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.

33 Comments

  1. 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.

    • 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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