I was listening to my other NPR station on the drive into the office today (yes, I have two to choose from) when I caught the last few minutes of a piece on fatherhood and the impact it has on the larger society. If WGBH happens to post it, I'll update with a direct link.
The statement that drew me in was "a deadbeat dad has a measurable and significant cost to taxpayers in the form of incarceration, lowered education, and unemployment" What is really significant is that this effect doesn't end with just one man - it is perpetuated into the next generation in his children. Social programs have been trying to make fatherhood a more-attractive lifestyle choice and one place where it is being focused is in prisons.
A social-worker commented on how she viewed a recently-released prison inmate. She saw him in his car driving along and he had his children in the back. This was success. Not just re-integrating a man back into society, but having him assume his responsibilities as a father.
One of the interviewees simply put it as "growing up" and I do agree. Being able to "put aside childish things" and placing the needs of others (especially when it's your own child or your niece or nephew or your wife) before your own is a stage of maturity. Staying in school, toughing-it-out in some cases, recognizing that these efforts do eventually lead to better opportunities and an easier life later on is a gamble worth taking.
So how can we keep families together? We as a society must spend an embarrassing amount of money, time, and personal resources when we don't get along. What can we do to stay together and live harmoniously?