The concept of early marriage is very vague, for example, the official language of jurisprudence considers a marriage concluded by young people before reaching a certain age established by law to be early. However, people are sure that the family created at the age of 18-20 is the earliest. And psychologists say that marriages are not tied to the age factor, because there is a certain category of people who, even at the age of 40, do not realize the consequences of their actions and are not ready to be responsible for them.
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The History of Child Marriages
Historically, early marriages are neither new nor rare, they have always existed. They were commonplace in many countries and religions since ancient times (Onagoruwa,Wodon, 2018). The age of the girl’s readiness for marriage was determined at best by the beginning of her maturation, that is, the arrival of the first menstruation (Onagoruwa,Wodon, 2018). So it was in ancient times, so it continued in the Middle Ages, and so it remains now, in the 21st century. Every year, about 15 million marriages are performed in the world, in which the bride has not yet reached the age of majority (Arthur, Earl, Raub, et al., 2018). A third of this number is made up of marriages with girls under the age of 15.
The Main Causes
The main reasons for early marriages are early pregnancy, poverty, and national customs. Unfortunately, many young girls do not know that motherhood at a very early age entails complications during pregnancy and childbirth and a much higher than the average probability of death during childbirth (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). Among the children of young mothers, there is a higher percentage of morbidity and mortality. Around the world, death during childbirth or pregnancy is the most common reason for girls from 15 to 19 years old to leave their lives (Raj, Jackson, Dunham, 2018). In general, early marriage and early motherhood can seriously limit women’s opportunities for education and work and have long-term negative consequences for their quality of life and their children’s lives. Too young a mother is not financially provided for, as a result, a huge number of problems appear (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). Moreover, a young girl is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and in chronic stress, and her child is with her.
Pressure from others – parents, friends, society-also pushes teenagers to marry early. Teachers note cases of a chain reaction of early marriages in schools. When one couple gets married, others have a desire to do the same (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). Moreover, the pressure may come from parents because they want their children to get a family as soon as possible for various reasons. Often teenagers imagine marriage in too rosy colors and create an idealized image of their family in their head (Raj, 2018). Family life seems to them like a kind of fairy tale, where a young man and a girl fall in love with each other, get married, and enjoy happiness until the end of their days (Raj, 2018). Even those teenagers whose parents are divorced or have created a new family tend to have the same illusions (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). The state of falling in love is considered so romantic and beautiful in our culture that many people hurry to experience it as soon as possible. The idea of marriage crowning love leads to the fact that young people begin to think that the meaning of life is to find their love and, as soon as it is found, get married as quickly as possible, before the feelings leave them.
The Situation in the Family
Sometimes marriage becomes a way of escape from an unfavorable situation at home, difficulties in studying. This step may be dictated by self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, or inability to establish good relationships with peers (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). The less attractive the current life situation seems, and the more attractive a possible marriage is, the more likely an emotionally unstable and socially unsuitable young person will strive to marry (Raj, 2018). Sometimes girls from low-income families try to escape from their situation and marry a wealthy man, turning a blind eye to the lack of love and age (Raj, 2018). Parents can also pressure and persuade their daughter since the family’s financial condition may depend on this marriage.
Childish Marriages and Fertility
Marriage and family factors significantly affect the birth rate: the age of marriage, the degree of coverage of the population with marriage relations, the possibility of divorce or remarriage, forms of marriage. All these parameters are diverse among different peoples, and therefore marriage and family factors acquire an ethnic aspect (Raj, 2018). For example, the age of marriage varies quite widely among different ethnic groups. Many countries have laws that set the minimum age of marriage: it varies from 12 years in Spain, Greece, a number of Latin American countries, and some US states to 18 years in most European countries (Onagoruwa,Wodon, 2018). The age of marriage quite strongly affects the birth rate. In early marriages, childbearing increases both due to the lengthening of the period during which childbearing is possible and due to greater fertility at young ages (Onagoruwa,Wodon, 2018). However, speaking about the influence of the marriageable age on the birth rate, it should be noted that this influence is significant among peoples who practice little intra-family planning of the number of children.
Psychological Problems of Early Marriages
The increase in the number of early marriages is explained by the fact that the understanding of the norms of sexual behavior and moral attitudes has changed in the world. The attitude to marriage has changed: when choosing a spouse, the soulfulness of the relationship is the basis. Unfortunately, the perfect ideas about a partner can be unrealistic, turning out to be exaggerated sexual fantasies (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). The problems of early marriages are caused by the unwillingness or inability of the spouses to adapt to the new living conditions, which are associated with the social crisis in modern Russia (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). The objective difficulties encountered in each family are supplemented by subjective ones inherent in a particular family, which is not always possible to overcome. Married couples are heterogeneous: marriage is created, as a rule, by representatives of different social strata, different nationalities, with other education, and with a large gap in intelligence (Raj, Jackson, Dunham, 2018). Hence, there are significant differences between the spouses in many important attitudes in living together.
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The Instability of Child Marriages
The reason for the instability of early marriages is unplanned marital relations. A fleeting infatuation, the desire for adulthood, marriage in connection with an accidental pregnancy force partners to rashly create a family (Raj, Jackson, Dunham, 2018). This leads to the fact that soon one of the spouses is dissatisfied. Children do not feel psychological support, affection, suffer from a lack of attention (Raj, 2018). Spouses conflict – this violates harmony in the family, destroys relationships. A young mother gets tired because of lack of sleep, and it seems to take on an unreasonable burden (Raj, 2018). Due to the age, a young woman wants to communicate with peers who are not burdened with a family. Financial difficulties aggravate the current situation. Recently, due to the crisis in the country, cases of violence against children have become more frequent, attempts to get rid of a child by any means: sell, throw out of the window (Raj, 2018). Psychologists believe that this is due more to moral and psychological health than to economic difficulties.
A more serious problem can be considered the early entry of young people into an intimate relationship. General education institutions, in the mass media; conducting preventive conversations in women’s clinics about what early sexual intercourse can improve sex education in the family (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). It is necessary to convince young people that before starting a family, it is essential to stand firmly on their feet: get an education that gives them the opportunity to get a high-paying job. This will allow you to create a strong family with reliable financial support; “unwanted” children will be born less often (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). Scientists who study the health status of such children have come to a conclusion that, as a rule, they are born weak, with mental health disorders, and in the future, their children will face the same fate as their parents (Raj, 2018). Therefore, a lot depends on the level of general education.
Problems in the family appear because its members cannot smoothly move from one stage to another or one stage is “imposed” on another (children from the first marriage, divorce, remarriage). Often a family lives in several steps at the same time: for example, where there is a small child and a teenager, there are problems characteristic of both one and another phase of family development, which contributes to the creation of additional difficulties in the implementation of parental and marital functions (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). Moreover, a girl can harm health while giving birth at an early age. The mental component of a person is also disturbed (Raj, 2010). Constant spending time at home isolates a young mother from friends and family, which makes the girl dependent on a husband (Lee-Rife, Malhotra, Warner, 2012). Consequently, excessively early marriages have a detrimental effect on the female psyche.
In conclusion, the main reasons of early marriages are excessive parental care, poor relationships between parents. This leads girls, and sometimes boys, to the desire to leave the parental family as soon as possible, hoping that they will be able to create a family that will be much better than the parent. Analyzing the problems of early motherhood and early marriage, we can conclude that many of these problems can be solved by a good level of sexual education in schools. In parental families, because the lack of their theoretical knowledge is the reason for the improper upbringing of children in the family: excessive guardianship, neglect, immoral behavior of parents which lead children to the desire to leave such a family as soon as possible.
Arthur, M., Earle, A., Raub, A., Vincent, I., Atabay, E., Latz, I.,… & Heymann, J. (2018). Child marriage laws around the world: Minimum marriage age, legal exceptions, and gender disparities. Journal of women, politics & policy, 39(1), 51-74.
Onagoruwa, A., & Wodon, Q. (2018). Measuring the impact of child marriage on total fertility: A study for fifteen countries. Journal of biosocial science, 50(5), 626-639. doi:10.1017/S0021932017000542
Lee‐Rife, S., Malhotra, A., Warner, A., & Glinski, A. M. (2012). What works to prevent child marriage: a review of the evidence. Studies in family planning, 43(4), 287-303.
Raj, A., Jackson, E., & Dunham, S. (2018). Girl child marriage: A persistent global women’s health and human rights violation. In Global Perspectives on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Across the Lifecourse. Springer, Cham.
Raj, A. (2010). When the mother is a child: the impact of child marriage on the health and human rights of girls. Archives of disease in childhood, 95(11), 931-935.