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As a society we appear to be overwhelmed by a number of apparently irremediably social problems, whether it be homelessness, addictions, children at risk, provision of affordable health care. Many of these escalating problems share a common contributing factor, the fragility of family life today. Family breakdown seems to be a common element, though not the only one, in any analysis of the root causes of serious social problems.

There has been a dramatic rise in marital breakdown here in Ireland - up 500% since 1986 - and yet there is an alarming refusal to acknowledge the problem. Since 1990 we've also seen a huge rise in single parent families and cohabiting couples and this has meant a huge increase in the number of children being raised outside marriage.

Behind these figures is an awful lot of human pain and social unrest. What it highlights is that the changing Irish family means in many cases an ever growing number of children growing up with either a semi-involved or uninvolved father, and a growing number of mothers having to raise their children on their own or with the help of relatives and friends to compensate for the absent father.

Traditionally, and in every known society, permanent marriage has met this problem. Marriage connects children to their fathers and mothers and society more reliably than anything else we know. As marriage weakens in Ireland, so does the connection between father and child, mother and child, and society and child.


of course, it's different in Ireland
and you must write from that perspective - it is your world

but the absent father has always been a problem - war and economics being the chief causes
yes, two parents - loving parents - are the ideal
(two of either gender combination)

but the use of two is not the only model - nature is strange that way
down the road the osprey are nesting - it is very definitely a two parent arrangement - but also down the road is a fox den and she parents alone - there is also a dear colony with a buck, several does and fauns - all sorts of parenting arrangements

maybe for the good of the young different arrangements are natural? - maybe the involvement of adults is what is needed

i'm not sure "traditional marriage" has always met these needs.
Maybe there has always been pain and social problems. Maybe society has not wanted to face them having a stubborn belief that man/woman permanent marriage would be the solution.

Perhaps society recognizing and accepting that there are other patterns, other ways to provide stability for children will eventually help both adult and children.
I came here to basically say the same thing. :)
But why look for some NEW system when we have already had a very good, if not perfect, system?

My replies seem to find themselves in all kinds of places. Sorry.

Edited at 2016-04-17 21:17 (UTC)
As someone fairly familiar with anthropology, I have to warn you against making statements like "in every known society." To quote from Wikipedia, the Mosuo are an example:

One of the best known, and least understood, aspects of Mosuo culture is their practice of what has been termed "walking marriage" (zou hun in Chinese).[13] There is no traditional marriage in Mosuo culture. Therefore, there are no husbands or wives. Rather than a concept similar to the Western conception of marriage, Mosuo culture has "walking marriages" or "visiting relations,"[14] in which partners do not live in the same household. Children of such relationships are raised by their mothers and the mothers' families. Shih (2010) is the most sophisticated anthropological account of Mosuo practices of sexual union.

All on-going sexual relationships in Mosuo culture are called "walking marriages." These bonds are "based on mutual affection."[12] When a Mosuo woman or man expresses interest in a potential partner, it is the woman who may give the man permission to visit her. These visits are usually kept secret, with the man visiting the woman's house after dark, spending the night, and returning to his own home in the morning.[13] Mosuo women and men can engage in sexual relations with as many partners as they wish.[15]

Edited at 2016-04-17 13:57 (UTC)
Even in Wikipedia, they admit that marriage exists
Never heard of Mosuo culture, but if the system works in providing a proper society in which children can grow up without harm, fair dues. I doubt this however.
I agree. This isn't just an Ireland problem, it's world wide problem.

I was a single parent, and it forced me to be stronger than I really was/am.

Edited at 2016-04-17 14:12 (UTC)
As a single parent, having escaped an abusive marriage, I'd have to say that one stable, loving parent is better than two parents where one is abusive.
I agree. But should not fathers be made to act responsibly?
If they're good people, I believe they'll act responsibly. If they're not, sometimes they're dangerous.
I'll keep saying it though- traditional marriage is not the only successful way ('traditional' marriage is as successful or unsuccessful as any other form of relationship) and I speak as one who is traditionally married..........
Is not the "traditional" concept of marriage the "natural" plan for marriage?
: ) "marriage" - the one man one woman type - isn't "natural" - as nature provides many models (see my earlier comments)

concubinage seems to have been the common form - see Abraham/Sarah/Hagar and Jacob/Leah/Rachel

marriage as we know it is a late comer to the scene
women were commodities used for breeding and often died in child birth -a man needed several to continue his line

Marriage was a necessary societal construct
marriage did not become a sacrament until 1184 Council of Verona

not until the 20th century did women begin to have full civil wights and personhood
society has an interest in protecting the young
it is "natural" that different forms of what is called "marriage" - or more correctly the procreation of future citizens - should start to emerge

no one is asking the church to change its sacramental norms
but that will evolve too - as it has in the past

the 21st century is the beginning of a new way to organize life - by the end of the century the change will be as drastic as 1800 to 1899
No, I don't think so.

There's nothing 'natural' about it.

It's simply just a form of social construct although admittedly a fairly useful one.

We lived together for 13 years before getting 'officially' married and I can't say the last 10 years have felt any different to the previous thirteen because I now have a ring on the third finger of my left hand.