"No cavities, Mom", I wanted to shout as I rose from the dentist chair after my six-month checkup. In raising me, my parents stressed the old admonitions: brush your teeth, eat your vegetables, look both ways before crossing the street, share with others, and so on. Only now do I realize how much I owe them for my current health and happiness.
I realized how fortunate I was when I read a new statistic: More than half of babies born to women younger than thirty now are born to unmarried parents. In many cases, to two young people who don't even plan to be married, at least to each other. Are these parents as dedicated to raising their children as mine were, or are the children simply an afterthought?
Some of the unmarried young parents express disillusionment with their own parents' marriages, but it appears marriage, perfect or not, gives a child advantages. Children born outside marriage are more likely to be in poverty, fail in school, and suffer emotional and behavioral problems.
Children are a nation's most precious resource. No country can succeed if it wastes the lives of its children.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home and Quiet Deception (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research).