by Lisa Fogarty
When it comes to love and marriage, millennials, which is what we call those young, spry folks between the ages of 18 and 33, are choosing not to drink that particular, delicious flavor of Kool-Aid. Instead, almost half -- 47 percent -- of millennial women who had babies in 2012 did it without a wedding ring on their finger. Just to give you an idea of how significant a change that is from the generation that preceded it, 35 percent of Generation X moms raised children unmarried when they were that age.
So, why the loss of interest in getting married and raising a family? Many point to the fact that economic issues are getting in the way of tying the knot. Many millennials say they want to get married, but don't feel financially secure enough to do so. Maybe we can look at the fact that most are less religious than young adults were in the past. Whatever the reason: is it such a bad thing that young women are taking charge of their desires to have babies without the help of husbands?
The first thing we need to remember when we see a stat like the one above is that it doesn't provide details about whether young women are actually raising children by themselves, or whether they're choosing to raise them with men who are involved, but not their legal spouses.
As someone who values marriage and really wants my own to work out until the day one of us kicks the bucket, I feel a little sad that these women are not finding the same value in a married partnership that I find. When we signed our marriage certificate, I didn't decide right then and there that I would be faithful or try my damnedest to make things work -- that committment came long before I wore a pretty dress and walked down an aisle. But I'd be lying if I said being married doesn't make me a more committed partner or one that is willing to work even harder than I would if I were single and living with my husband. Different strokes for different folks -- marriage works for me.
With that said, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND why marriage is not for everyone, especially for young people who have probably witnessed the dissolution of so many marriages in their lifetimes. Marriage is treated very lightly in some circles, so why would everyone feel it cements a relationship?
And when it comes to having babies, well, it feels like an understatement to say we send lots of mixed messages to young women. One moment they're hearing older women complain about how they waited a decade for the "perfect" man to come along and how they now can't have children. The next moment, they're being told children need male role models and won't grow up "stable" in a single parent household.
But maybe they're figuring out their own way to do things and, possibly, it isn't as bad as we may think. Perhaps marriage isn't the answer to happiness, in their opinion. Maybe it's enough to have children because they want them and to raise them with partners who are involved, but may (or may not) be their only romantic partners for the rest of their lives. Maybe they just aren't willing to commit so permanently when they've seen so many marriages go belly-up. Can we blame them?
What do you think about the fact that fewer young moms are choosing to get married?