The traditional family structure that our parents and grandparents knew is changing. More and more children reside with parents who live together but are not married. There has been controversy over the affect of single parenthood on children. The fact is, you’re not single, you’re just not married. Is your relationship causing concern because you wonder if not having a marriage certificate is affecting your child? There are ways to make it work. Let’s take a look at some statistics and challenges for unmarried parents.
The Facts and Challenges
There may be legitimate reasons parents wait to get married. It could be due to financial issues or other factors. In the past, studies have focused mainly on statistics regarding the effects single parenting has on children. However, the facts have changed because the family status has changed. In a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children born to unmarried women living with a male partner increased to 22% in 2010 from 12% in 2002. According to an article in the Atlantic Black Star, the majority of children who live with cohabitating parents will spend a substantial portion of their adolescence with both biological parents occupying the household. However, two-thirds of these parents will separate by the time the child is age 12.
David Popenoe, PhD, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University observed that unmarried parents are 50% more likely to split up and have more incidences of spousal abuse. Popenoe also states that children will have “fewer economic resources, receive less parenting from their fathers, and face a much greater risk of parental break-up, leading to two to three times the risk of serious social problems when they become adolescents and young adults, such as juvenile delinquency and teenage, out-of-wedlock childbearing.”
Making It Work
These statistics may suggest that children of unmarried parents will have a hopeless future. This does not have happen because unmarried partnerships can work!
Make sure that all legal paperwork is in order. Both parents’ names should be on the birth certificate. If you have a last will and testament, put your final wishes in writing concerning your children and your assets. Each parent needs a power of attorney document that gives each partner the right to make medical and other legal decisions. Partners should be added to each others life insurance policies and bank accounts if possible.
There are many courses of action to take to make unmarried parenting work, so there is hope. The Director of the National Marriage Project, W. Bradford Wilcox states that “Any relationship built on love and respect will thrive. And while the odds may be stacked more in favor of marriage, plenty of cohabitating couples live happily ever after without tying the knot.”