A recent study from Duke University analyzed over 5,200 U.S. children who were born out of wedlock and recommended that unmarried parents marry before a child turns three so they’ll create the strongest possible bond. Study author Christina Gibson-Davis writes: “If you think that stable marriage is beneficial for kids, very few kids born out of wedlock are experiencing that.” Gibson also found that marriages are more likely to succeed if mothers marry biological fathers rather than a stepfather.
Many experts conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for instability. As the rate of couples who live together without being married rises radically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox posits that they’re also at risk for potential psychological and academic problems, poverty, instability, and child abuse. He writes, “Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children.”
Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to breakup and four times as likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65 percent of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents’ breakup by age 12, compared to 24 percent born to married families.