What Are We Really Teaching Our Children About Life And Love?

by Danielle Pointdujour

There was a time when stability was the norm. Men courted women, married, moved in, had kids and stayed together until death do them part, literally. This was the standard order of things and anything but was seen as a scandalous taboo, however nowadays things are a bit more complex. Less people are getting married let alone staying married and as for waiting until after the wedding bells to live together and have kids, well let’s just say that more than a handful of us would’ve been the talk of the town. But could this attitude be the reason why many of our youth are heading down the wrong path? According to the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, it is.

During a study they conducted last year results showed that children of cohabiting parents are more prone to “externalizing disorders, more aggression,” as well as “internalizing disorders, more depression.” The study also found that children who get to know all of mommy and daddy’s ‘friends,’ don’t have a firm sense of stability, and will likely end up shying away from marriage altogether when they grow up. In addition it was noted that “Cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing is as much a symptom of the instability of children’s lives as it is a cause of it.” Hmmm, sound familiar? I’m sure many of us have lived this exact scenario. How many people do you know who were born out of wedlock? How many of those people are married now? How many of them are repeating the cycle and exposing their children to the same thing? Bet you know at least a handful.

For all the talk we do as a nation about how out of control our youth seem to be today, our actions do nothing to solve the issues. The number of co-habitating couples and out of wedlock children are on the rise and so are the number of children carrying out violent acts, dropping out of school and even committing suicide. Coincidence? Maybe. However, I agree with the study’s findings. We are the reason our children have issues. If children learn by example, then we are the poorest example in the bunch. Those of us who would rather live together to save money before we live together in marriage are the problem. Those of us who shrug off our out of wedlock kids because ‘Hey sh*t happens,’ are the problem. Those of us that think there is no problem are the problem. But as much as we are the cause of these ills in our children, we are also the cure. It may be time to go back to the way things used to be. It may be time to shift the focus away from one of self indulgence and convenience and towards traditional values. We need to set the example, the proper example. Perhaps the old ways aren’t so bad after all.

  • chanela

    Awww damn. the volcano is about to erupt up in hurrr.

  • kaya

    I know at you mean, had to scroll back up to see the author’s name and was thinking what author would be so bold? But this should be real interesting, really fast.

  • Natsuka (Summer Child)

    Children aren’t being taught much of anything about life and love.

  • Kate

    Wow, is this a joke? The Institute of American Values? Surely the most trustworthy and unbiased form of information gathering there is…

    “The number of co-habitating couples and out of wedlock children are on the rise and so are the number of children carrying out violent acts, dropping out of school and even committing suicide. Coincidence? Maybe.”
    -Though I am sure it is true that children from unstable family backgrounds are more likely to engage in destructive behaviour, please do not insult unmarried couples by implying that they are/would be terrible parents simply due to the fact that they chose not to be married. Young gay/trans/queer people are also more likely to attempt suicide, are you going to suggest that sexuality has a direct affect on mental health? Or is it possible that it is the way society treats these young people that makes them so vulnerable?
    Also, who even uses the phrase “out of wedlock” anymore?
    http://static.flickr.com/54/139092366_ce5b410228_o.jpg
    I suggest you take a look at this graph regarding the correlation between dwindling pirate numbers, and rising global warming. Coincidence? Maybe.

    “Those of us who would rather live together to save money before we live together in marriage are the problem. Those of us who shrug off our out of wedlock kids because ‘Hey sh*t happens,’ are the problem.”
    - What?! Sex before marriage? Shock horror, what about the children!? Let’s be clear, I have absolutely no problem with people abstaining from OR having sex before marriage (if they chose to get married). But once again you are making an assumption on people’s childrearing abilities based on the legal statuses of their relationships, and this is entirely inappropriate.

    I’d like to apologise if my comments seem unnecessarily harsh, but I truly am deeply offended by the suggestion that opposite sex marriage (Ok, I’m jumping to conclusions here, but I assume you are not supportive of same-sex relationships. Just a hunch), is the single cornerstone of society.
    For what it’s worth, I have two loving married parents. If you want to live a traditional (read: traditional contemporary western world) family life, because that is what you think would work best with your family and your values, please go right ahead. However, insulting other people’s relationships purely based on their marital status is incredibly ignorant and offensive.

  • MC

    I agree with the notion of two parent married households providing stability and security for all the children involved. I believe every couple should follow the proper order of things by getting married and having kids and staying together forever. Unfortunately, no matter how much these ideas are reinforced in our society real life will never precisely reflect that. No matter how much Gods word is preached and His values are hallowed there will always be sin. Just like there will always be racism, crime, hate and war.

    I also think that more emphasis is put on getting married then actually staying married and we see this with step families being the norm or single divorcees with children being exempt from the same backlash a single never married parent would recieve. A co worker of mine had her first kid out of wedlock at 19 with her boyfriend, later got married, had three more kids and now today are still married and in their sixties, and to quote her ”it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”. I think Everyone should strive to live up to those values.

  • Anon

    If you had the benefit of a married family, you might be missing the point here.

  • Tricia

    Hey take it easy with that post….. you might just offend some one here with your old-fashioned views!

  • grateful

    don’t you know that you’re not supposed to say anything negative about anything “out-of-wedlock” here?

    LOL

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Well said Danielle Pontdejour. I totally agree.

    There are so many unwanted Black American babies that they are being shipped overseas and to Canada now.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Kate,
    I can assure you that if a woman uses birth control and her boyfriend uses a condom, the likelihood of becoming pregnant decreases rapidly.

    Also if you’re going to have premarital sex, play it smart. You see how some men have a carefree attitude when it comes to women today, it’s because sex as become a very cheap commodity. Girls have p0r.n s*x with men who won’t even buy them a 99 cent hamburger from McDonalds much less a gold band and a marriage license.

    And before you jump on the “money isn’t everything” or “ I’m independent” most men won’t spend their money on a woman they don’t give a darn about. When a man spends his hard earned money to take you out to a nice dinner or brunch and doesn’t expect you to pay half, he’s showing you he is a provider.

    @Anon,C, H- ladies we need some finishing schools. We can have finishing schools without throwing away all of the positive gains from feminism.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    *decreases sharply*

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Sometimes the truth is painful.

  • tisme

    Chic Noir, I’d like to know your thoughts on people who got married first then had children and the father still walked away and now pretends the children never existed?

    I ask because I know many women who did things “the right way”,this includes both parents financially providing for their kids WITHOUT the help of the government, and the women still ended up taking care of children alone.

    This has led me to have what I think some people would consider to be an extreme outlook on things.I definitely agree that women should not have children with men that are not committed, but now I personally think the majority of black women should NOT have children with black men even if they are married.This is due to the high divorce rates and too many single parents as the result of these divorces and the children suffer hardships with the loss of an income.I also think that the majority of black women should stop having sexual relationships with black men as well.I know women who have contracted std’s from their boyfriends and husbands that they thought they were in a monogamous relationship with.

    I believe that many black men,and I think most,don’t believe in monogamy.I don’t believe black men will be monogamist even with their ideal/standard/trophy woman.Therefore I think women should seriously reconsider having anything serious,and children are serious,with black men.

    I think that only women who are into man sharing should consider black men.I think knowing going into a situation that the guy you are with is going to have sex with other women puts women in a mindset where they will protect themselves even in marriage to a black man from disease.I think if they go into a relationship with a black man with the mindset that they will be sharing some of them would be less likely to get pregnant and have children.

  • http://sodivinemagazine.com/blog/ Shenelle

    *APPLAUSE* It’s about time someone stood up for truth and spoke it. Excellent article Danielle. Very well said. Luvs it. ALL of it!

  • TheTuth

    “This has led me to have what I think some people would consider to be an extreme outlook on things.I definitely agree that women should not have children with men that are not committed, but now I personally think the majority of black women should NOT have children with black men even if they are married.This is due to the high divorce rates and too many single parents as the result of these divorces and the children suffer hardships with the loss of an income.I also think that the majority of black women should stop having sexual relationships with black men as well.I know women who have contracted std’s from their boyfriends and husbands that they thought they were in a monogamous relationship with.

    I believe that many black men,and I think most,don’t believe in monogamy.I don’t believe black men will be monogamist even with their ideal/standard/trophy woman.Therefore I think women should seriously reconsider having anything serious,and children are serious,with black men.

    I think that only women who are into man sharing should consider black men.I think knowing going into a situation that the guy you are with is going to have sex with other women puts women in a mindset where they will protect themselves even in marriage to a black man from disease.I think if they go into a relationship with a black man with the mindset that they will be sharing some of them would be less likely to get pregnant and have children.”

    I hate to break it to you but Black Women don’t have a reputation of being chaste virgins their own damn selves.

  • Kate

    Anon: You are absolutely right in that I have greatly benefited from having two supportive parents, but I think what this article should have been discussing is perhaps how children can be negatively affected by divorce, or abusive parents, rather than simply their parent’s marital status. Yep, my parents are married, but I have friends who are lovely, well adjusted people with divorced/single parents. I also have friends with married parents who have a terrible relationship with their family. A marriage contract is not a magical bandaid for lacklustre parenting.

    Chic Noir: Yes, contraception reduces the risks involved in having multiple/casual sexual partners. I hope I didn’t imply that sex never had consequences. What I meant to say was that when people are in a loving and long-term relationship, the fact that they are or aren’t married is not the only indicator as to whether they are good or bad parents. There is absolutely a huge difference between committed parents, and those who had a one night stand and aren’t desiring of, or capable of raising, children.

    Some do have a casual attitude towards their sexual partners – Many people are happy to engage in casual or polyamorous relationships for example, but ‘casual’ is incredibly different from ‘lacking in respect’. I’m pretty that you are referring to the latter, and I totally agree that this is an incredibly degrading relationship for the person being used.
    Also, and I’m sure we can all agree, that with unplanned pregnancy, women are the ones that are most affected. What I’ve been saying, in all my overly long comments (sorry, everyone :) ), is that this article seemed to imply that premarital sex/unmarried couples are destroying society and ruining children’s lives, and that married couples are and always will be, better parents.

  • tisme

    I never said that black women did have a reputation of chaste virgins but I am saying that black women sully and ruin their own lives by 1.believing they can have a monogamist relationship with men that for the most part DON’T BELIEVE IN MONOGAMY.

    2.By believing the can change men and their minds.

    I do think black women who deal with black men need to take responsibility for THEMSELVES and their actions.

    They should stop kidding themselves believing that their relationships with black men will be or are monogamist and take precautions to maintain their health and don’t have children with black men to avoid being single parents.

  • http://livefromthematrix.wordpress.com TAE

    i agree to a certain extent, i’m sure there are couples who co-habitate who are just as stable and loving as couples who are legally married, i think as far as parenting goes and what the family looks like it’s dependent on the two individuals within that relationship and how dedicated they are to providing a safe, nuturing, and loving environment for their children. But as it stands, right now, I hate love. Like I love love in theory but I feel like the type of love I see in practice is all effed up. I was just thinking about this today I swear!

    I went with my mother and father to their senior prom, in my momma’s belly. My parents finally married when I was 5 and seperated when I was 8. Though I love both of them DEARLY and know they did the best they could to raise me and my siblings, I know that what I witnessed in their relationship affected me negatively and as a grown woman the relationships that I’ve tried to have and my overall outlook on love and marriage has been tainted by those early experiences of what love looks like in ways that have been hard to reverse. It was like a domino effect, it rippled into so many other areas of my life it’s hard to even think about where I would be or how I would think if I wouldn’t have had those experiences. Truthfully I feel like “real” love is almost extinct. I don’t know many blissfully happy couples except for my grandparents. I don’t many blissfully happy married couples with children. I know a whole lotta baby mommas and baby daddies though, not that I’m judging them, but I’ve seen the drama that the majority of them go through and I can’t, I don’t even have the patience or emotional stability to go through none of that. In conclusion, the way I see it the majority of our youth are learning nothing useful when it comes to love and maintaining healthy relationships. The few shining examples they have are few and far in between, just my humble opinion though.

  • http://www.itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    *Ouch* Danielle, you know the audience you’re writing for right? Most women on this site wave that flag of “feminism” (read: any anti-traditional values/ gender roles) and believe they can do EVERYTHING by themselves, including raising children. And in the end it is the child that gets hurt and is without. I really really appreciate this piece and wish people would stop ignoring the facts when they are EVERYWHERE!

  • mamareese

    I am a single parent but I do admit I need my child’s father in order to give an even balance of how men and women should interact. How can I tell them to do it on their own when it’s not our design? We are all meant to have a companion to walk with in life. There is a differnce between teaching a child to expect love and to give it as well than to tell them love yourself and stand alone.

  • Laniece B.

    Personally, I agree that nowadays people are not doing things in the order… date, marriage, move in, have kids, and live happily ever after. Although it’s not an excuse but THINGS DO HAPPEN, and that’s why through GOD’s grace and mercy, he is a forgiver. No matter our situation, no one is without sin. Therefore, I commend people who CHOOSE to have their children instead of aborting them. They CHOOSE to man/woman up and face the consequences of their actions. A couple may not be married, but who’s to say that they won’t ever get married? GOD has a timing for everything. Who says that man and woman can’t come together and raise a child to have good moral and values. There are plenty of people that get a divorce nowadays… Check the numbers. There are people who come from married parent homes and still go down the “wrong path”. You may think there is an IDEA environment to raise a child in but different factors such as society, church, etc have just as much influence on the child. A child has to be in a loving, supportive, healthy, nurturing, stable, etc environment. I don’t care if that child is raised by an aunt, mother-father unmarried, grandparent, or what… They still have a CHANCE! Stop dogging out men and women who actually TRY to provide and raise their child to their best abilities. Give them support in time of need. It takes a village to raise a child. What are we doing to help our society? Are we giving them parenting classes? Are we giving them relationship counseling? OR are we telling them that they will fail at life and fail their children and everyone will be doomed!! Let me KNOW!

  • CurlySue

    Lol, isn’t what the author is stating common sense? Are we really at a point in history where there is an actual argument as to whether raising children in a stable, married household is more beneficial than raising one in a single-parent or non-married household? And I don’t care about outliers and the random “well, I turned out fine” anecdote. The evidence speaks for itself in every sociological study done. I consider myself a feminist. In that I mean I support women having full and equal rights and will fight for such. But I see no way in which someone could legitimately use feminism to dismiss what is a plain truth: Children thrive when in a stable, financially and emotionally sound environment. And I don’t think this article is out to insult those readers who are single mothers. It’s pointing out a basic tenet. No point in losing your temper and showing your ass.

  • CurlySue

    @TheTuth – That’s something I’ve always wondered. Is it a silent accepted fact that more black men cheat than other races (that excludes Latino men who many Latina women have told me are often unmitigated philanderers)?

  • Laniece B.

    GOD teaches about LOVE! Dust off your bible and read it. You can’t expect HUMANS to be perfect but if your parents did the BEST that they could, then that’s all you’re going to get. Don’t blame your parents for your failed relationships. Stop playing victim. Maybe you need to go to counseling and seek help for your problems. It’s beyond pathetic that people blame others for their problems. Maybe your relationships ended because you nagged, selfish, uncompromising, lied, cheated/got cheated on, etc. What do your parents have to do with that? Please have a SEAT, and ask GOD WHAT is LOVE, how to LOVE, etc. You know the song… “Have a Little Talk with Jesus”? Yes, you need to do that!

    What about the people that were raised in foster homes that went to college, started a career, got married, bought a house, and had children. They didn’t make an excuse for themselves. They knew what they wanted and they went after it. POINT. BLANK. PERIOD.

  • http://www.itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    There you go reading my mind again and regurgitating my thoughts!! It really is common sense and its embarrassing and slightly annoying when people try to argue otherwise.

  • Rastaman

    There was a time when stability was the norm. Women were considered property, fathers traded their daughters to be married to other men, married, had kids, stayed at home to wash cook and clean, stayed together until death do them part, literally. This was the standard order of things and anything but was seen as a scandalous taboo, however nowadays things are a bit more complex. Less people are getting married let alone staying married and as for waiting until after the wedding bells to live together and have kids, well let’s just say that more than a handful of us would’ve been the talk of the town.
    Why go back to that norm why not go back further to another norm. I won’t disagree that the unraveling of the nuclear family ideal does not contribute to more aggressive and or depressed children or even the feelings of instability. The one thing I was thankful for growing up is the fact that my parents provided a stable environment in my most formative years. But I also remember when things began to unravel as my mother was laid off from the company she had worked at for 20 years. The feelings of anxiety and instability touched everyone in our household. Maybe that would have been the time for my father to start thinking about marrying off my sisters to lessen the load after all they were both older than 14 he would have probably received enough in trade to make us not miss my mother’s income for another 2 years. As far as I know my sisters were still virtuous and they had domestic skills so they may have fetched a great price.
    I don’t aim to make light of author’s points about how the breakdown of families may be negatively impacting our children but I want to point out the flaw in attempting to view families as disconnected from so many other social factors. US social policy is not supportive of maintaining families, economic instability, poor access to healthcare, a dwindling social safety net and a growing population of overly stressed people due to these and a lot of other factors make for a bad mix. When the old African saying states it “takes a village” it is both literal and figurative in meaning. The whole society has to be focused on supporting families, committing economic resources to ensuring that parents are not feeling so challenged that having children and maintaining that familial unit competes with being happy. I don’t believe we are committed to that outcome. It’s a little difficult to point out people’s failings as parents when we as a society offer so little support.

  • Chrissy

    You know tisme….I dont think your advice is too far out the ball park. I think you have a point.

    All one has to do is look at the marriage and divorce statistics

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    tisme Chic Noir, I’d like to know your thoughts on people who got married first then had children and the father still walked away and now pretends the children never existed?

    I ask because I know many women who did things “the right way”,this includes both parents financially providing for their kids WITHOUT the help of the government, and the women still ended up taking care of children alone

    Oh I really really really hate this. It’s a very cruel thing to do to a children and a mother. It makes the children feel unwanted and feel that it is in some way their fault.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    @tisme-

    All that you said are the reasons why I fear getting married and having a child. I would hate to be stuck raising a child alone while my former husband ran the streets looking to destroy more women and children.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    TAE Truthfully I feel like “real” love is almost extinct.
    Word!

    I don’t know many blissfully happy couples except for my grandparents

    Well besides my parents, I don’t know many middle aged blissfully happy couples either. I think people in that age group were very selfish and they also experimented just a little bit too much with traditional family structure.

    I love when I’m out&about and you see those very old couples who’ve been married like 40 or 50 years holding hands.

    It’s very rate to see YB couples holding hands unless it’s a lesbian couple(no shade). Am I the only one that has noticed this? I see plenty of young lesbian couples looking happy but hardly any happy looking young straight couples.

    How in the hell did that happen? In what race do gays outnumber straights??? It means that we have real issues between the genders when we don’t know how to love one another anymore.

    *chic noir sighs*

    We are in our last days Yall.

  • H

    @Chic Noir – You had me LOLing with that hamburger comment, but finishing schools are definitely needed. I have talked about this with friends before. These girls need to learn what it means to be a lady. That is not anti-feminism at all. Encouraging women to go out into the workforce and be a lady is a good thing. I think the sexual liberation that came with feminism went too far with hookup culture and decreased women’s worth in men’s eyes. The girls basically throw themselves at any good looking guy for attention, so the guys constantly get sex.

    I will never understand why women think this hookup culture benefits them. It just makes it even easier for guys to get what they want from as many woman as possible with no commitment.

  • http://livefromthematrix.wordpress.com TAE

    @Chic Noir, OOooh girl, I’ve kind of picked up on that as well, happy same sex couples vs happy straight couples. This may be a little controversial but I’ve been working this over in my mind and based on what I’ve seen and experienced I think that there is a basic and deep misunderstanding between opposite genders that is ravaging our relationships with one another. For example I’ve had so many experiences with men, both dating and strangers, who just seemed so angry and/or perplexed and/or fearful of my womanhood that I have seriously entertained the thought that I might need to switch teams. I am an intelligent, independent, and ambitious woman. I’m also a gemini which is a masculine sign and it’s a well known fact we walk our own way. I’ve run across many men who have literally torn me down because of my disposition. I’ve heard everything from I need to spend some time with good muslim women, to I’m never going to have a man because I don’t know how to treat one. One man I was casually dating told me that he was actually afraid to talk to black women when he came back from Japan because talking to a black woman is like going up against an all white jury. I remember just sitting finding the fact that he even would say something like that, that he could feel like that, really, really sad, for the both of us.

    I assure you, on my momma, I know how to treat a man. Though I am independent, ambitious, all that I will cook for a man, rub his back, run his bath water, iron his drawers, take care of him, be his WOMAN, but it all dependent upon how he makes me feel as a woman, how he supports me, how he accepts me, ALL of me. I’ve met a lot of men who expect this type of treatment from me just because they are men, doesn’t matter if they are a good men or not, and when I won’t give out this type of “submissiveness” freely all hell breaks loose and I’m everything but a child of GOD.

    My femininity is complex, as is the femininity of all the women I know, the man who allows me to do me without being threatened by all that I am is the only type of man who has a chance in hell of locking this down. I’ve found that men want us to be simple, all they can handle or comprehend is simplicity. Cook, clean, sex him, repeat. Don’t have too many or too strong of an opinion, don’t be too ambitious or independent, don’t be too powerful. Be sweet and be meek. That’s the message I get and I’m sorry but I will never be that girl.

  • http://livefromthematrix.wordpress.com TAE

    Interesting point rastaman. I feel you. I don’t know how I would feel about my daddy marrying me off at 15,16,17 years old or if that would be a good practice for us to go back to,LOL, but I feel you though. It’s definitely food for thought.

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