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Marriage Decline and Single Parent Families

The shortcomings of single parent families are indisputable. A number of social problems, including children criminal behavior, drug abuse and poor school performance are strongly associated with poverty of single mothers. Regrettably, the number of families headed by a single parent is on a rise and marriage is in decline. According to American government statistics (U.S. Census Bureau) an overwhelming 41 % of children in 2010 were born outside of marriage. Researchers are looking at the very core of this phenomenon. The discoveries shatter quite a few popular believes about non-marital pregnancies.

Myths About Non-Marital Births

According to statistics teenage pregnancies only accounted for 7.7% of non-marital births in 2008. Young adults were responsible for three quarters of births outside marriages and a whooping 37.1% of these births occurred to unmarried women between ages of 20 and 24.Many of single parent families are a result of having children without ever tying a knot. But the reasons for out-of-wedlock births are not what most people would anticipate. The popular believe that non-marital births are a result of accidental pregnancies among teenage girls, who lack knowledge about or access to birth control is far from reality. Research revealed that non-marital births rarely involve girls under 18, are almost never caused by a lack of access to birth control, and typically are not the result of purely accidental pregnancies.

  • single parent familiesResearch revealed that virtually none of non-marital births were caused by a lack of knowledge about and access to birth control.
  • Most unmarried women who became single mothers strongly desired to have children. Their pregnancies were either partially intended or not seriously avoided.
  • The statistics revealed that most unmarried fathers did not lack income at the time of their child’s birth. In fact, over 60% of those fathers had no financial problems to support their future child even if the mother didn’t work.
  • Research demonstrated that most single parents are not negative about marriage as an institution. In contrary, most of them aspire healthy marriage but lack the norms, understanding, and skills to achieve it.

“Child First, Marriage Later” Philosophy

A researcher and a professor at Harvard, Kathryn Edin, discovered that most single parents have a positive attitude towards marriage in general. The problem is most of the single mothers don’t see marriage as an important part of childrearing or even an element of financial security. Young women tend to have children first and seek for a stable relationship that will lead to marriage afterwards. It’s a reversed understanding of traditional family formation, where childbearing happens after a couple gets married. Interestingly enough, many single mothers believe that it is wedding that requires careful planning whereas children “is something that happens along the way.” Typically, conceiving a child with a man they have known only a few months is not a problem, but most single mothers believe they should get to know a man steadily for four or five years before marrying him, according to Edin.

This trait is partially down to a strong emotional desire to have children. Many women, according to the research, especially with lower income, view children as the best of what life offers. Even though many single mothers understand they should have waited till they got more mature and ready to have a child, their emotional need to fulfill the life with having a baby is stronger. Typically a child is considered to be a gift by those women but is not perceived as a liability.

Unmarried Fathers and Marriage

unwed fatherUnwed fathers as mothers have similar positive attitudes towards marriage but most find it difficult to accept an idea of responsibilities and restrains associated with marriage and fatherhood. Traditionally, married men had to work hard to support their wives and children. That obligation was a necessity of life and strongly reinforced by social norms in the past. Since society no longer demands, expects, or encourages young men to become married fathers, many of them fail in making the transition to married adulthood.

The research reveals that most unwed fathers are from single-parent families and have a strong desired to be better fathers than their own. Despite the nicest intentions, they fail to understand that without marriage, the relationship with the mother is very likely to collapse, and over time they will have little contact with their children. Unfortunate truth is that most of unmarried relationships are not committed and matured enough to go a long way. Sometimes unmarried partners are trying to resolve infidelity issues only after their child has born.

Social Awareness

The reality is that romantic relationships involve some of hard work that many young people would rather avoid, if not negative consequences. Unfortunately, benefits of marriage and damaging effects of non-marital births are not being widely discussed in society. Things could be different if young men and women were explained about negative consequences of non-marital childbearing just as they are taught that dropping out of school will harm their future. At the meantime social silence about the subject continues and single parent families are rapidly, and regrettably, becoming the new norm.