Saturday, September 20, 2014

Parenthood without Marriage

MARRIAGE is disappearing. More than 40 percent of new mothers are unmarried. Many young adults drift into parenthood unintentionally. They may be cohabiting at the time of their child’s birth, but about half of these couples will have split up by the time their child is 5 years old. College-educated young adults are still marrying before having children and planning their families more intentionally. The rest of America, about two-thirds of the population, is not.We’ve been worrying about these trends for years, and wondering: Can marriage be restored as the standard way to raise children? As much as we might welcome a revival, I doubt that it will happen. The genie is out of the bottle. What we need instead is a new ethic of responsible parenthood.
Is the genie really out of the bottle?  Is marriage over?

For Christians, Marriage is Holy.  “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 422)  For Christians, parenthood and marriage go hand in hand, but we should always be aware that our ideal does not always take place.

In her opinion piece, Beyond Marriage by ISABEL V. SAWHILL, has written an article about the need for us as a citizenry to look at ways to help promote the general welfare, in light of less marriages taking place and the need for responsible parenthood.

An except:

Not only are 40 percent of all children born outside marriage (50 percent among mothers under 30), but 60 percent of these births were unplanned. New parents often come to accept and love the baby, but it is not an auspicious beginning. Research I did with Quentin Karpilow and Joanna Venator at the Brookings Institution shows that unplanned births affect children’s development, including their chances of graduating from college and earning a middle-class income...

It is in this context that any efforts, like the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby to curtail access to the most effective forms of birth control, are misguided. If we could make the most effective forms of birth control available to all women with no co-payment, we would not only have healthier children and lower child poverty rates, we would limit the extent of government assistance people need in the process...

But greater access to the most effective forms of contraception is not enough. We also need a new ethic of responsible parenthood. That means not having a child before you and your partner really want one and have thought about how you will care for that child. Those from less privileged backgrounds may worry that they will never be able to afford a child. But two full-time $10-an-hour jobs bring in roughly $40,000 a year, hardly a princely sum yet enough to support a family well above the poverty line, even after child care and other expenses. These families should be receiving child-care subsidies and other forms of help.
Prayers on family from the BCP:

O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives Christ himself: We give thanks for the blessing you have bestowed upon this family in giving them a child.  Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those  who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among  us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love  whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance
for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you,  and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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