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The family – the mummy, the daddy and the children living in the same house is no longer a common theme. Through choice, we have changed our ways of living.

We don’t need to get married to have children and we don’t need to stay in unproductive relationships. So why are we being told it’s a problem?

Reading an article in my daily newspaper, I was struck by this sentence.

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One can only assume the author has links to the organisation and is using his weekly column for some free PR. Sensible enough.

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Either the author took the comment from the Colin Consultation Report without realising it would be so insulting or he genuinely believes that unmarried mothers are a contributory factor in the Colin area’s social problems. If the latter is true, this is very worrying.

The Colin Consultation Report is compiled using statistics from the 2011 census. Twice, the document says 65% of the 476 children born in the Colin area that year were to unmarried mothers.

The report does not specify if these unmarried mothers were cohabiting or claiming single parent status due to financial reasons.

It is no secret that mothers are financially better off when they say they are raising children single handedly. On paper, the children are stigmatised but in real life they are benefiting from the love of two parents.

The negative wording in the offensive sentence would imply that the Colin area is over run with young unmarried mothers who do not care for their children.

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The report fails to mention the teenage pregnancy rate happened to be the lowest and babies born to women over the age of 30 was on the rise.

NISRA says this delay is due to a number of reasons which include participation in higher education, pursuit of a career, waiting to have a baby for financial reasons, etc. Why does the report not feature this positive information in its social demographics?

By 2013, 43% of births in Northern Ireland were to unmarried mothers. This was the highest figure ever recorded. 16% of these births were registered to cohabiting couples.

Are these births the result of a combination of the Fifty Shades stroke recession baby boom? Who knows and more importantly, who cares as long as these children are nourished and loved.

The 2011 census tells us that over 8,000 people get married and over 2,000 get divorced every year.

With the average cost of a wedding being £16,000, couples are aware that they can instead, put a deposit on a house with this amount of money – or buy a car – or both.

Seeing as it’s customary for an Irish wedding to be hijacked by the brides mother anyway, cohabiting couples are preferring to build their relationship with bricks and mortar.

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Some are of the opinion that a marriage is a piece of paper whereas their house is the roof above their head and a financial investment for their children.

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The Joseph Rowntree Foundation carried out a study of cohabiting couples who have split up, 66% of respondents still believed that living together is preferable to marriage in that it allows greater honesty and individual freedom. Formal ties were seen as a relic of a more religious past, or as an oppressive institution.

Just because women are having babies without being married to the father, does not mean they are any less able to be a good parent.

The only reason they are seen as ‘a problem’ is because unmarried mothers make informed choices. If they allow themselves to stay in dead relationships, they cause their children psychological harm and then there really will be a problem.

 

 

 

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