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40% of Babies Born Are Love Children

According to the CDC, 40% of all babies born in the US are born to unwed parents. Sounds kinda scandalous: “unwed”,”single moms”,”love children.”

But according to an NPR story on the topic– and given the vast numbers–we’re talking about mainstream America.

Some parents marry after their kids arrive, others never do.Or at least never plan to. One of the young parents interviewed by NPR refers to marriage as “just a piece of paper.”

Another couple profiled married only for the insurance benefits, illustrating that that piece of paper sometimes isn’t quite so meaningless. In fact, if it weren’t for some of the incentives like spousal health insurance, who knows how many of us would (not) be getting hitched.

As the NPR story points out,  these parents are children of the ’80s, a time when divorce hit new heights: “They’d rather raise kids alone than put them through a broken marriage.” Isn’t it the break up of the relationship that hurts? Not the breakup of the legal bond?

Regardless, if 40% of today’s babies are being born to parents who have not, for whatever reason, tied the knot, maybe we need to rethink our current terminology. Here’s Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing for Salon, on the outdated use of “love child” :

“Sure, as far as words describing the offspring of an unmarried man and woman go,  “love child” (which dates back to the 19th century) has a kinder ring than “bastard.” But it also bears the stale scent of bohemian antiquity. It’s a phrase that at best conjures up the product of Greenwich Village free thinkers and cheap Chianti, and at worst an individual forced to grow up, per the Supremes, “afraid, ashamed, misunderstood…”

We could, as she suggests, start calling children of the unwed just plan old children. Or maybe every child can be a “love child”?

Photo: Dennis Hill/Flickr

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