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‘Love and marriage, love and marriage, Go together like a horse and carriage.
This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other…’
Or do they? Apparently not in today’s day and age, where having babies out of wedlock is becoming more commonplace, and to some degree, acceptable. According to the CDC, the highest birthrate of unmarried women is amongst Black and Hispanics, ages 20-29. Why do we think that is? Well, the CDC attributes this to a variety of factors, including substantial delays in marriage beginning with the baby-boom generation and changes in sexual activity, contraceptive effectiveness and use, and abortion. Many infants are also born to couples in ‘cohabiting relationships.’
‘Cohabiting relationships,’ also known as, shacking up with your significant other. Seems like every couple is doing that these days, before marriage is even considered. Like, okay, we’ve been dating for x amount of time so we should definitely move in together, we can do that for a while and then maybe get engaged. Perhaps.
The CDC pointed out some good reasons as to why and how babies come before marriage. I’ll add to that, by listing some other factors that play a role:
∙unplanned pregnancy i.e. ‘accidental babies’
∙ No one having real knowledge of what ‘marriage’ actually means
∙ Making babies to have a legacy that lives on
I’m going to break these points down for ya.
Accidental babies are not uncommon, and if you have a significant other, you may or may not be having unprotected sex. That’s all fine and good, until homegirl misses her period. Now she’s pregnant, ya’ll are keeping it, everything should be solid, right? Not quite. There is a stigma behind have children out of wedlock, especially when it comes to minority women and white women. People may choose not to acknowledge it, but it is real, and is worthy of conversation. Over the past few months, I have recently followed classmates from high school on social media, and have noticed something surprising. Several of my classmates had kids, but were not married. I remember one girl in particular, who was Caucasian, had a two year old. She recently married the child’s father, but I thought it was so interesting that one had come before the other. In comparison, a high school chum, who happened to be black, has two kids now with the same father. I have no idea if she plans to marry, but I know that society would label her as a ‘baby mother,’ and would assume that she would either raise the children on her own, or just live with the father of her children.
Society does not look at these two families the same. A minority woman, unmarried, with child, will be labeled a ‘baby mother.’ This title has negative undertones, stemming from how we, as women of color, are portrayed in the media, and the stigma that comes with minorities in urban areas who are assumed to be struggling and receiving help from the government. I’ll give you an example. I have a friend whose father passed when she was younger. When she was in school, everyone knew that she had a mom, and no one knew that her parents were ever married, or that her father was deceased. It was assumed that she was raised by a single parent because 1) the parents were unmarried, and it did not work out 2) the father was unknown to her. Never crossed anyone’s mind that her mother was in fact, a widow.