G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Teen motherhood, single motherhood, unmarried cohabitation—these are not plagues or social ills that pose a threat to the otherwise normal structures of everyday life. They are our new social reality.
What the show doesn’t get to is that this is a good thing.
There is nothing wrong with teenage or single motherhood. The things children need: economic livelihood, emotional support and an education, are not dependent on a nuclear family structure. Poverty is poverty whether it’s endured by two people or four. A couple cannot raise a child better than one can. Once we get rid of the idea that marriage is the privileged form of cohabitation and that women cannot raise children without the help of a man—ideas that the Left has been working to eradicate for decades—there is no reason that a teen should not be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice to have a family. The potential diffusion of the family (as the New York Times recently reported, it doesn’t look like the trends will stop anytime soon) is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation. It means the end of what were just decades ago universal truths: every household must be headed by a breadwinning man; only when married will a woman have social value.
Anything is possible, right? Yes, if taxpayers devoted enough money to a giant pool that covered all children, some of the problems associated with child care gaps would disappear. But that’s a different argument than saying nuclear families and fathers aren’t important. All else being equal, they are.
Schwartz articulates two different classifications of children. Are they by-products of life or are they planned events? If they are merely by-products of sexual activity – and if anything that happens to a person in the course of their life should be shared by everyone else out of some sense of communal obligation, then everyone pitches in to pay for the care of children. this view has been gaining traction for decades. How convenient that the people making this argument are women who’d like to not be faced with duty and obligation. Women like Schwartz cite the patriarchy that wants to hold women down, but they never admit that just maybe they are embracing this rationalization because it is most beneficial to them.
The “children are not by-products” school of thought holds that children are best raised and provided for at the most localized level. The mother and father and whoever can be mustered up to help out. The more the merrier and the closer in genetic or emotional investment the better. If children are considered common property then they stand the chance of falling victim to the Tragedy of the Commons. If the people who created the kid aren’t responsible for financial support then what else will they rationalize away?
Salam points out that though arguments like this fetishize the Nordic model of a society of high non-marital childbirth rates and social support, couples typically cohabit. For example, 40.6% of U.S. births and 54.7% of Swedish births occur to unmarried women, 29.5% of U.S. households and 18.7% of Swedish households with children have only one parent.
Rod Dreher draws attention to a piece at The Atlantic by Karen Kornbluh who shows that more U.S. children live in single-parent households and that they are also among the poorest in the world. The takeaway seems to be: “look we somehow have this problem of single parent households and poor kids, what else is there to do besides throw government money at the problem?” What Dreher writes about Kornbluh could be applied to Schwartz’s piece above:
What’s so interesting, and frustrating, about this piece is that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to this writer that single parenthood is something to be avoided. It’s just one of those choices that people make, and public policy should accommodate it.
Want to tweak public policy to give single parents a break? Fine. But don’t tell yourselves that this is going to make a significant difference in the future of kids born into these circumstances, or left there because of divorce. There really are deleterious consequences to the welfare of children — including the adults these kids will grow up to be — from our sexually permissive culture. The cost of out-of-wedlock childbearing cannot be significantly ameliorated with public policy adjustments. Should it be?
Winter is coming.