Institute in the Public Square
Institute for American Values.

Leah Ward Sears
October 21, 2011

On our newly released Second Chances report:

Second Chances: A Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce

A Governance Studies Event, Brookings Institution, October 21, 2011

On October 21, The Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation hosted an event to release a new report from the Institute for American Values, "Second Chances: A Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce." Co-authors Professor William Doherty and Justice Leah Ward Sears presented the report's findings in a discussion moderated by Brookings Senior Fellow William Galston. Robert Rector from the Heritage Foundation and Theodora Ooms from the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center offered their analysis of the report and its proposals.

Listen here

Delaying Divorce to Save Marriages

William J. Doherty, Leah Ward Sears, Washington Post, October 20, 2011

"Conventional wisdom holds that about half of U.S. marriages end in divorce -- and that most Americans wish the divorce rate were lower. Still, many are skeptical about whether we can lower the divorce rate without trapping more people in bad marriages. This skepticism is fueled by two common assumptions: Divorce happens only after a long process of misery and conflict; and, once couples file for divorce, they don't entertain the idea of reconciling. We now know those assumptions are wrong."

Read the Article

Want to Preserve Marriages? Require a 1-Year Wait for Divorce, Reconciliation Education, Op-Ed Says

Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal, October 21, 2011

"Sears and Doherty say states could support marriages by enacting the Second Chances Act. It requires a minimum one-year wait for divorce and parental education before the divorce filing. Parents would be told of a nonadversarial approach to divorce, and would learn about the option of reconciliation. The waiting period could be waived in cases of abuse."

Read the Article

Some Couples Pull Back from the Edge of Divorce

Sharon Jayson, USA Today, September 28, 2011

"The DeRosias, like so many couples, were teetering on the brink of divorce. The angst of such a major decision is very real. But little is known about how people actually decide -- or why, like the DeRosias, they sometimes change their minds. New research offers the first inklings of understanding -- and shows that there's uncertainty even among couples who have already filed for divorce."

Read the Article

Divorce-Prevention Plan Advises Time, Talk

Cheryl Wetzstein, Washington Times, October 23, 2011

"'We are suggesting some modest reforms because we believe that there are preventable divorces, and that children are most harmed by those divorces that are preventable,' said William J. Doherty, family social science professor at the University of Minnesota."

Read the Article

Group Suggests 1-year Wait to get Divorced

Lois M. Collins, Desert News, October 23, 2011

"Well into the divorce process, [Doherty and Sears] found about 40 percent of American couples had one or both parties open to the possibility of reconciliation."

Read the Article

Should There Be A Mandatory "Cooling Off Period" Before Divorce?

Ellie DeLano, Woman's Day, October 24, 2011

"Divorce shouldn't be undertaken just because you've grown apart or grown bored with each other -- especially if you have children together. They deserve every chance they can get at an intact family. Waiting a bit and getting counseling could be good for everyone involved."

Read the Article

A Modest Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce

Maggie Gallagher,, October 27, 2011

"The assumption of the entire legal system is that by the time a person files for divorce the marriage is already dead. Amazingly, no one really had ever asked how many people filing for divorce might be interested in reconciliation."

Read the Article

The report has also been covered on local television broadcasts including KSL, Utah and KOLR 10, Missouri.

On our newly released One Parent or Five report:

Family Structure' Said to Trump 'Wanted' as Key to a Child's Future

Cheryl Wetzstein, Washington Times, October 6, 2011

"In the eyes of children, is it paramount that they were 'planned' and 'wanted'? Or does the family structure of their home matter more? These are two of the many thought-provoking questions about donor-conceived children and 'diverse' family forms in a report released Thursday from the Commission on Parenthood's Future at the Institute of American Values."

Read the Article

What is the Ideal Number of Parents? 2? 4? 5?

Michael Cook, BioEdge, October 15, 2011

"In 'One Parent or Five', [Elizabeth Marquandt] documents the growth of contemporary family structures with one, two, three, four, five or even more adults claiming to be parents. Her own attitude is far from optimistic: 'intention alone hardly guarantees good child outcomes'. The study build on an earlier one on the children of anonymous sperm donors."

Read the Article

Reinventing the Family: Good Intentions Are Not Enough

Collette Caprara, Heritage Foundation's blog The Foundry, October 24, 2011

"As marriage rates plummet and the percentage of intact families sharply declines, experiments that challenge the fundamental nature of the family are adding to the chaos that threatens civil society. A new report released this month by the Institute for American Values and the Commission on Parenthood's Future explores the impact on children of such experimental arrangements throughout the world. The findings are cause for concern."

Read the Article

One Parent or Five?

Carolyn Moynihan,, October 7, 2011

"Do children do fine with one parent, or 58 three, or five? Do young people mourn the absence of their biological mothers and fathers in their lives? Can three-person units be as stable as admittedly already-fragile two-person units? Is there something special about trying to keep the man and woman who make the baby together, for the sake of the baby and each other, in what we call marriage?"

Read the Article

In other marriage and family news:

'Single Ladies' Not Giving up on Marriage

By Jennifer A. Marshall, Bellingham Herald, October 28, 2011

"The quest for independence is no doubt a product of the prevailing feminist winds that carried along today's 30-somethings as we grew up amid 'The Girl Project.' That's the moniker Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has given the 'you-go-girl' era ushered in by the 1972 signing of Title IX, the federal law mandating gender equity in education. 'The Girl Project' got eight New Jersey girls into Little League in 1974, and Shannon Faulkner into the Citadel in 1995."

Read the Article

Death of the Girl Next Door: Social Pathologies Once Thought to be the Province of Inner Cities are Afflicting Small-Town, Working-Class America

Edmund L. Andrews, National Journal, October 26, 2011

"Family life has always been fragile and chaotic for high school dropouts and people at the bottom of the income ladder, especially among African-Americans. The surprise, according to researchers W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquardt, was that the same pattern was showing up among working-class people of all races."

Subscription only, excerpt posted here

After the Wedding, What Is Marriage For?

Elizabeth Marquardt, Huffington Post, October 24, 2011

"Today in the U.S. more than forty percent of children are born to unmarried parents. Research is revealing that the road is much rougher for those kids. While marriages do break up, cohabiting relationships break up far more often, leaving kids to be raised in the confusion that comes with mom and dad each dating, living with, or marrying others, and possibly breaking up again."

Read the Article

Anonymous No More: Child of Sperm Donor Speaks Out

Christopher White, National Catholic Register, October 11, 2011

"Alana S. was just 8 years old when her parents told her they would be getting a divorce. Her father made an effort to gain custody of Alana's older sister, but not Alana. This would become Alana's first of many painful lessons in what it is like to be a child of a sperm donor."

Read the Article


A How-Not-To on Debt

Alina Tugend, National Journal, October 13, 2011

"The first rule for living life in the black is: Don't spend more than you earn. Easier said than done. Paying down debt, unfortunately, is a lot like losing weight. It isn't fun, and it means making some daunting choices. 'Cutting back is inconsistent with popular American culture,' said Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, director of the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the nonprofit Institute for American Values. The initial step is often the toughest: taking a hard look at the numbers and figuring out where the money goes."

Read the Article

Not Lazier, but Softer

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, New York Times, October 11, 2011

"America's work ethic has not changed for the worse. We still work longer hours, with less time off for vacations, sick days or family leave than workers in other advanced nations. What has changed is the kind of work we do. We aren't getting lazier but we are getting softer. More of us spend our workdays sitting behind desks or counters, exercising our minds and our fine motor skills but scarcely moving a large muscle group."

Read the Article

Study Exposes Predatory Gambling

North Carolina Family Policy Council, October 13, 2011

"The report 'The Smartest Guys Not in the Room' [by Institute partner Stop Predatory Gambling] cites gambling as 'the only product or service where most of the people who own it and promote it, don't use it and don't want to live near it.'"

Read the Article

Taking the Gamble

Dr. Jeff Mirus,, October 5, 2011

"Both State-sponsored and State-licensed gambling have many detrimental side effects. Some argue that State involvement actually costs more than it raises for good causes. Here are a few points from the Get Government Out of Gambling initiative, sponsored by the Institute for American Values: 1) Low income households (incomes under $10,000) bet three times as much as high income households (incomes over $100,000) -- hence the common, and quite correct, argument that State-sponsored gambling is, in effect, simply a tax on the poor. 2) Americans spend more on slot machines than on movies, baseball and theme parks combined."

Read the Article


Upcoming conversations at our Center for Public Conversation:

November 10, 2011, " Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves" New York, NY

A Conversation with Sheldon Garon, Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University, on his book "Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves." Hosted by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Director of the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values. Find out what we can learn from East Asian and European countries that have fostered enduring cultures of thrift over the past two centuries.

View the Details

December 1, 2011, "Is Government-Sponsored Gambling a Bad Bet for America?" New York, NY

A Conversation with Barbara Whitehead, Director of the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values; Les Bernal, Executive Director of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation; and Paul Davies, Maggie Walker Fellow in Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values; hosted by David Blankenhorn, President of the Institute for American Values.

In a mad rush for revenue, state after state is legalizing casinos and expanding lotteries. With the opening of the Aqueduct racino, New York is joining the stampede. Please join our distinguished panel in a conversation about role of government in promoting gambling as a sure-fire jobs-and-economic development strategy.

December 8, 2011, " When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful & How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable" New York, NY

A Conversation with coauthors of the State of Our Unions 2011, When Baby Makes Three, W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia and Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.


Subscribe / Archives / Follow: FacebookTwitter