Forty-one (41) percent of births in America now occur outside of marriage. –Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Single parenting goes hand-in-hand with poverty. The proportion of single-mother families in poverty increased for the fourth straight year last year to 41.5 percent, compared to 8.7 percent for married couples, according to the CDC. And sadly, children of single parents are not likely to emerge from intergenerational poverty begun by their parent.
So why are so many young people, especially at the low end of the socioeconomic ladder, having children out of wedlock? Here are some reasons I’ve heard.
- “I really wanted a baby because that was unconditional love and I had never really had anyone to love me. I wanted to love someone and be loved back.”
- “I didn’t have a viable partner and marriage seemed out of reach. But raising a child seemed the most meaningful way to live.”
- “Being a parent is positive and attainable.”
- “It was my desire, even under the worst of circumstances, to create family. Even when money is tight I crave the parent-child relationship.”
- “Babies represent hope. Babies give people a reason for a better life.”
The best predictor of whether a girl will get pregnant out of wedlock is her perceived ability of going to college, says sociologist and author, Kathy Edin, in her book, Promises I Can Keep, about low-income single moms. Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center, hosts a high school curriculum, infant and child care for young parents. Forty such students can be accommodated. They can and do graduate on time and, in many cases, apply for and receive Horizonte privately-funded college scholarships. At Horizonte they can have both!