Marriage is mentioned just once, in passing, in a national parenting guide which is part of an £18million project by the Scottish Government.
The National Parenting Strategy, a 70-page document, also claims that successful childrearing doesn’t need two parents.
The guide says there was “no evidence to suggest that children of lone parents automatically do any worse in life than those with two.”
But academic studies beg to differ. A survey published by the Scottish Centre for Social Research found 44 per cent of children aged two to five with single parents had ‘conduct problems’ compared with only 23 per cent of youngsters raised by a ‘stable couple’.
There is one mention of marriage in the strategy, when it talks about the increase in couples choosing to live together rather than marry.
Critics have panned the document, which aims to “make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up”.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said the guide suggests that having a second parent is an “optional extra”.
He said this is “deeply offensive to the majority of Scottish families, socially irresponsible and is not supported by the evidence.”
John Deighan, the Roman Catholic Church’s parliamentary officer in Scotland, said marriage must be at the “heart of parenting”.
The document claims that a “set family structure” is not what matters most, rather it’s “responsible, committed and stable parenting by people who genuinely care about the child.”
The Government’s aim for the guide is to make a “positive difference to children and young people through parenting”.
Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell launched the strategy at the Parenting across Scotland conference in Edinburgh.
A Scottish Government spokesman claimed its support for marriage was “well-documented”.
But the SNP has formally included a Bill to rewrite the definition of marriage in its new legislative programme.