Thursday, February 23, 2012
When abnormal becomes the norm....
With those words the NY TIMES began an article on the stunning statistic that more than half of all births to women under the age of 30 are to unmarried women! That ought to make you sit up and take notice. If you add in women of all ages having a child, the statistic changes to 59% but the point here is clearly the wave of the future.
Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change. Read it all here. . .
Marriage has become more than merely optional -- it has become a luxury. It is what may still be desired but it has become something no longer necessary or even ordinary for children born to women 30 and under. You can blame so many reasons (breakdown of marriage overall, the numbers of young people who come from single parent homes, the availability of so many reproductive options, the perpetual adolescence of males particularly in that age group, etc.). These folks like the idea of marriage but not so much its reality. It has become an elusive ideal for people who believe that the ideal may not be worth the wait. They are content to have boyfriends instead of husbands, fathers of their children instead of mates, and sperm donors instead of dads.
Racial, economic, and educational differences are hidden in the statistics: 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.
Interestingly, those who withdraw from marriage, seem to expect more from it: emotional fulfillment as opposed merely to practical support. No one disputes that a household with a father and a mother resident together and sharing in the parental duties as well as loving and caring for each other is also better for both the parents and the children. Single parenting is still a lonely path and one filled with great intentions and failed realities. But it is fast becoming the norm and, therefore, the expectation of future generations, for women 30 and under.
It has radical consequences for the Church and the faith. One can only begin to see how this impacts upon the familiar programs of Sunday school and catechism but it certainly also will profoundly affect the participation and role in the Sunday services. We have much before us to ponder and we had better not waste any time reacting to these fundamental changes in our society! We have to do more than simply say "this is terrible...."
Such a circumstance has radical consequences for the Church and the faith. It moves from the role of the Church and the faith in the lives of the