Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program


Retrived November 10, 2003 from
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Who are “Fragile Families?” 61 2004
Who Are “Fragile Families?”
Fragile families is a term used to describe most typically unmarried parents and their
children. These families are at greater risk of living in poverty and of family dissolution
than are married families. Most often in these families the parents are living together or
have close relationships with the father living in a separate household.
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study collected data about parents, their
relationship to each other and the well-being of the ir children. In the longitudinal study
about 5000 children and their parents who were most typically unmarried and in their
twenties reported about the quality of their relationship, their expectations to marry and
reasons for not marrying. It has provided much insight into the reality of these families
lives. The study tells us that:
· Unwed parents are strongly connected to each other and to their children at the
time of the child’s birth.
· Most of the unwed parents are poorly equipped to support themselves and their
children. They lack education, work experience and family support to obtain and
retain work.
· Unmarried parents are younger and much more likely to already have children
with more than one partner than married parents.
· Employment, education and relationship quality affect the stability of these
families and their plans to marry.
o Men viewed employment as an essential element for a successful
o The higher a woman’s educational level the likelihood she is to maintain a
stable relationship.
o Pro-marriage attitudes increase the chance of marriage while the women’s
distrust of men has a negative effect.
o The quality of the couples’ relationship has a greater effect on decision to
marriage than employment.
o Women viewed cohabitation as a safe relationship that provided them
control over their lives and their children’s lives.
These couples had high hopes and expectations for marriage yet they created barriers to
marrying. The most significant was that they considered marriage as a long-term goal
that was achievable when other short-term goals had been accomplished. The two major
short-term goals were financial stability and relationship quality. Financial stability often
included being able to afford a home and being debt free. Marriage was viewed as the
crowning achievement after other goals had been accomplished.
Parke, M. (2004). Who are “fragile families’ and what do we know about them? Washington D.C.: Center
for Law and Social Policy.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Domestic Violence’s Effect on Marriage 62 2004
Domestic Violence’s Effect on Marriage
The focus on marriage by welfare reauthorization has unique demands within the
population that it is targeting. For marriage to benefit both the adults and children
involved, research indicates that the relationship needs to be nonconflictual. That is it
needs to not just be two parents but that these individuals provide a stable low-conflict
family unit.
Abuse whether it is physical, sexual, psychological, or sabotage is higher in low-income
populations, especially for younger women (Lawrence, 2002).

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Veronica S. Haggerty


"A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best things that can happen to you. However, it can also be one of the biggest drains on you if the relationship is not working. Relationships are like bank accounts. The more you put in, the more you get back. Falling in love is the easy part, but long term relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change through life as a team. Learn about ways to keep a healthy relationship strong, or begin to today to work on repairing trust and renewing love for a relationship on the rocks".

Location: New Hope, PA
Credentials: MA, MFT, RN
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