Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Marrying for the kids

by shamanic

From the "End of Civilization as We Know It" file, Amanda takes a look at a Pew Poll showing, unsurprisingly, that adults no longer equate marriage and children the way they once did. And why should they?

I read a statistic in a history text, back when I was being formally educated, that in Colonial America, one-third of first-born babies were born within eight months of their parents' wedding. Films and literature are chock full of more modern renditions of a terrified young woman telling her young boyfriend that she's pregnant. If he's to live up to his duties and "be a man", he must marry her. (Even last year's "The Good Shepherd" featured this situation, and of course there's "Knocked Up".)

Is it any surprise then that marriage and children were inextricably tied until very recently? Today, with readily available supplies of condoms and female birth control methods, saturation messaging of "safer sex" in the media, and legal abortion, adults are now free to marry for love and delay, or even opt out entirely, of parenthood.

Most people see this as progress. Being able to delay children until a relationship is mature and the couple has a baseline of financial stability should generally be viewed as positive, but of course there are dissenters among the traditionalist crowd, which would ban contraception, abortion, and reinstate shame! as the fundamental tool in controlling adults' sexual impulses.

I don't think they're going to get this genie back into the bottle though, and that's progress too.

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