Millennials’ Marriage Problem

The other day, something came across my newsfeed about Kourtney Kardashian’s pregnancy style. I’ll hand it to her; she’s a stylish pregnant lady. And we know this for certain now, because this is her third pregnancy with boyfriend Scott Disick.

But that’s just it. Boyfriend.

It’s head scratching to me why a couple would have multiple children—all “planned”—but refuse to tie the knot. It seems to me, if you’re building a family together, why not make it official? Yet keeping it unofficial is becoming the new norm. As Brad Wilcox put it in a piece for the Wall Street Journal about the parallel mysteries of falling teen pregnancy rates but soaring single motherhood numbers for women in the next age bracket, “If 30 is the new 20, today’s unmarried 20-somethings are the new teen moms.”

Naomi Riley has an excellent piece on this phenomenon last month in the New York Post entitled, “Generation Screwed.” Millennials, my generation, have been given this nickname because we are getting slammed with record high tuition rates, a terrible job market, out of control entitlements, and so on. She writes:

So you’d think that if research shows there is something that could be a surefire way of improving their economic lot, they would grab hold of it like a life preserver. Well, you’d be wrong. In fact, research has shown marriage to be responsible for the significant creation of wealth — yet millennials don’t seem interested. The average age of a first marriage for men is 29 and for women it’s 27. Many are simply not marrying at all. Almost half of children born to women under 30 are out-of-wedlock births now, according to a recent study by Child Trends, a Washington-based research group.

It is mystifying. While it’s easy enough to see how a generation thoroughly steeped in relativism might shrug off the moral arguments for marriage, it’s plain bizarre the way millennials seem to be outright rejecting the evidence that marriage favors them and their progeny economically. She gives a litany of data that shows the way couples who marry start to quickly pass their unmarried peers when it comes to financial stability. This data only compliments all the data that paints a crystal with a capital “C” clear picture of how important marriage is in determining the outcomes of children.

My favorite stat? Marriage drops a child’s odds of falling into poverty by 82 percent. Wind and repeat. Eighty-two percent. Yet a recent Pew report suggests that a likely one in four millennials will never marry and that millennials are incredibly likely to say, “marriage is becoming obsolete” and rank “being a good parent” as a higher priority than “having a successful marriage.”

But what millennials just don’t seem to grasp is that being a good parent is having a successful marriage. It is absolutely the most important and determinant factor for children: whether or not their parents are married. But according to Pew, “Millennials are less likely than adults ages 30 and older to say that a child needs a home with both a father and mother to grow up happily and that single parenthood and unmarried couple parenthood are bad for society.”

Kourtney and Scott don’t need to worry about money, and most likely their kids won’t either. But we ordinary millennials can’t afford to follow in their tracks. We owe our generation and our children a future. As Naomi put it, “Looks like the Screwed Generation is raising the really screwed one.”

We may feel powerless against mounting national woes like ballooning student debt. But we are fools to leave our most powerful weapon, a social bazooka, if you will, just lying there in the dust. Marriage is ours to reclaim. What’s stopping us?

If it’s fear that things won’t work out, we can take courage in knowing we have an unprecedented amount of knowledge about what makes marriage work and what makes marriage fail. We can marry smart. Divorce rates are falling. We don’t have to make the mistakes our parents’ generation made. The only mistake we risk making is to write off marriage, or rather to devalue its power in bettering our lives emotionally and financially and to try in vain to untie it from the children we say we want to have.

Ashley McGuire is co-founder of altFem Magazine.

Photo credit: RamJet.

This piece was originally published on

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