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Well, I held it off as long as I could but now I just have to speak up. And considering this blog is dedicated to trends, I felt it was an appropriate format to talk about the trend of unmarried couples having the babies.

It's no secret that over the past few decades, single parent households have increased (although not as much as you may think...according to the U.S. Census, single parent households were at about 9 percent from 1994 through 2006, up from 5 percent in 1970).

Some attribute it to a decline of society or family values. Others say marriage isn't really relevant anymore and many people purposely choose not to get married.

My thoughts? It's probably a combination of a lot of things.

But while people will talk until they are blue in the face about the issues surrounding unwed mothers and fathers, little seems to be said from the ones this issue affects the most: the kids.

I, myself, am the product of an unwed union. (Gasp!). My mother was 19, my father in his early 20s and nine months and one defective prophylactic later, here I am. Now granted, after they got the news, Daddio oh-so-romantically handed my mom a ring and said "You want it?" She said yes, but then decided to call the whole thing off because he happened to be an abusive drug user.

Mom felt she could do a better job on her own, especially when she gave him the ultimatum of either stop the drugs and take care of your daughter or we walk. His response? Lighting up a joint.

So we walked.

She raised me by herself and you know what? I did not end up in jail, or using public assistance programs, or become pregnant as a teen, or abuse drugs, or get low grades, or whatever other number of issues that the statistics show about us poor little children of the unwed.

Instead, I am a college-educated professional 26-year-old in a healthy relationship with a successful man (who is, if I do say so myself, wicked hot).

My mother never once used a public assistance program, managed to get her college degree while I was a toddler and by the time I was 12, she had bought a big, two story house in the country all by her lonesome.

And yet, even though my mother and I did fine with our little family of two, both of us still get "those" looks when people find out. You know what I'm talking about. That look that says my mother was a teenage tramp and I'm her juvie delinquent child.

And I'm sure other single mothers or fathers and their kids get those looks. In fact, on a recent story Advocate reporter Bj Lewis did for Father's Day, people were giving those looks via the Internet on the discussion forum. They were shocked and appalled that the paper featured a brand new father who wasn't married to the mother.

One poster even said that the child now has the odds stacked against him. To that I say, odds can be stacked against you only if you let them. I never felt odds were stacked against me. And if they were, I pushed them over and stepped daintily through them.

A couple posters even said the story made them ill.

And to that I say, I'm sorry that the way I happened to be raised makes you so sick, but you know what? It's better than if my mom had actually married my father. I'm pretty sure being raised by a junkie who had the potential to be violent would have given me many more issues as an adult than, God forbid, being raised by a single mother.

Marriage does not necessarily good parents make. Anyone can reproduce and being legally married does not change who you are. If two people marry, why does that suddenly make them upstanding citizens and capable of being a parent, which from what I've heard, is the hardest job you'll ever have?

Why do people think it is better for a child to be raised in a house where parents are always fighting, or hate each other, or end up divorced, rather than by a single parent?

Now granted, the best case scenario is when two people who love each other have a child and raised it together. But this is far from a perfect world and those that are able to have that are very lucky.

My mom wasn't so lucky but she did an incredible job raising me and she didn't need a ring on her finger to do so.

And to all single parents out there and their kids, keep your heads up. Let them judge. Let them give "those" looks. They have no idea that what it really takes to raise a great kid is love, not a legal document.

And to my own mother, thanks. Thanks for resisting the societal pressure to get married when you knew it was better for us to be on our own. Thanks for having the courage to walk away and endure all "those" looks. And thanks for passing on that strength to me.