It started with a couple of girls in middle school “disappearing” one year, and then, in high school, a few young ladies just couldn’t seem to put their textbooks down. In a couple of months, it would all be revealed…these young ladies, my friends, if you will, were having babies.
My first encounters with unwed motherhood were shocking to say the least. I had just learned how to pronounce menstruation correctly, when my schoolmates started asking me to create names for their offspring.
But that was 1993…it’s now 2012!
And not only has the number of unwed mothers increased, we now affectionately—well, sometimes affectionately—have labeled them “babymommas.” We find humor in using the Attorney General’s official child support debit card for non-child purchases, and some will tell anyone who will listen about the drama that their babymomma or coinciding babydaddy is creating for them.
Have we become so lost in our selfish and self-satisfying lifestyles that we’ve forgotten how to create families? As a single, childless, thirtysomething year old black woman (also known as the “chupacabra”), I am personally mortified at the thought of having people ask me who my child’s father is. But, it seems that some women have no problem being a part of such a phenomenon.
We have to do better.
Child Trends (www.childtrends.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at all stages of development. This Washington-based organization, released the following statistics on out of wedlock childbirths in 2012: Seventy-three percent (73%) of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent (53%) of Latinos and 29 percent (29%) of whites. SEVENTY-THREE PERCENT?!
It’s no secret that I advocate dating with integrity, and living abstinent lifestyles in my relationship coaching practice. I am pro-celibacy, not only because of the spiritual implications of sex, but because, as a woman, I take my heart and my health into my hands with every sexual encounter. Beyond getting pregnant, the consequences of a physically intimate relationship can include (deadly) diseases and down-right confusion. Although an unwanted pregnancy should be enough to make anyone reconsider.
We live in an age where sex is commonplace and casual—and commitment optional. As one of my colleagues stated on this very website, “remember that if sex is introduced too soon, there is a good chance that your relationship will never grow to be as strong as it could be. Too soon in my opinion is having sex before marriage.”
Most couples lack the non-physical intimacy that builds the foundation for a strong relationship—many just fast forward to the “smashin’” And this is why our relationships are dysfunctional, our marriages are almost non-existent, and why we’re leaving this legacy of dysfunction to future generations.
Say it with me: We have to do better!
So, you’re not committed to each other through marriage, but you’re having sex, and now you’re pregnant, and you want him to co-parent. But, that’s not what he wants—or perhaps he does, just not with you. So, now you are bearing the requirements of raising this child–another child without a father. Even if he pays child support, the absence of the paternal figure in the home can be detrimental to this child, and while this doesn’t have to be the case, why chance it?
Here’s just a few of the possible detriments:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) — 5 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes — 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes — 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988—and this statistic is 24 years old.)
Our children deserve better than what these statistics say the future could hold for them. They deserve to be born into stable families, they deserve to see their parents loving each other daily, they deserve to be shown what a healthy relationship looks like.
The saddest part is that some people could’ve given their children so much more than a monthly check and a part-time—if that—relationship with a father. But unfortunately, they settled and now these children will have to as well.
For the last time…We must do better…period.
© 2012, Stephanie McKenzie. All rights reserved.