{ Championing Fatherhood }

[Free Resources] Share the Success Sequence With Families You Serve

Posted by Melissa Byers

Most Recent Fatherhood Posts

Aug 16, 2022


A few weeks ago, I posted a blog that highlighted the most recent findings on how the success sequence is effective for young adults no matter their demographic or upbringing. While this is great news, what good is data if you don’t have an easy way to share this information and inspiration with the fathers and families you serve?

In this post, I will review the three main concepts behind the success sequence and share videos you can use to share this message with those around you. Please remember that it’s never too late for fathers and families to take steps toward a brighter future and more stable family life, even if dads or couples already have kids. If they’ve gotten off course in the success sequence, remind them that it’s never too late to get back on track.

What is the Success Sequence?

STEP 1: Graduate high school.
Education is the first step in the Success Sequence. A lot of people say, “If you want to achieve the American Dream, you have to go to college,” but that’s just not true. At least finish high school—or go to a technical school and become an apprentice. About 70% of young adults who graduate from high school will not be poor in their 30s.  

STEP 2: Get a full-time job.
Getting a full-time job is a big step forward, too. Work provides direction, discipline, and a community—not to mention money—all key ingredients for a good life. 90% of young adults who complete the first two steps will not be poor in their 30s. Some people may choose not to marry or have kids (the final step in the sequence), but those who complete the first two steps will be on their way to a financially secure life.

Step 3: Get married—before having children.
Most young adults want a family, so the last step is the most important of all: Get married—before having kids. For young adults who follow the sequence and get married before having kids, nearly all (97%) are not poor in their 30s. Putting marriage first before becoming a mom or a dad is a key step in escaping the trap of poverty. Getting married before having children doubles your chances of realizing the American Dream (defined here as reaching the middle class or higher).

Of course, being able to pay the bills, which is important, is not the only way to succeed. If you have kids after tying the knot, your family is more likely to stay together. Compared to the children of married parents, children born to couples who just live together are twice as likely to end up in a broken home before they turn 12. Children born to unmarried parents are also more likely to be poor, experience abuse, and get in trouble with the law.

Even though a lot of parents today are just living together, raising children in marriage is still the best path to a strong and happy family.

[Free Videos to Share] “Straight Talk About the Success Sequence”
Straight Talk About the Success Sequence” is a project of the Institute For Family Studies to directly address young adults with the message of the Success Sequence, showing that no matter the challenges you face, there is a path to build a brighter future. 

These three six-minute videos highlight stories of real young adults who are seeking to follow the Success Sequence or to get back on track. The videos include commentary from Brad Wilcox, an IFS senior fellow and University of Virginia sociology professor; Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Catherine Pakaluk, an economics professor at the Catholic University of America.

For Men
Scott, who became a father as a teenager, struggles to get back on track for his sons, and Keenan, a high school student, explains his plan to follow the Success Sequence and get married before starting a family.


For Women
Stephanie, a young single mom who has struggled with drug addiction and other difficult challenges, makes changes to get back on track for herself and her son.


Kaylie and Carlos, a young engaged couple, work to change their lives for the sake of their newborn baby.


To learn more, visit https://ifstudies.org/success-sequence.


Cutting Edge Tips for Running an Exceptional Fatherhood Program (On Demand)

Topics: research, Featured, general fatherhood resources, the success sequence, benefits of marriage, high school education, work full time, overcoming poverty, marrying before having children

Subscribe to Championing Fatherhood


Get the Father Engagement Resources You Need

Visit our Store