Cohabitation: What Living in Sin Can Do to Your Children

Couples with children who cohabit instead of getting married may be doing their children harm, a new study suggests.

According to a new study, “Children in cohabiting households are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems-- drug use, depression and dropping out of high school-- compared to children in intact, married families.”

The study, performed by the Institute for American Values and the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, found divorce rate for couples with children has declined since peaking in the early 1980s.

On the other hand, researchers found that fewer couples with children are getting married and the rate of cohabitation has increased 14-fold since 1970. This means roughly 24 percent of children are born to cohabitating couples; meanwhile, another 20 percent at some point grew-up in a cohabitating household.

Some cohabitating couples with children argue the decision to live together before marriage is “convenient,” but couples may need to consider the possible negative effects on their children’s lives.

Researchers of the study, “Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” are concerned that family instability is more detrimental to children than parents suspect.

Advocates of the “modern family structure” argue at least two adults are in the household, but research shows children from married couples are ahead of their counterparts.

“Children in cohabiting households tend to lag children in intact married families on key social indicators and are not much better off than children in single-parent families,” said National Review editor Rich Lowry.

Children living in a cohabitated household are also more susceptible to abuse.

Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage said that children living with their mother and a live-in boyfriend are 33 times more likely to be abused than those living with their biological married parents, Life Site News reported.

Researchers found that cohabitating couples with children are twice as likely to break up than married parents with children. The couples are also more likely to suffer from depression and less likely to combine their income to support the household, the study said.

Overall, cohabitating couples are “more conflict, more violence, and lower levels of satisfaction and commitment,” the study said.