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Elder Dallin H. Oaks speaks about the effects of family structure and divorce on children

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 3:35 p.m. MDT

Divorce and family structure can have long-lasting effects on children. (Shutterstock.com) Divorce and family structure can have long-lasting effects on children. (Shutterstock.com)

If children were raised in a stable, two-parent home at the same level as in 1960, "it would mean 1.2 million fewer children suspended from school, 538,000 fewer acts of delinquency and 71,400 fewer suicide attempts," according to a study cited in a Deseret News article, Reforming divorce: Changing laws to preserve families" by Sara Israelsen-Harley.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, addressed the effect divorce and family structure on children in Saturday's session of the 182nd Semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

"Of utmost importance to the well-being of children is whether their parents were married, the nature and duration of the marriage and, more broadly, the culture and expectations of marriage and childcare where they live," Elder Oaks said.

Assertions that outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents differ little from those of children raised in intact biological families were found to be inaccurate, according to a Desert News article, "Studies challenge widely held assumptions about same-sex parenting" by Lois M. Collins.

The article referenced research from the University of Texas at Austin, which reported "lower income levels, poorer mental and physical health and more troubled current romantic relationships" for children raised in same-sex parent households.

Quoting a scholar, Elder Oaks expressed a similar view.

"The family structure that produces the best outcomes for children on average are two biological parents who remain married," Elder Oaks said.

Divorce courts often require divorce education classes, one of which focuses on the the effects of divorce on children, according to Sara Israelsen-Harley's article.

"Our church leaders have taught that looking upon marriage as a mere contract that may be entered in to at pleasure and severed at the first difficulty is an evil meriting severe condemnation — especially where children are made to suffer," Elder Oaks said.

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