(FinalCall.com)–Today’s single parent has become the poster child of the Black family. Nearly 70 percent of our children are born out of wedlock. It has become the norm and the two parent family the exception. Our out-of-wedlock birth rate comes close to what it was in slavery when Black marriage was prohibited.
But, there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. A marriage movement is emerging in the Black community. Black Marriage Day was recently celebrated and more studies are showing the great benefits of marriage.
Sandra Hofferth, professor of family studies at the University of Maryland, found that when it comes to quality fathering, it is marriage, not biology, that separates the men from the boys. Her research also found that married stepfathers are equally good at fathering both their biological and the stepchildren who live with them.
These results were not duplicated with cohabiting (shacking) but unmarried male partners who are the biological fathers of the children in the household. These fathers, her research found, didn’t put in as much time or show as much warmth as married biological fathers.
These facts are noteworthy because in our community fathers are more likely to be single than married. When we do marry, it’s with children from our past. For a lot of Black men, marriage is the farthest thing from their mind and no one is telling them that they should.
“If we don’t tell them they need to get married, how will they know? We have to hold up the highest principle for these men, which is marriage,” said Rev. Rozario Slack, director of Fathering and Urban Initiatives for First Things First. “I’ve accomplished more in the last nine years because I have a wife expecting me to do something. If I was single and had children by different women, I’d have baby’s mama drama and I’d be staying the same.”
He went on to say, “We have to teach our boys and young men that they can tame their sexual desires. I am proud to say that I don’t have children out of wedlock. Not many of us can say that.”
Professor Hofferth’s study looked at two-parent blended (adults that have children prior to the marriage) families in which fathers are the biological father to some and stepfather to other children.
He found that children spend as much time with married stepfathers as with married biological fathers. He also found that cohabiting partners, even if they are biological fathers to a child, do not invest the same amount of time with children as married biological fathers, and they are less warm than married biological fathers.
So marriage makes men better fathers; and in the absence of marriage, men are not the best fathers they can be. What about for women? What does marriage do for them?
Marriage frees women from the burden of providing and parenting at the same time. It allows them to specialize in various areas of their own growth and development as wife, mother and/or career woman.
Marriage frees women to relax with their day-to-day responsibilities knowing that there is someone else to help them.
Many women say they don’t mind being single, that they would rather do badly by themselves. That’s more bravado than candor. Ask a single mother if she would rather have a happy successful marriage or be a single parent. Hands down, marriage wins.
Our marriages need help whether you are rich or poor, young or old. We’ll get the Lexus fixed but won’t get help for our marriage. We let it fester and die with thoughts of getting another.
But what about the children who suffer emotionally, financially and spiritually when a marriage fails or even fails to take place?
Our children deserve better, and we have to be responsible enough to give them better. Our children deserve the gift of a two-parent family.