Mar 4, 2008

Unwed Mothers--Causes and Solutions

The National Center of Health Statistics has released preliminary 2006 statistics of births to unwed mothers in the U.S., and the news is hard to take because of its ruinous impact on our civilization.

The number of babies born to unwed mothers rose nearly 8 percent to a new record high in 2006 --a 20 percent increase since 2002. The percentage of all U.S. births to unmarried mothers increased from 36.9 percent in 2005 to 38.5 percent in 2006. That means almost two out of every five babies were born to illegitimate moms.

Compare this recent data to historical data with a minimal 3.5 percent of births to unwed mothers in the 1940s. By 1960, the figure had crept up to slightly more than 5 percent. As late as 1970, 89 percent of children were born to married women. But by the 1990s the numbers of children born to unwed mothers had dramatically jumped to the 32-33 per cent range. And the numbers increased to 38.5 percent of all births in 2006. Moreover, half of all births to unwed mothers were second and later children.

What caused the tragic growth in the number of babies conceived and born outside the bond of matrimony? I've looked high and low on the web to find a good scientific paper on the reasons for the dramatic increase and have yet to find one that adequately discusses the issues. So let this old granny take a crack at answering the question.

There are three major reasons that people avoid evil. First, if they believe in God, heaven, and hell, they either want to please Him and earn heaven, or at least want to avoid His wrath. Second, people don't err if they understand their peers will dislike them and disapprove of their bad actions. Third, most people won't do bad things if they know they will be punished by government policy or nature.

Sadly, the above reasons are all being violated in today's world. While most people say they believe in God, they reject God's punishment in hell. Go to any funeral and listen to the preacher or priest say the deceased is now in heaven. Belief in hell as taught by Jesus Christ has been abandoned, so people don't believe they will be punished for their sins. God is all good, they say, and he doesn't punish people. This belief contradicts traditional Christian teaching, "Mercy in this world, justice in the next."

The second reason deals with peer pressure. Most people avoid doing something that causes a friend, neighbor, or relative to look at them with disgust or irritation or disapproval. In parts of U.S. society today, families and friends expect and even approve of unwed motherhood, exactly the opposite of civilized societies which rightfully display indignation, shame, and sorrow over a baby that will not enjoy a lifetime of two parents.

What about government? What has it done to discourage unwed motherhood? For the past 40+ years, government has rewarded unwed motherhood with free money, free health benefits, free food, and other resources. No one seems to remember the old adage, "Actions that are rewarded will be multiplied."

If a girl or woman also believes there are few if any natural penalties for having children outside of wedlock, then why not get pregnant? Yet the natural effects from illegitimate pregnancies and child raising include poverty, inadequate care and training of children, bad behavior, crime, academic problems, bad example for the next generation, etc. The list goes on and on.

The solutions to unwed motherhood are easy to see by reading the above four paragraphs. Families, churches, neighbors, schools, and government all have roles to play in returning parenthood to exclusive married relationships.

ADDENDUM (3/30/2008)

A reader, Mary Jane, has commented: "I'm interested in your article. What are your sources for your statistics?" Here is the reply that was emailed to her.

The statistics describing births to unwed mothers are documented by the underlined references embedded in the above post. The statistics on the disadvantages and problems associated with single-parent families are sprinkled across many thousands of pages of the Internet. For example, see the Princeton-Brookings website.

If you ask for statistics to buttress my opinions on the causes and solutions of unwed motherhood, then perhaps taking the observations one at a time might be profitable.

I believe the first reason for the increase in unwed motherhood is the decreasing fear of displeasing God and the absence of belief in the possibility of being punished in hell. To look for statistics on changing religious viewpoints in the U.S., try the Pew Forum or the Barna Group. The latter group noted in 2003 that even though 73 percent of Americans believe in hell, "just one-half of 1% expect to go to Hell upon their death."

People have always embraced excuses for their bad choices, but now very few peers exist who have the fortitude to criticize their family and friends for undesirable behavior. The second reason for the increasing number of children born out of wedlock is that Americans are superbly trained by our over-tolerant culture never to say anything that offends anyone. In fact, that concept has been embodied in anti-harassment laws.

The lack of good peer pressure means girls are often proud they are pregnant and about to have a baby with their boyfriend. Unwed mothers wear the badge of single-motherhood as a badge of honor, whereas in the bad old days they had to wear a scarlet letter. Murphy Brown was defiantly proud of being an "unwed mother." She assumed the role of an independent woman, the do-it-all woman; so why should we be surprised that others have emulated her?

The appearance of rewards constitutes the third reason for increased rates of out-of-wedlock children. What are the rewards? Some of the governmental rewards include (see 2008 report of state expenditures on replacement programs for Aid to Dependent Children in Connecticut):
  1. Temporary Family Assistance(cash assistance)
  2. Child Care Subsidies
  3. Transitionary and other Rental Assistance Programs
  4. Transition to Employment Independence Program
  5. School-Based Health Centers
  6. Medicaid-funded health insurance for children and adult caretaker relatives
  7. Helping unwed mothers obtain financial and medical support from boyfriends
  8. Safety Net Services, including clothing, food, employment assistance and case management
  9. Etc.
Mary Jane, Thank you for your question.


Mary Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mote said...

perhaps we could just paint a big red W on their foreheads...

then stone them.

then tell everyone they are in hell now, and cant damage our vanity anymore.

or maybe we could just try doing something more productive than enforcing social law through fear, threat and judgement- which has a failure record of near 100%

Proud Mother said...

..."the natural effects from illegitimate pregnancies and child raising include poverty, inadequate care and training of children, bad behavior, crime, academic problems, bad example for the next generation, etc. The list goes on and on."...

I could not disagree more. You are classifying all unwed mothers into one group. Just like doing that with race or age, this is simply ignorant.
I am officially an unwed mother, but am not a single parent. My boyfriend and I have been together longer than many new parents have been married (or have even known one another!). We do not live in poverty and I do not believe that it will cause my child to become a criminal. You speak of God and how it is a sin to have a child out of wedlock. For that I have a question. How did people become married in biblical times? Did they go to the local courthouse and receive a marriage license? I doubt it. Just because we have not gone through the legal system to "validate" our relationship does it make it a sin? I don't feel that it does.
On another note, I do not see how the problems that you listed ("poverty, inadequate care and training of children, bad behavior, crime, academic problems, bad example for the next generation") suddenly disappear when someone gets married. These are problems that many married couple have.

Anonymous said...

You speak so freely with your condemnation of other's sins. If you are a believer in Christ as God's son, you will know that he is full of compassion. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one an only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18

carser said...

As a married parent, former teacher, and someone who makes a living by renting apartments to low and middle income people, I have observed the plight of the unwed mother for over 30 years. At first, they are proud and happy that they and their boyfriend are going to be parents. As time goes on, a few of the boyfriends become husbands. A few of the boyfriends stay and are good fathers and partners. The majority of the boyfriends fade out of the picture and get on with their lives without their girlfriend and child/children. In CT, where I live, the state support is meager and encourages the break up of families. Unfortunately, many girls see having a baby and getting state support as a career move because they have no idea how much it actually costs to live and raise a child. When one has few marketable skills, jobs are limited and pay is low. The state has a day-care program, but many day-care providers refuse to participate because of all the red tape and mistakes in getting paid. Without day-care, employment is nearly impossible. Single motherhood is a very hard life for most girls. There are exceptions, but most single mothers are having a difficult time.

Anonymous said...

In this day and age there is only one reason why a girl would become pregnant. Because they want to. They want something to love, they think it will keep the guy around, they don't want the guy but need his sperm to get a baby and figure she probably won't find anyone else to do her.

It is time to stop rewarding unwed mothers with child support and welfare. (one girl I know got a townhouse, 50 hours of child care, 2 years free education, medical care, food stamps. Basically everthing except a car, telephone and money for cigs.

A woman that has a baby out of wedlock is an unwed mother, not a single parent. The only single parent I know is one that pays to be artifically inseminated. The other mommy's are either married, divorced or widowed. Let's get it straight people.

Anonymous said...

Is there actually someone out there who feels the same way I do about this subject? Amazing! I totally agree with anonymous, by the way. I have heard some of the same stories - the government comes running with love baskets for the irresponsible.

Remember - when well-meaning people deflect the consequnces of living wrong, they also remove the incentive to live right.

Birth control is accessible, almost idiot-proof, and much cheaper than raising a child. If you're going to give it up to a man who's not willing to commit to you first, then for pity's sake take your pill!

Anonymous said...

Ummmm.... birth control can fail, people make mistakes... I grew up in church and fell away from God, got pregnant when using birth control. I never went on state assistance, finished college, never lived with a man and have never been married and my son is almost 14 years old.. No matter what I do people, especially Christian’s women want to throw rocks at me and curse me. What am I to do?

My son is a human being and I love him just as much as any other mother. What should I do, isolate him and myself? Actually, I have done that for myself. I have no friends and I work and take care of my son. I pray and read the bible and go to church with my son. I come in and leave quickly from church so no one will feel the pain and agony of having such worthless things in their church. This is how I am supposed to be right? Forever punishing myself and forever grieving because then everyone around me knows that I realize that I am worthless because I got pregnant. It doesn't matter that I am educated and probably have a better job then most their husbands do.

I was going to do an adoption when I was pregnant, but I was told by my father that I would burn in hell if I gave my son up for adoption. He told me told get on my knees and beg god for forgiveness and thank him for the gift of a child. My father is Christian (although he will not admit to the molestation he did to me when I was 6 years old before he became a Christian)

Well one day I will die and be in heaven and until then I will hide away and make sure my filth (unwed) doesn't scar and damage everyone around me.

Dust I Am said...

I would suggest that readers also see a related post on Why So Many...

Anonymous said...

The cause is called "KNOB".

Katherine said...

Wow - it must be so nice to look down on everyone atop your throne! I pity your ignorance. As a christian woman of are a disgrace & I'm sure you'll get your own dose of justice in the next life. First & last time I'll ever read your blog. Thanks for reminding everyone that there are worse things than being a single mother in today's society.....I could be you.

Anonymous said...

Over 40 years ago, I was an unwed mother. I think it is great that the original blog started with someone giving thought to the reasons this happens, but personally, none of those relate to me.

Everyone has their own image of how life is supposed to be. At 16, a fear ran throught me that at 18, I should be on my own and out of the house, and yet I did not even have a boyfriend yet. Feeling undesirable, but seeking love, and being naive, I thought I could get what I needed by "going all the way". Pregnancy was something that happened to other people--like car
accidents or something. I didn't give a thought to much of anything, except that people grow up, get married and have kids and I
was nearly at the "grown up" part and not ready for it. I clumsily thought that this is just what you
do in life, and didn't expect the
outcome of pregnancy or rejection.
I felt loved when the boy wanted to be with me...