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Family talk: Oklahomas can help change state's low ranking as a place to raise a family

Jim Priest
Jim Priest

In last week’s Family Talk column we talked about Oklahoma being ranked the 44th (or sixth worst) state in which to raise a family, according to Wallethub.com.

If we are ever going to turn this ship around it will take all of us pulling on the oars. Gov. Kevin Stitt says he wants us to be a “Top 10” state. We should begin that quest by being a Top 10 state for families.

Here’s a way nearly all of us could get Oklahoma headed toward Top 10 state status. Do three things in life and encourage those in your circle of influence to do them, too:

1. Graduate from high school.

2. Get a full-time job (after high school, vo-tech or college).

3. Marry before having children, and wait to have kids until after age 21.

It sounds so “ordinary,” doesn’t it? But researchers Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institute found people who follow these three rules have only a 2 percent chance of living in poverty. These rules are called “the success sequence.” If you do them, you can avoid poverty, which not only negatively affects your life and your family, but also negatively impacts our state’s economy.

Some have criticized the success sequence as too moralistic. Or too simplistic. Or that it fails to take into consideration that the “success sequence” works better for whites than blacks. But despite any shortcomings or criticism, it’s a place to start and an easy one.

It’s also a path to success regardless of generation, according to research:

• A stunning 97 percent of millennials who follow the success sequence are NOT poor when they reach their prime young adult years (ages 28-34).

• 31 percent of millennial high school graduates (who didn’t follow the work and marriage steps by their mid-20s) are in poverty during their prime adult years.

So, here’s the first step to reversing our status as the sixth worst state to raise a family. Follow the success sequence and encourage others to do so.

Next week: More practical things we can do to be a Top 10 family state.

Jim Priest can be reached at okcpriest@yahoo.com.

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