Written evidence from Rob Walker [HAB0037]
I am a youth leader and have been for 30 years. The majority of the broken homes I see are from cohabiting families who casually raise children. When trouble comes, there is no glue in their marriage and often one of the partners simply walks away. This leaves the children to a single parent and whilst they do their best, the child grows up with problems of one sort or another, like missing discipline or skills (Sports, practical skills, dealing with conflict, exercise, diet). Hence marriage or civil partnerships and the public and government backing is key to stability in society and raising children.
I spend many hours per week trying to teach ‘life skills’ to these teenagers from a separated home, simply teaching these guys how to share and play with others as many tend to become loners and withdraw, or I have to teach them how to change oil on a car or similar practical skill as dad was missing in most cases, or simply encouraging them to play sports and exercise for a cardio workout. The number of kids from a married family that need ‘help’ is much less, maybe ¼ or less. I often see healthier kids from married homes, not just well adjusted, but basic diet and health is better as the children participate in more active lifestyle, and less depression.
Marriage deservingly has a protected state vs cohabiting as children are protected more, and hence should be promoted.
Giving the same legal status to cohabiting parents will simply cost more in state aid to raise the children on welfare, hence already costing us billions each year, and will simply escalate the problem. We already have the civil partnership and marriage; thus we do not need to provide legal protection for cohabiting.
In summary, cohabiting couples have chosen not to legally tie their union, there is no commitment to each other unto death, and the impact on society and children is huge. We simply should not be extending legal rights to them if they cannot extend commitment to each other. Commitment in marriage is central to a strong UK, society fabric, strong and well-balanced children, and the costs of the welfare system.