That wisdom had it that unmarried poor women got pregnant either because they were unable to get hold of birth control or ignorant of its use or because they viewed a welfare check as a substitute for an in-house father. Not so, find Ms. Edin and Ms. Kefalas: Young women, even those pregnant as young as 14, simply want to have babies . . . It’s not a fabulous career or sexual and romantic adventure that endows life with purpose; it’s having a baby.
According to the authors, motherhood promises an enduring human connection in a world where trusting relationships are rare, and it gives women a social role whose value is only heightened by their difficult circumstances. In the minds of female ghetto dwellers, “the choice to have a child despite the obstacles that lie ahead is a compelling demonstration of a young woman’s maturity and high moral stature.” Many say that the birth of their child persuaded them to give up drugs or to stop “running the streets.”
In one Detroit hospital, 87 percent of births are to unwed mothers, reports a Detroit News story on “baby mamas.”
According to the U.S. Census, 62 percent of adult whites are married, compared with 47 percent of adult blacks. In the 1960s, blacks had the highest marriage rate of any group in the country.
Today, the percentage of black children living in single parent households is 69 percent, compared with 25 percent for whites and 42 percent for Hispanics.
The story features The News features 20-year-old Rasheda Lathon-Bey, the unwed mother of a 7-year-old and 3-year-old.
“I always wanted to grow up and be married and have goals,” says Lathon-Bey of Clinton Township, “but you can’t just marry anyone.”
Lathon-Bey says the lifestyle of one child’s father was such that she knew the relationship would not lead to marriage; the other father, she says, “just didn’t work out.”
She will be married May 28 to a man who also has children from a previous relationship.
She had her first child when she was 13 years old?