Being A Single Mom Isn’t Another ‘Bad’ Idea, Like ‘Littering’ Or ‘Drinking And Driving’

By  | 

study claims single mothers bad idea Susan Reimer, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, has written an article about a recent study conducted by the researchers at the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the Relate Institute. The study, entitled  “Knot Yet: The benefits and costs of delayed marriage in America” states statistics about unmarried women having children in their twenties and :

At its conclusion calls for a “national conversation” that might — as has happened with other bad ideas, like smoking, littering, and drinking and driving — change this behavior, which bodes so poorly for the future of both the parents and the kids.


Yes, you read that correctly, being an unwed mother is being compared to drinking and driving. Susan bases her opinion on:

It is the numbers that make all of this so alarming. Almost half of first births in this country are to unmarried women. Almost half.

And while baby before marriage has not been rare among the most disadvantaged, it is now epidemic among the working class — those with high school degrees and perhaps some college. Exactly those Americans affected most by the loss of stable manufacturing jobs on which to build a middle-class life.

Fifty-eight percent of this group will have the first child outside of marriage.

And these children are vulnerable to the same lousy outcomes of children born to teen mothers: family instability, school failure, trouble with addictions or the law and then another generation born out of wedlock.

Born out of wedlock! Oh no! This entire article is annoying and so judgmental, this whole “Older women putting babies before marriage risk same negative consequences (as teen mothers)” that I don’t even know where to start. A woman at age 25 who has a child out of wedlock is vastly different in terms of maturity than a teen who has a baby at age 15. There are thousands of singe women in their twenties who are doing just fine, who will raise kids who excel in school, who never have problems with the law or addiction, who go on to become incredibly successful adults. A lot of women don ‘t want to follow the magical formula presented by Bradford Wilcox, one of the authors of the study and head of the National Marriage Project, which he calls a “sequence for success”: education, job, marriage, children.

Sometimes life just doesn’t work out that way. And not all women want to do things in that order. And shockingly enough, some women don’t feel like they need to get married. Not to mention this whole article ignores the reality that some single moms and dads just happen to be gay and can’t get married even if they want to. This just reeks of some outdated “traditional family values” that haven’t been “traditional” in over 50 years. If half of the first time births in this country belong to unmarried women than isn’t it time we start treating unmarried women with the respect they deserve?

Education is important, but not all women want to hold jobs or have careers that require a formal education. For the women that do, we need more affordable and accessible child care, with excellent care-givers that we want to trust to take care of our children. But even this isn’t something just for single moms in their twenties, this should be for all women regardless of marital status or education level or career path. The article then goes on to state that our new best friend Bradford Wilcox suggests we “steer clear of the shame card” and:

That generates a real sense of division. I would talk in terms of aspirations.

I think most unmarried mothers have the same “aspirations” as married women who have children, that they grow up to be happy, healthy, productive members of society. Just because a woman isn’t married doesn’t mean she doesn’t want the best for her child, and I think I could probably come up with many single moms who agree with me.

(Photo:  deepblue-photographer/shutterstock)