Out of wedlock births a national catastrophe?

Filed under: Media

According to recent statistics, out of wedlock babies now make up 40% of the total number of births in the United States. According to a recent Slate article by Emily Yoffe, out-of-wedlock births are a national catastrophe for the country. As one of the unwed statistics cited in her article, I read on with eager interest. I am well aware that single Motherhood has its detriments. But the word catastrophic seems a tad strong.

First, Yoffe highlights a seemingly increased ambivalence about the cultural need for marriage as a basis for having children. The words "it's just a certificate", in reference to a marriage document, seem to be uttered more often by couples intent on partnering for life with a spit and their own set of promises. And since many women are no longer reliant on men for the security of salary, motivation to marry for stability has decreased over the years. It's likely a blend of hundreds of reasons, but the fact is: more women are having babies outside of wedlock. And Emily Yoffee says that is disastrous for the country.

She sites stats I've seen before, statements that are painful to read as a single Mom: kids from one-parent families are the primary cause for the increasing stratification of American life, they are more likely to be poor, have psychological and behavioral problems, drop out of high school.

I understand and believe that a loving, two-parent, and yes, married family unit is optimal for a child. But when that isn't possible -- and when a child grows up in a loving single parent home, with surrounding love from the families of both parents, I fail to see it as a recipe for disaster. In her article, Yoffe references Barack Obama as an exception to the "messed up child from a single parent family" rule: he is successful, intelligent, insightful. And there are millions of other examples of children from broken homes that have grown up to be wildly successful adults. Oprah Winfrey comes to mind and, less famously, dozens of my personal friends.

I think that more central to a child's development of his adult personality is the love, education, and value system that's instilled in him by the parents and relatives who love him fiercely -- whether they live in the home with him or not. I believe there are enough opportunities for educated, single parents to provide a robust, happy life for their child or children. And then again, I'm a little biased. Like any parent, married or single, I just want to do what's best for my child. I'm just not convinced that my marital status is the best indication for how he's going to turn out.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.