Unmarried Couples With Children
"'Well, we were planning on getting married, and planning to
save for a house, so Myron and I are very committed to each other, so
we just were--I don't know. If we were to get pregnant it wouldn't be
a big deal. Or it wouldn't be something unwanted or unplanned. And
if we didn't [get pregnant] it wasn't a big deal either.'"
Recall we just recently explored the urban legend of the
flamboyant Timothy McSeed exemplified deadbeat dad though an analysis
of Kathryn Edin and Timothy Nelson's Doing The Best I Can. Today we
look at a closely related book: Unmarried Couples With Children
(source of the above quote) edited by Paula England and Kathryn
Edin. In it researchers analyze data from the Time, Love, and Cash
among Couples with Children (TLC3) project to look at differing
aspects of this very complex life style. Since in 2004 one in every
three American babies was born to unwed parents (as opposed to a more
modest one in twenty in 1960) and since this is a more prevalent
trend for socioeconomically disadvantaged couples, the field, with
its implications for policy and social work practice, is a very
important one to study.
At the turn of the century the Fragile Families and Child
Wellbeing (Fragile Families) study was begun in seventy-five hospitals
in twenty large America cities. The subjects were 3,700 unmarried and
1,200 married couples who gave birth in a specified time. They were
interviewed at the birth of the child and when (s)he was one, three,
and five years old. TLC3 researchers worked with couples from three
of the cities who met two additional criteria: being romantically
involved at the birth of their child and earning less than $75,000 the
year before the study. They followed the family from shortly after
the child's birth until her/his fourth birthday.
Some of the really interesting topics exlored in Unmarried
Couples With children are:
*Edin et al's exploration of the planned, unplanned, or something
entirely else status of the baby. They discover a dimension that has
a big impact on the intentionality continuum;
*Paula England and Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer's inquiry into the two
most important issues couples disagree on. One you might expect to be
up there isn't;
*and Kathryn Linnenburg's study of father's parenting styles with
their live in kids. Don't go looking for Ward Cleaver.
Unmarried Couples With Children is a good sumner read for social
work students. However, I'd urge people outside the field to not let
the research paper format get in the way. The blend of narrative and
theory makes it emininantly readable.
On a personal note, last Thursday at UMaine I found a most wonderful
surprise--a karaoke party being put on by the multicultural student
center. We had pizza, chips, and soda. A lot of people volunteered
to or were cajoled into singing with a good variety of music.
Appreciation was loud, spontaneous, and enthusiastic. I sang You
Can't Hurry Love. Then near the end Patrick and I did Summer Lovin'
from Grease. Let the good times roll!
A great big shout out goes out to the multicultural center crowd, good
friends who really know how to live!
Sent from my iPod