Single moms and PTA dads

This weekend’s New York Times featured two stories that caught my eye: that the majority of women who give birth under the age of 30 are unmarried, and that PTAs across the country are seeing an influx of dads.

These developments, plus the raging debate over whether Catholic institutions are obligated to provide their employees with health care that includes birth control, are all part of how our culture is renegotiating changing ideas of gender and family.

According to the New York Times, that renegotiation has a lot to do with economics.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said. Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.


“Explanations for marital decline start with home economics: men are worth less than they used to be.”

What do you think? Are you a single parent, and do you see an increasing number of single parents where you live? Are changing rates of marriage different among different sorts of communities? What does it mean if dads are staying home and joining the PTA? Weigh in, North Country. And as always, keep it respectful.

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23 Comments on “Single moms and PTA dads”

  1. You can thank the theocrats. They talk about the importance of two-parent families while simultaneously doing all they can to restrict the number of two-parent families.

  2. Peter Hahn says:

    But the parents frequently live together as man and wife – they just dont get married. The partnerships dont last as long as they used to though (it seems to me) even when they do get married. Lots of families with children from different dads. In Europe marriage is rare also. I have thought that the stronger safety net marriage less attractive, but maybe its the lower monetary value of men relative to women that is what does it.

    Its good to hear that the dads are getting involved in PTA.

  3. oa says:

    You don’t even have to look to Europe, Peter. Just look a few miles north, to Quebec, where most marriage is common law marriage. They’re just not bothering with it.

  4. It’d be wrong to attribute it solely to the increased social safety net. A more important factor is the entry en masse of women into the work place. With that, women ceased to be entirely dependent on men for income and thus could be human beings in their own right.

  5. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    Can any of this be percieved as our becoming more progressive as a civilization? I hesitate to use the phrase evolving, but is that what we are doing? You don’t need to be married to have children. As time goes on, I wonder when we will finally dispose of the idea of the “necessity” of marriage. I think we may be on our way.

  6. Heh I like that my comment about women not being dependent on men and being able to be independent human beings in their own right got a thumbs down. Quite telling…

  7. Peter Hahn says:

    Another factor – it is no longer socially unacceptable to have a child out of (legal) wedlock, and a wedding ceremony/reception costs upwards of 20K. You can have a civil ceremony for virtually free, but why bother?

  8. Bob Falesch says:

    “…men are worth less than they used to be.”


    (still giggling).

  9. oa says:

    Brian, also telling that people who are merely bringing facts to the table, Peter on Europe, me on Quebec, are downrated.
    I never said it was a good thing that marriage in Quebec declined. But I guess it was bad that it was said it at all.

  10. Pete Klein says:

    I don’t know. If I were a woman looking at the guys in just about any of the commercials on TV, I wouldn’t want to get married and I doubt I would want to have children with any of them.
    And don’t get me wrong, I’m not against marriage. I have been married since 1968. But having that piece of paper is not the reason I got married in the first place or continue to be married in the second place.
    Always, today, yesterday and always, some men and yes, women too, think having a child makes them a man or a woman. It takes a lot more than just the ability to procreate to make a man or a woman. It takes hard work, responsibility and commitment to be a parent.

  11. Walker says:

    “also telling that people who are merely bringing facts to the table, Peter on Europe, me on Quebec, are downrated.”

    People who are given to watch a certain “news” network are unused to facts, and find them disturbing.

  12. Mervel says:

    Co-habitating relationships last even less time than our marriages do.

    Its depressing to me, it is as if we are simply giving up on love and commitment and those two things go hand in hand. It is not progressive to say that we live in a society that can no longer love each other.

  13. oa says:

    I hope your phrasing doesn’t mean you’re hanging this on progressives, Mervel.

  14. oa: what are you talking about? Your comment on Quebec was downrated once (not by me, incidentally). One person doesn’t like it. Don’t worry about it.

  15. oa says:

    Brian, I think you took that wrong. I’m agreeing with you on bizarre downratings. I should have started by saying, “To your point, Brian…” Apologies. I didn’t think you did it. And no, I don’t care that much personally, though I find it really weird and a little disturbing that people downrate comments that have no opinion, only facts.

  16. Mervel says:

    oa its not political, it is not something caused by political stances or laws, I do think it is cultural but I don’t think it has anything to do with being liberal or conservative.

    I just think we need to find a way to think and wrestle with love and commitment and the importance of love and family stability for children.

  17. Mervel says:

    Red states do lead the nation in divorce. I have done some work and research surrounding divorce. One of the primary statistical determinants of divorce is age of marriage.

  18. Walker says:

    “I just think we need to find a way to think and wrestle with love and commitment and the importance of love and family stability for children.”

    Sure, fine. But we certainly do not need the government to do this for us, do we? I should think that freedom loving, government-despising Conservatives would be the first to say so.

  19. Walker says:

    Sorry, Mervel, on re-reading it strikes me that it sounds like I’m accusing you of wanting the government to do something about it. I didn’t mean that. But there do appear to be conservatives out there who, although preaching government-off-our-backs are ready to, for example, outlaw contraceptives apparently with the idea that this would foster personal responsibility. Grrrr!

  20. Mervel says:

    There is a minority of Catholics, Santorum being one of them that think that contraceptives are a current political issue, they are not; that boat has sailed and gone. Most conservatives don’t even know why the heck anyone cares about contraceptives one way or the other. I mean I get it because I know some very conservative Catholics, but even very conservative protestants don’t get the whole problem.

    So anyway it has nothing to do with the modern western problem with love, commitment and healthy lifelong marriage. Like I said its not a political issue.

  21. Pete Klein says:

    Often regarded as a liberal, which I sometimes am, the problem I see is almost everyone knowing what their freedoms are or what they think they are but having a tendency to forget that freedom has a flip side. It is called “responsibility.”

  22. Walker says:

    Pete, conservatives preach “responsibility” endlessly. Trouble is, you can’t legislate responsibility.

    Take birth control and abortion. Many conservatives are against largely because they think that those whose actions resulted in a pregnancy should have to deal with the consequences. But it is the unwanted child that generally suffers the consequences when the parents fail in their responsibilities. And the shredded safety net just makes the child’s suffering worse.

  23. Mervel says:

    I think something both conservatives and liberals don’t want to admit is that the really important issues that face us have nothing to do with politics or government at all, conservative, liberal, legislation, politics, programs, taxes, “initiatives” in general, its all meaningless it can’t really solve our most important questions.

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