First comes baby, then comes marriage? That is the new norm for many middle-class young Americans--and they and their children are paying a price, says a new report.
With 48 percent of first births now outside of marriage, "today's unmarried twenty-something mums are the new teen mothers," says the report, released today by the National Marriage Project, the Relate Institute and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
The report says reviving cultural support for earlier marriage may be part of the solution, but some experts question that approach.
The National Marriage Project, based at the University of Virginia, has been sounding alarms about the growing disconnect between marriage and parenthood for a while. But the report is the first to make clear that a "tipping point" has been reached for many Americans in the middle class -- those who have at least a high school educations but no college degree, says Bradford Wilcox, the sociologist who directs the project...
Among young women with high school diplomas, 58 percent of first births are now outside marriage, the report says. For high-school dropouts it's 83 percent; for college-educated women it's 12 percent. The report notes that 54 percent of young women are high school graduates; 37 percent are college graduates.
Young people delay marriage to finish their educations, launch their careers and try to achieve economic security. Marriage is "something they do after they have all their other ducks in a row," according to the report. In general, the delay works out well for college-educated young people who also delay having children, it adds...
For children, the cost of having unmarried parents can be instability. According to the report: 39 percent of young unmarried parents who start out living together break up before their child is 5 years old; just 13 percent of married parents split so soon. Such upheaval hurts children, many studies have found.
The report suggests several remedies, including economic and education policy shifts that will make financial stability attainable for more young people. But it also says some who might otherwise marry are now being discouraged by parents, friends and popular culture.
"The broader culture should respect the choice of twenty-somethings to marry, especially those who have reached their mid-twenties, provided that they are in a good relationship," the report says.
May we learn from this article and not repeat the same mistakes and share the same consequences. Following are some quotes that would save a lifetime of regret and remorse.
“God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable’ (Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man's social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.”
~Conflict and Courage, page 14
“Let parents study less of the world and more of Christ; let them put forth less effort to imitate the customs and fashions of the world, and devote more time and effort to molding the minds and characters of their children according to the divine model. Then they could send forth their sons and daughters fortified by pure morals and a noble purpose, to receive an education for positions of usefulness and trust. Teachers who are controlled by the love and fear of God could lead such youth still onward and upward, training them to be a blessing to the world and an honor to their Creator.”
~Counsels Parents and Teachers, page 91,92