What Happens When Mom and Dad Aren’t Married?

what-happens-when-mom-and-dad-arent-marriedThe overall structure of families is changing, and more and more children are living with unmarried, cohabitating parents. The affect of single parenthood on children is widely discussed; but you’re not single, you’re just not married. Are you concerned about how your relationship is affecting your child? In this article, we will look at the statistics, challenges, and ways to make it work as unmarried parents.

The Facts and Challenges
Many parents put off being married because of financial or other factors. While studies in the past focused mostly on the statistical affect of single parents on their children, as the dynamic of the family has changed, so have the facts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children born to unmarried women cohabitating with a male partner jumped to 22% in 2010, up from just 12% in 2002. While most children who live with unmarried parents will spend a considerable portion of their formative years with both biological parents residing in the household, by age 12, two-thirds of these same children will see their parents separate, according to an article by the Atlantic Black Star.

According to David Popenoe, PhD, professor of sociology at Rutgers University, parents who are unmarried are 50% more likely to break up, and have much higher rates 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
While these statistics may seem like children of unmarried parents are cursed with poor future, they do not have to be a reality for your family. It is entirely possible to make an unmarried partnership work.

The first thing you should do is ensure that all of the legal paperwork is handled correctly. Put both parents’ names on the birth certificate; and write a last will and testament, spelling out your final wishes concerning your children and your assets. Make sure you each have a power of attorney document, giving each partner the rights to make medical decisions and other legal choices; and if necessary, add each other to life insurance policies and bank accounts.

There is no one right answer on how to make a cohabitating relationship work, but there is hope. As W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project says, “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.”

What do you think?

What Happens When Mom and Dad Aren’t Married?

Tell us what you think!

28 comments

  1. Profile photo of Marissa Marissa says:

    I agree with Stephanie.My boyfriend stepped up to the plate when he found out he was going to be a daddy. We were just close friends prior to the pregnancy. We have discussed marriage and are in no rush. He has brought up the topic more than I have, but I’m just not ready. I love him very much. But a piece of paper stating we are married does not bind us; love and trust do. I don’t mean to ramble on but my daughters EX pediatrician chewed me out for not being married. His words “what makes you think he will commit to her if he can’t commit to you”, “why did she take his last name if you guys are not married”, & proof that he will commit to her is he was more excited to find out I was pregnant than I was. And she took his last name because he is her father and maybe someday we will get married and all share the same last name, but marriage is not in my upcoming future, I don’t find it necessary. I love my daughter and so does he, & we both love and respect eachother.

  2. Profile photo of Ashlee Ashlee says:

    This article is very true. I am in this situation. My parents do not live with each other and aren’t married. Parents who are in this situation and think that being married doesn’t matter. It does. It can hurt the kid. They will constantly get asked by people at school why their parents aren’t married. Then the child will wonder if the parents love each other. I don’t know if my parents love each other or not and every time I ask mum doesn’t give me a real answer it hurts me a lot. Don’t put your child through what I have to go through

  3. Profile photo of Ashleigh Ashleigh says:

    My fiancé and I have talked about it, but a piece of paper telling one another that we love each other and will be loyal and faithful just doesn’t make sense to us.

  4. Profile photo of Stephanie Stephanie says:

    Sometimes people don’t want the burden of marriage but live and act like they are and this kids are just fine

  5. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    I feel that this can sometimes cause stress and unwanted anxiety in a relationship. You feel the need to get married and make the relationship work since you are now expecting. I am personally not married to my boyfriend, but we have been talking about it since I want our baby to have his last name. I just have so much to think on. Everyone wants to do the best thing for their baby, but at times I find myself questioning the right thing.

  6. Profile photo of Eva Eva says:

    I believe that just because you are not married doesn’t mean you are any less of a mother or father to the child. I commend those mothers and fathers who chose not to get married just because of a pregnancy!!

  7. Profile photo of LIZ says:

    very helpful aticle tnx

  8. Profile photo of Cait Cait says:

    Happy to say we are none of these statistics. I became pregnant as a teen and refused to marry until we were absolutely ready. Our daughter was born in 2008 when I was 18 and we were married in 2013 when I was 24. My husband owns his own business and I am going back to school to finish my bachelors. We are hoping to add to our family this year. I can see why most of the things in this article are true and most of my friends who became pregnant are in these situations. I constantly say how lucky I am because my situation could have been not so picture perfect.

  9. Profile photo of Paula Paula says:

    I agree with some of you that being married is just a paper. It is more a traditional thing than anything. Now a days though everything has changed.

  10. My sons father and I aren’t married but we make it work

  11. Profile photo of Darlynn Darlynn says:

    Something will happen in between your relationship, who’s knows?? To have an healthy parenthood,the only best tool in any relationship is communicating..And yes the another thing to make an healthy parenthood to your childrens is to starts with God first of all.

  12. We are not married yet, We have been planning on doing it for two years and we are about to have our second child together. Sometimes our relationship is questionable and rocky and I really don’t see what difference being married will make. If we break up, we break up…. And for cheaper I might add. (ouch)

  13. different people, different views. people do whats best for them and what they think is comfortable

  14. Profile photo of kimbro09 kimbro09 says:

    Personally I don’t care what this article says. I been with my fiancé for over five years now four of those years we lived together,. We own a house, have great jobs and now we get to experience having a baby together. Did I mention that we are only 22 years old. Honestly marriage is not a top priority for us because it a piece of paper that makes us one and I like the fact that everything is separate. Yes we plan on one day get married but not today or this year even. Plus the benefits of not being married in this day of age outweighs the benefits of being married,

    • I am just curious, What are the benefits of both? I know there are more educational offerings for a single woman and state benefits but what else? I am always asking this and nobody seems to know.

  15. Profile photo of EbyMom EbyMom says:

    All that happens depends on maturity and commitment. Yes it is good to be married in other to raise a family what if the people getting married are not matured or committed enough to face their problems believe me trials and problems will arise plus difficulties.in fact it is vice versa. Whether married or just living together know that God has placed treasures in our hands to protect. Then for those waiting to throw a very big wedding knowing that you are not financially stabilise why don’t you go to the church and be united in the presence of God.

  16. Profile photo of Jblair12 Jblair12 says:

    While I have my agreements and disagreements with this article, what’s alarming to me is the overwhelmingly negative response and the struggle to defend unmarried couples who parent. While this article along with any other article shows the authors opinion in the matter, a lot of it was simply stating statistical facts based on sociological research. Bottom line, if people didn’t really think that being unmarried and parenting came with it’s own challenges then they wouldn’t be so upset behind an article that’s supposedly “false.”

  17. Profile photo of KaelinRae KaelinRae says:

    Why does this article make it seem like not being married is the worse thing ever. My fiance and I have been together for 4 years and we planning on getting married this summer. Then we found out I was pregnant so we’ve had to put it off until after the baby is born. This way I am still on my dad’s insurance when I have the baby and it will help with the cost of delivery.

  18. Profile photo of JessiLoveday JessiLoveday says:

    Is it fair to say, that after reading most of this woman’s articles, that I honestly hate her and all she stands for? She needs to lay off the unmarried couples and unmarried parents. Unless, of course, she wants to pay for my wedding.

  19. Profile photo of KEIYONDA KEIYONDA says:

    TIMES ARE NOT WHAT THEY USE TO BE. PARENTS HAVE BEEN MAKING THIS WORK FOR YEARS. MARRIAGE DOES NOT OFFER THE STABILITY IT ONCE DID SO AS LONG AS THE PARENTS ARE COMMITTED TO BE PARENTS COMMITMENT TO MARRIAGE IS NOT NECESSARILY NECESSARY.

  20. Profile photo of Marilyn Marilyn says:

    People don’t have to be married to have a baby. People who only marry just because they’re pregnant and don’t want to have a child out of wedlock, are ridiculous and should marry for good reasons instead.

  21. Profile photo of Anastacia113 Anastacia113 says:

    We are not married but only because I am not ready and dont want to ruin how well we work together right now, He says when I am ready we will get married but I know that we will spend the rest of our lives together with or without it being legalized, he is on my children’s birth certificates and my last will and testament too.

  22. Profile photo of Aimee Aimee says:

    I agree with this article only because how the way society is today.

  23. Marriage or Not the potential to "break-up" via a divorce or just speration is still there.

  24. Profile photo of Nicolelott Nicolelott says:

    I agree for most part however it can go both ways negative and positive in end results. Personal experience is knowing a friend who’s parents got along much better after being divorced while they had been married for years bc of this friend and her sister however were not happy together anymore.
    A positive result would be you have been with your partner for years married or not and both of you have wanted to get married the feeling is mutual.
    I was raised in a home where I was taught the sanctity of marriage and agree to the day yet as I said I have also seen unhappy marriages which both partners are staying together and unhappy that is not healthy for a child either. If that is the case I believe the two adults can come to a mutual agreement far as being in that childs life.

  25. Profile photo of Grace Grace says:

    i agree why not get married, if you love each other- what is holding you back

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