Brad Wilcox, a report co-author and head of the National Marriage Project, says divorce rates have steadily dropped since their peak in 1979-80, while rates of out-of-wedlock childbearing have soared. Forty-one percent of all births are now to unwed mothers, many of them living with — but not married to — the child's father.
Wilcox notes that the iconic 1979 movie of the divorce revolution, Kramer vs. Kramer, is no longer emblematic of the drama facing families today.
"It'd be Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Johnson and Nelson," he says with a small laugh. "We're moving into a pattern where we're seeing more instability, more adults moving in and out of the household in this relationship carousel."
--From the NPR stroy "Study: Are Cohabiting Parents Bad For Kids?" by Jennifer Ludden
The NPR story about the new study was just fascinating to me. My wife and I both heard it this morning during our morning commute and were floored. 41% of all births to unwed mothers.
Now, I'm sure with statistics that high many people who for various reasons have made a conscious choice to enter relationships and have kids out of wedlock might have found this news story based on the University of Virginia study offensive, but I think as a cultural trend it's phenomenal.
Numbers like that certainly mean that there will be a social impact. This impacts schools, this impacts families, this impacts the relationship of our children will have with other children, and the relationship standards they will have in the future.
I'm not sure what the impact of popular culture might have on this topic, because it seems to me that pop culture has been already been weighing in with an opposite message - messages that say do what you want, what's satisfying, meaningful, you are your own person and you don't need conventional marriage to have a satisfying family, including children.
So, I will wait for the new movie that changes the tide, but I can tell you looking at this year's line up - it's not coming.