However, there does still seem to be some hesitation amongst the political class in accepting this shift. I'm not sure that everyone in the Western political class is convinced that you can transition to a "post-fatherhood" family and still have a high-functioning system.
There's enough doubt for the time being for voices defending the traditional family to be aired in the mainstream media. The latest such voice that I noticed is Kay Hymnowitz. She has a column in the New York Times under the heading "How single motherhood hurts kids".
She begins by noting that many voices in America on both the left and the right have accepted that single motherhood is associated with poverty. She points out, correctly, that there is a different response to this: the right wants to encourage stable marriage to alleviate the poverty, the left wants the welfare state to step in to raise living standards for single mothers.
Kay Hymnowitz has looked at some of the data relating to low-income, unmarried women in the U.S. and is concerned by what she discovered. For instance, only one third of these women will still be living with the partner they had a child with when the child is five. Furthermore, these women often have children with a variety of men: 70% of children born to lower-income women will have a half-sibling by the time they're five.
There is statistical evidence that this "domestic churn" isn't good for children:
this kind of domestic churn is really bad news for kids. The more “transitions” experienced by a child — the arrival of a stepparent, a parental boyfriend or girlfriend, or a step- or half sibling — the more children are likely to have either emotional or academic problems, or both. (My own research indicates that boys, especially, suffer from these transitions.)
Part of the problem is that a nonresident father tends to fade out of his children’s lives if there’s a new man in his ex’s house or if he has children with a new partner. For logistical, emotional and financial reasons, his loyalty to his previous children slackens once he has a child with a new girlfriend or wife. Nor is it likely, from the overlooked child’s point of view, that a mother’s new boyfriend or husband can fill the gap. There’s substantial research showing that stepfathers are sometimes worse than none at all.
Kay Hymnowitz points out that a problem with the leftist solution, namely that of providing a lot of state welfare to single mothers, is that it can then make single motherhood a more attractive and viable option for women:
Increasing government largess could actually incentivize, or at least enable, parental choices that everyone admits are damaging to kids.
So what is the liberal state going to do? At the level of ideas, the liberal political class seems to be turning decisively against the traditional family. But the countervailing pressures are:
- popular resistance as in France
- pressure on the welfare state in some European countries
- a deteriorating situation amongst the lowest socio-economic groups clearly related to family decline