Skip Navigation

First Things First Column

First Things First Column The Family Column is a series of articles providing helpful information on families and marriages. It is published every Sunday in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Subscribe to our  Family Column RSS Feed.

Click here to contact Julie Baumgardner


On any given day, many parents are in a perpetual state of exhaustion trying to keep up with their children. Imagine trying to keep up with 12! That is exactly what Toby and Brenda Willis do on a daily basis.
Does marriage matter? That question has been bantered around for decades. Recent research (For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America) released by Dr. Brad Wilcox, senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and Robert Lerman, professor of economics at American University examined how family structure impacts the economic fortunes of Americans and their families. Their conclusion: the institution of marriage is key to productive adulthood, a cornerstone of a stable family and the basic unit of a healthy community.
Imagine being 13 years old and driving through Florida with your mom and step-father. Your step-father pulls into a bus station in Pensacola and tells you to get out of the car. You get out of the car and you see your mom crying as she is digging through the truck. Your step-father tells you to get your clothes. You get them out of the trunk. Your mom and step-father get back in the car and drive off leaving you alone with nothing.
As Randal Olson approaches 30 he’s been thinking more about marriage so when one of his friends posted a study on Facebook that said expensive wedding rings lead to more divorce, it caught his eye.
By now many have heard about the Sayreville, New Jersey high school football team whose entire season was suspended after the school superintendent learned of hazing incidents in the team locker room. Seven teens were arrested and charged with participating in hazing rituals that allegedly included raping freshman players.