Tuesday, February 24

Moral Wrongs or Societal Ills

Unwed motherhood seems to be the bane of our nation because it combines the moral failing of premarital sex and supposed root cause of delinquent childhood. I say 'supposed cause of delinquent childhood' because I am unconvinced. Certainly there are plenty of statistics that point to the correlation between single parent homes and a failure to thrive in children.

These kids do poorly in school, they engage in risky behaviors and commit crime. I'm inclined to believe that this has less to do with the marital state of the mother are much more to do with the financial state of the mother (present and future). It is the financial state of the mother that determines what neighborhood they live in, what school they attend, what daycare center they use, how frequently they see a doctor, and what sorts of extra curricular activities they can participate in. That single mothers are more likely to be poor is not an argument against single motherhood per se, but an argument against a society where caregivers are undervalued and herded out of the workforce.

The idea that single mothers are more likely to be poor due to some connection between their fallen state and their wallet is wrongheaded at best. First not all single mothers (parents, really) are ones that engaged in extra-marital sex. Divorce, death, and rape are all reasons why the 'righteous' may find themselves raising a child on their own. These parents at not excused from poverty due to their righteousness. Also, there are several financially successful single parents, who got their children either through adoption, IVF, or good ol' fashioned premarital sex. These parents aren't poor despite the unrighteousness of their behavior- and these parents have children that are likely to thrive.

And so it is that I can believe that a moral wrong, in this case extra marital sex, is not necessarily a social ill, and does not need to be regulation for our benefit. Governments and responsible parties should be involved in determining the actual causes of social ills (poverty), correcting those causes (helping single parents obtain gainful employment), and abstaining from moralizing the issue.

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