When daddy won’t say “I do”
Does having married parents give a child a greater chance at having a more secure, balanced childhood?
I’m always surprised when I see unmarried couples who live together for years and start a family but choose not to wed. In countries such as the USA cohabiting couples are starting to outnumber married couples.

A cohabiting couple may live like a married couple, sharing everything - home, financial resources, lifestyle and childcare. Because their relationship is like a marriage, some couples see no need to formalise the relationship.

However in the cases that I’m aware of it’s usually the man who will not be eager to tie the knot with the mother of his children. Some men may view marriage with suspicion, reasoning that if they marry and then divorce, the courts will not deal fairly with them.

I have a close family member, a father, who has confided that he’ll never marry because he has seen bad examples of marriages in families.

To keep the peace  an unmarried mother will wait patiently for the big day to arrive when her dear partner will go down on his knees and say “Will you marry me?” Unfortunately she may have to wait a long, long time, but that does not necessarily stop her from having as many kids as she wants.

One question springs to mind when I see parents in such a situation. Do children, whose parents are co-habiting have the same quality of life as that of child living under a marriage arrangement?

Kids with married parents are better off

Before I’d done any research on the topic I was of the opinion that both would have a similar quality of life. I was surprised when information available proved otherwise.

The National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and family in the United States recently stated “…family instability is on the rise for American children as a whole. " This seems in part to be because more couples are having children in cohabiting unions, which are very unstable. This report also indicates that children in cohabiting households are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems – drug use, depression and dropping out of high school – compared to children in intact, married families."’

After reading this, I realised how getting married the old fashioned way is a sure way of raising happy children. So to all you baby papas out there who are scared of walking the baby mama down the aisle, now you have a clear motivation to finally do it. Stop postponing that wedding date. Stop giving excuses. Put a ring on Baby Mama’s finger and say “I do” loudly, and you’ll be giving your kids one of the most precious gifts you can give them — a stable family life.

Does having married parents give a child a greater chance at having a more secure, balanced childhood?

Read more by Sipho Yanano

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