Bedtime, School Time and Families

 Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in the Courier-Post on October 7, 2015.


It’s been said that bedtime is the perfect time for kids to ask questions, request food, require additional bathroom breaks and need a nightlight.

All parents can identify with that! Sometimes the simple act of tucking a little one into bed seems like the implementation of a military campaign.

Another thing all parents share is the desire for a quality education for their children. Preparing our boys and girls for the challenges of the workplace, as well as training their minds to think well and giving them a solid grounding in the virtues that build good citizens, are among the highest priorities for every mom and dad.

These are things most of us take for granted. But what too often is ignored is that children learn best in a home with a mother and a father.

The Marriage and Religion Research Institute has done research showing that the children “who have the best chance of success in schools are also those who come from intact families and attend church weekly or more.”

Church attendance counts for a lot and in many ways. In additional to biblical instruction, moral guidance and the fellowship of good friends, church attendance seems to inspire a higher level of self-discipline, curiosity and intellectual interest. For example, teens who attend church at least once a week have the highest grade point average and the highest combined average GPA in English and math, and received the highest percentage of A’s at school.

On the other hand, teenagers who report never going to church have the lowest GPA, the lowest combined average GPA in English and math and the lowest percentage of receiving mostly A’s at school.

Similarly, having a mom and a dad in the home has an equally profound impact on school performance. As MARRI research shows, “Teenagers from always-intact married families had the highest GPA average (3.0), the highest combined average GPA in English and math (2.9), and the highest likelihood of receiving A’s (28%).”

And teens “from a intact family or adoptive family are three times less likely than any other family structure to have repeated a grade,” while teens “from always-single parent families had the lowest GPA (2.5) and were least likely to have received mostly A’s at school.”

This is not to disparage the brave and faithful single parents who do their best to encourage their children to excel in school. Rather, these data simply make the point that the intact, married family that worships together weekly demonstrably has better educational outcomes than other types of families.

Being a mom or a dad is hard work — hard and important. The shaping of a young life is, perhaps, life’s noblest calling. In that molding and building process, the education a child receives will often set the tone for his or her professional achievement, income-earning ability and capacity to contribute to his or her community and country.

Marriage matters, for adults and children, for work and school, for neighborhood and culture. So do worship and education. If we’re serious about fostering a society in which civility, prosperity, liberty and personal character combine to make our country the place it can and should be, all of these factors need to be combined so as to provide future generations with the nation and culture they deserve.

Bedtime is challenging for parents and little ones alike. But it can also be a time of joy, sweetness, hugs and prayers. Educating a child can be hard, too, but keeping the home intact and stable and loving makes so much difference, for parents and kids alike. And when worship is added to the mix, the results are even better. The numbers prove it. So do kids and parents who know the satisfaction of a good report card, a well-shaped mind and character ready for life.