Unmarried with Children

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  • So, a new study has come out that says more unwed parents are living together. According to the stats from the National Marriage Project, unwed couples who have had children together have increased 12-fold since 1970.

    If you’re happily (or unhappily) married with kids, it might be hard to understand why or how two people with children would decide to live together and not marry.

    Not to discount the research that proves kids with two married parents are more likely to have a stable home than those unmarried with children, but what the study doesn’t address is why this is happening more frequently – and now that it’s happening, how parents can avoid some of the common pitfalls that await their precious babies.

    Some of those problems include unemployment, lower college attendance and more instances of abuse.

    Pardon me while I call B.S.

    Don’t get me wrong; there are some difficulties directly related to parents being unmarried. But that in itself can’t be the problem. I think studies like these lead to a lot of opportunities for people to fixate on a flawed theory. Instead of the discussion being about how to make all families healthier and more viable, there will be a barrage of commentaries, sermons and blogs celebrating the virtues of marriage.

    As a single mom, who is educated, employed and good friends with my ex, I can point to a lot of reasons why sharing a home with the father of my boys could work in our favor.

    1. Two incomes are better than one.

    2. It would cut down on childcare concerns.

    3. There would be someone to answer all those questions that I can’t about the parts they have in common.

    4. They’d always have fresh haircuts.

    5. He’s their dad.

    Of course, I probably could come up with a few reasons I wouldn’t want to share a home with him, which is why we’re no longer married.

    The point is this: Whether my ex and I raised our boys together without ever marrying or decided to move back in together after divorcing, I wouldn’t want to be lumped into the category of families doomed for failure. It isn’t the ideal situation, but I think it’s at least a shot at keeping the family unit together.

    How about this? If you know a family that is suffering, no matter that family looks like – two married parents, two single, one single, a grandparent heading the household, whatever – how about helping them find the resources they need to get better?

    Times are tough, and sometimes, in spite of our moral take on situations, we need to recognize that people have to do what they have to do. We do a lot of talking about the importance of the village, as opposed to actually building the bridges that bring us closer to those in need.

    I promise you that at your kids’ school, your church or on your block, there’s at least one family that’s on the verge of being evicted, in need of a week’s groceries, in a health crisis or is being victimized by a sexual or physical abuser. Even though we have more methods of communication than ever before, we are growing farther apart and less connected than ever with our neighbors. If we want to help, we have to find new ways to touch lives and teach by example that there’s something better out there.

    We can do it by becoming team moms, mentors, volunteers in the church nursery, anything that takes us out of ourselves, even if it’s just one day a week. We don’t need studies. We need healing hearts and minds that lead to practical solutions to life’s complicated issues.

    If you’ve committed to doing one small thing to make someone else’s life better, I want to hear about it.

    Speaking of which, when you get a moment, check out the following:

    - Mamas Gone Wild, Episode One, where we explore having “the sex talk” with your kids, as well as get some fashion tips on a budget.

    - Mamas Gone Wild, Episode Two, which tackles creating a village, getting those glutes right and teaching your kids good manners.

    - Mamas Gone Wild, Episode Three, where Mamas Gone Wild Mary and I ask the question if girls run the world, who’s showing them how? Plus, we keep it hot with tips on relationships and teaching kids to save.

    Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.

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