Nowadays a lot of couples do not feel the necessity of getting married to have children. Young people being in love do not hurry to make their relationships official in order to create a family; modern society has a different look on the contemporary situation. Cohabitation and having children before the marriage is considered to be the usual situation of most modern couples. Nevertheless, there are certain contradictions in society as to the idea of having children without the official marriage certificate because of the parents’ obligations provided with marriage.
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There is a tendency to believe that marriage makes mutual relationships in the family stronger providing a certain level of security for the children. Sociology discloses a great majority of myths connected with the power of marriage given to children and their parents. For example, some people consider that having children always brings the members of the family closer making them happy. Nevertheless, more and more couples start having children before their marriage living for several years as a family, and only then decide to make their relationships official. Along with this fact, many social studies have shown that the first baby of the married parents results in pushing the parents apart and leading to the stress of the young family. The only fact to support this idea is the lower divorce rate of couples having children.
It should be stressed that having children before marriage has a lot of positive aspects. Firstly, a young couple is not afraid of the responsibilities of bringing a new life; it reduces the rate of abortion among people who are not ready for marriage for some reason. Statistics have shown that there are a lot of families who had their first child before the marriage getting the necessary experience in parenting and understanding the peculiarities of cohabitation beforehand. Thus, to create a family with children does not compulsory mean to get married at once at the period of pregnancy. Certainly, marriage plays an important role for every family but the time of its formation can be after the birth of the first child.
The tendency discussed above can be proved by official surveys. For example, about 37% of US children have been born outside of marriage. Besides the number of couples being unmarried and living together has increased in the USA for the last several years; it reached 4 000 000 by current period. Considering the fact that the rate of divorce has considerably raised throughout the world, the modern generation does not perceive marriage as something important for creating a real family; as the questionnaire has shown for many couples marriage is just a paper or a document of their family. The number of unmarried couples living together and having children has increased due to the following factors:
- The level of independent living has grown; the raise of financial stability among the population;
- The absence of religious prohibition for having children before the marriage;
- The increase of divorce rate; (Champlin, 2003)
These factors are considered to be the background of the modern situation. The desire of having children should not be an obstacle for unmarried couples. The meaning of “traditional family” for the modern generation substitutes the notion of one of the current lifestyles. The life of the child and parents’ attitude to it does not depend on the status of the family. There are plenty of couples living in the USA whose children have grown up and left their homes, though their parents are not married and even do not plan to do it; nevertheless, they live a happy life and managed to bring up their children.
So, the analysis of the current situation of marriage institutions has proved that couples do not perceive the official ceremony as the way to the happiness of their children and themselves. Despite this fact, there are some opposed opinions as to this position. For example, the modern church states that cohabitation and children outside of marriage cannot bring physical and emotional health to all members of the so-called family. It underlines some factors being the reason for cohabitation:
- The abortion legalization;
- The increase of culture mobility among the population;
- The level of graduate studies has grown a lot;
- Independent and fast pace of life observed in the USA.
It should be noted that some people start living with their significant others just for convenience; for example, the young couple can share the apartment or be linked through financial aspects. In such cases the birth of the child can lead to the breakage of relationships as the couple does not realize the seriousness of responsibilities taken with parenting. The birth of the child can push a couple apart with difficulties of having the child. (Popenoe, Top ten Marriage Myths).
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Some people believe that pregnancy is the principal reason for marriage. But do the relationships change after the ceremony?… Certainly, they do not. Conservative people tend to consider marriage as the key step for happiness and eternal life together till death. But it is a myth. Frankly speaking neither a wedding license nor children can strengthen the family. Only the couple covered by the atmosphere of love, harmony, and mutual understanding will be able to create a happy family even having children outside of marriage. People should remember that giving birth to a child is a serious and responsible step for every member of the family; to make this step means to think carefully about one’s future plans and decide whether the person is ready to devote himself to the child.
Unplanned pregnancy is a usual phenomenon nowadays, but it should be noted that it is not the reason for marriage or abortion. The emotional balance of the couples and their readiness to create a strong and loving family would be the main stimulator of having the child. The institution of marriage is just the official document for every couple and only its members can provide a safe and happy future for their children.
So, it is necessary to highlight the fact that having children outside of marriage is a normal phenomenon nowadays. Nobody but parents is responsible for the happiness of their children and well being of their mutual relationships; the awareness of responsibilities taken with the birth of the child would improve family life in the future. Certainly, there are some opposed opinions stating that marriages are the background of love and wealth in the family; in most cases, these are the main reasons for creating the family.
Contemporary society lives in a period of high independence, both emotional and financial. People do not strive to hurry to create families but to live for themselves and be prepared for serious steps in life. Having children outside the marriage is an important and responsible step, but it can be taken if the parents feel love and respect for each other.
- Popenoe, D. Top ten Marriage Myths. Love and Relationships Center.
- Champlin, J. Cohabitation Before Marriage. Catholic Update. 2003.