The New York Times calls unwed motherhood “the new normal,” at least for women under 30. Over at the Georgia Family Council site, I disagree. The Times reporters attempt a Grey Lady version of evenhandedness, but following Rachel Sheffield, I don’t see how we can do anything but deprecate and deplore the trendlines in unwed motherhood. This is bad for children, and the Planned Parenthood bag of tricks shouldn’t be the only, or even the preferred, solution.
David Brooks suggests that part of the answer is what he calls “bourgeois paternalism.” It’s hard to disagree with him, at least on that level of generality. But “bourgeois” can’t mean what he seems to say it means here.
UPDATE: Katie Roiphe has a very negative reaction to the Times‘s “evenhandedness.
Conservatives will no doubt be elaborately hysterical over the breakdown of morals among the women of Lorain, but they will be missing the major point, which is that however one feels about it, the facts of American family life no longer match its prevailing fantasies. For those who have associated single motherhood with the poor and uneducated, and increasingly, with the urban very-educated (see the New York Times piece, the same day, on Casey Greenfield) they now have to confront the changing demographics of the vast American middle. No matter how one sees this development, and as a single mother myself I have my own views, one has to recognize that marriage is very rapidly becoming only one way to raise children. (And other countries are obviously way ahead of the United States in incorporating a rational recognition of the vicissitudes of love, and the varieties of family life, into cultural attitudes toward unmarried parents.)
No doubt some children raised in non-traditional settings–like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas–turn out just fine. But the evidence on the poorer life prospects of the children single parents is overwhelming.