The study, conducted by the Marriage Foundation, surveyed 3,822 children. The results contradict other studies, which have shown that two parents simply cohabiting, whether married or not, is the best.
But this study goes further to show that the stability provided by marriage—a public declaration of commitment to one another—boosts the self-esteem of children in those families.
“Conventional wisdom has it that child outcomes depend on parents staying together rather than marital status. This new finding shows that assumption to be false. In terms of self-esteem, teenagers living with parents who are together but not married are no better off than children living with lone parents,” said Harry Benson, research director at the foundation.
He continued, “A number of studies have shown that self-esteem is closely related to how secure people feel in their relationships” (quoted by Vanessa Allen, “Children of Married Parents Have Highest Self-Esteem, Says New Research,” Daily Mail, May 29, 2016).
These results should come as no surprise for anybody who understands the biblical basis for marriage. Marriage is a physical institution that in various respects is meant to model the spiritual relationship Jesus Christ desires to have with His Bride, the Church—oneness, unity, perfect harmony—the same committed love God the Father and Jesus Christ now share.
Likewise, unshakeable unity between man and wife creates an atmosphere of trust, stability and love in a family. Free from deep-seated, subconscious anxiety, a child brought up in such a home stands a far better chance of succeeding later in life.
Our free Bible study guide Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension goes into more depth on the deep meaning, responsibility and holiness of the marriage relationship.