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The Deacon's Bench

It turns out, more people are saying “No.”

A blog at the New York Times takes note:

One of the more surprising trends in marriage during the past 20 years is the fact that most couples no longer view children as essential to a happy relationship.

A few years ago, the Pew Research Center released a survey called “What Makes Marriage Work?” Not surprisingly, fidelity ranked at the top of the nine-item list — 93 percent of respondents said faithfulness was essential to a good marriage.

But what about children? As an ingredient to a happy marriage, kids were far from essential, ranking eighth behind good sex, sharing chores, adequate income and a nice house, among other things. Only 41 percent of respondents said children were important to a happy marriage, down from 65 percent in 1990. The only thing less important to a happy marriage than children, the survey found, was whether a couple agreed on politics.

So why do kids rank so low on the list? The fact is, marriages today are increasingly adult-centered, rather than child-centered, an issue identified in a sweeping 2008 report from Rutgers marriage researcher Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. In the report, called “Life Without Children: The Social Retreat From Children and How It’s Changing America,” Dr. Whitehead notes that the percentage of our lives that we devote to parenting is shrinking. Because married couples are delaying children and having fewer kids, they start parenting later and finish parenting sooner than couples of earlier generations. She writes:

For most of the nation’s history, Americans expected to devote much of their adult lives to the nurture and rearing of children. Life with children has been central to norms of adulthood, marriage and the experience of family life. Today however, this historic pattern is changing. Life without children is becoming the more common social experience for a growing percentage of the adult population.

Check out much more at the link.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed.
 

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