(Originally posted on June 15, 2012. …before I got married. Ha!)
Today I was disturbed to overhear someone talking about new statistics out on babies and unwed mothers and how with Father’s Day coming up, we should really promote fathers sticking around and being fathers. While there are a lot of fathers who need to be nudged in the right direction, there are equally a lot of mothers out there who need a nudge as well. Also these particular statistics, don’t necessarily speak to the parenting problem in America at all. I think they speak more to the argument against marriage.
Sure the statistics read that 53% of children born in America are born to unwed mothers, but of that 53%, 40% of those children go home to both biological parents living in the same home. That leaves 13% for the “one night stand” scenario. I’d like to know the statistic of how many children who came home from the hospital at birth to a home with married parents, who still had married parents at age 10. What are the differences in these children and the children of that 53% socially, economically, academically, and emotionally?
Divorce and breakups between people who are not married are both very hard things for families to go through, but I am of the belief that a divorce is much harder on everyone involved. The biggest reason for this, is that people on the outside of the relationship are brought into it and given the task of sorting through the remains of a dead marriage. This includes the minor children. Some think a waiting period between the filing date and the finalization is a good thing that gives couples time to be sure that they are doing the right thing. I personally believe it just drags out a process that is already hard enough. A breakup, on the other hand, can be handled quickly and between only those in the family. This not only cuts down on talk inside the home about attorneys, the law, legal documents, waiting periods and parenting classes but also keeps a level of privacy, so the children involved don’t have to hear all about it from the legal secretary’s kids at school.
Fewer and fewer people actually want to be married any more. Society tries to promote and even push traditional marriage onto some unwilling souls by calling it morally the right thing to do. I believe that’s one reason that so many marriages fail. Society has changed so much over the last several decades, that traditional marriage just doesn’t fit anymore. The perfect role model for a mother in the 50’s was June Clever. The June Clevers of today are a small percentage who can afford to stay home all day, have dinner ready when Dad gets home and mend socks all evening. The role model of today’s society is Angelina Jolie. She sewed her wild oats when she was young and now has a live – in man, 6 kids, a career and her volunteer work. In June’s day, it was admirable to stay at home and do nothing but hold the house and the family together. Dad made all the important decisions and Mom made sure they were carried out from start to finish. Angelina and women of today could easily look back at June as a weak little follower who didn’t have the ambition or self-confidence to think for herself. Today’s woman doesn’t want to be viewed in that light.
Marriage use to be thought of as a partnership filled with love, trust, security, and butterflies and flowers but now, for many, it is more of a weapon in the power struggle of family life. This weapon could be used by the man or the woman with equal potential for strength. Sometimes it’s leverage for control and other times it’s used as financial terrorism. A lot of couples just consciously make the decision to keep certain things in their lives separate and join others. I believe the biggest reason that people aren’t getting married is for financial reasons and health care, in my opinion has a lot to do with that.
Unless you live in that gritty part of society where families live from pay check to pay check, you probably can’t understand that these people are one illness or injury away from complete financial ruin even if they do have health insurance. For example, if a married couple has a sick child with insurance, whatever the insurance won’t pay falls on the shoulders of both parents. This could reach into the tens of thousands of dollars very quickly. When living from pay check to pay check, there is little left over to pay for things like this especially after paying insurance co-pays and deductibles. In this scenario, both parents are liable for the debt and both can have wages garnished which leads to less money for day to day expenses such as rent or mortgage, transportation, food, clothing and the like. They stand to lose everything. If this same scenario played out with an unmarried couple, only one of the parents would sign documentation to be liable for the medical costs and if garnishments were put into effect, at least the family could survive a little easier without the loss of the other parent’s income.
Another financial reason that couples with children decide not to marry could involve tax credits. We are told that filing a tax return as “married” earns tax cuts that aren’t afforded to single people. The thing to keep in mind here is that when filing a joint tax return, it combines the income of two people and treats it as one entity. You will likely find yourself swimming at the bottom of a higher tax bracket. Single mothers who file their children as dependents on tax returns usually fair very well with tax credits.
If someone is concerned enough about this statistic to want to put the word out and make some kind of change or shift, they would need to start with sweetening the pot for couples who marry and stop using moral and religious propaganda to force people into bad marriages. Sure, it would be great to have all children in America living in the home with married biological parents until they reach adulthood and marry for themselves. But is it a realistic idea for this day and age?
Are you being pushed toward marriage on moral grounds? Is legal marriage really all that important?