Whoop-de-do. Mega-stars Brad and Angelina are engaged and their six “kids are thrilled.” But, the couple apparently is not in any hurry to marry. No date set. No idea when.
It’s clear that I’m an old fogey, a social conservative who believes the new norm in regard to marriage — or should I say, non-marriage — is a tragic trend in a world where kids struggle to find role models and stability.
Lovely Angelina might think herself unique; however, she’s just one of the masses in a growing trend of older, unmarried mothers. Two decades ago, 28 percent of births in the United States were to single mothers. That number is now up to 45 percent — a trend once dominated by teens, but not anymore.
The U.S. Center for Health Statistics (CHS), as per the Heritage Foundation, (email@example.com, April 12, 2012), reports teen births have dropped, in some places, 50 percent. That’s certainly something to celebrate.
But, not so fast: Today, 75 percent of the current increase in unwed births is among women between the ages of 18-29. Ms. Angelina doesn’t fit into that age group anymore, but not to worry; she’s plenty sure of herself. I do wonder if she cares about her influence on women who don’t have her economic status. Or if she’s proud of the message she sends to her children.
We already know that “single-parent families are much more likely to be dependent on government welfare,” but consider this: Additionally, children raised outside of married-parent homes are at greater risk for a “variety of negative outcomes.” Angelina’s clearly not worried about all that stuff and though the icon is admired by many, her example promises sorrow.
And, so we can ask, why is society so quiet on this trend? Could it be the answer is the protection of adult gratification, enhanced by ignorance of consequences? And, marriage advocates are rendered quiet by peer pressure?
I enjoy watching real estate shows on cable TV. It’s common to see unmarried parents buying homes. They’ll commit to a mortgage contract, but not to their union. In one show, the mother, a real estate agent, ferried her daughter and the daughter’s boy friend around as they looked to buy a home to celebrate their first year of dating.
We’re moving at high speed away from the very culture, which stabilized children and families for centuries. We debate the tragedy of national debt left for the next generations, and of children’s physical safety and health as per McDonald’s, on and on. Yet the lack of attention to the value of married parents and stable homes is ignored.
As I see it, self indulgence is at the root of this sorrow. If mom and dad are compatible enough to live together, why not teach — through example — the value in relationship commitments by certifying intentions. Some describe commitments as “psychological contracts.” Thus, we mentally identify who we are and seek a partner who wants the same. Life without relationship commitments reaps emptiness, a hollowness, which is never filled, thus leading to addictions and destructive behavior. Hedging one’s bets is costly.
Yes, it seems divorce began this ugly matter. Numbers shot up about the time “free love” was the new recreational God in the 60s and 70s. Then marriage became a nuisance.
Don’t bother writing me in support of divorce. This review is not about dangerous relationships. I encourage couples to flee from the sick, violent and ugly. This discussion is about vision, maturity, self-discipline and sacrifice. It’s about the children.
Start your search engines. If you’re looking, there is more social science evidence on the Web to support my premise, but common sense trumps all stats. On the other hand, maybe it’s easier not to know. Maybe it’s just easier to follow Angelina down the slippery slope.
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.