Remember those SAT analogy questions that gave you the deer in the headlights look? Most of them seemed about like this to me: regurgitation is to anathema as rapport is to... a. quotidian, b. palaver, c. flagellation, d. trilocular. I'm pretty sure I would have nailed that one.
Well, here's a much more obvious one for you to consider: Marriage is to Parenting as Air is to Breathing. In other words, it's pretty darn helpful.
Before I dig myself into a hole, let me acknowledge that there are great parents who never married, are divorced, or are widowed. It can be done, but most any single parent, regardless of the back story, would concede that parenting alone is harder than with two loving parents.
There's more research to back up this claim, and it shouldn't surprise us. On a number of economic indicators, significant numbers of children from intact families do better than children from single-parent homes. Plenty of kids from single parent homes will succeed and thrive, but more won't as compared to kids with two parents. Here's a quote from a report published by the American Enterprise Institute:
Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women. Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual “intact-family premium” that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families. (by R. Lerman and W. Wilcox)
I hope such information will cause young people today to consider the benefits of marriage. I hope they'll understand, before childbearing, that raising children requires the best efforts of both a mother and a father. The most stable platform on which to build a young life has four legs under it, not two. Marriage takes work by both parties, but the benefits to them, and to children, are worth it. A healthy marriage = Enriched children. Now there's a formula worthy of an SAT exam!