Millennials: Saving Marriage for Last

A recent Pew Research study indicates that young Americans value parenthood over marriage. Here's why I agree with them.


There it lay in front of me, a strapless, satin, ivory gown embellished with floral embroidery, complete with a chapel train and my aunt's promising smile. "We're saving this for when it's your turn," she said.

It was the perfect equation for her. My mother and father never tied the knot, and my aunt didn't have any daughters to pass her wedding dress down to. Little did she know that marriage is the last thing on my 21-year-old mind. It took every fiber in my body not to rain on her bridal parade with a "No thanks."

Don't get me wrong. Her dress was to die for, but taking that walk down the aisle isn't a necessity for me, and a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that many Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 agree with me.

In fact, just 30 percent of survey respondents in the Millennial generation agree that one of the most important things in life is "having a successful marriage," while 52 percent put "being a good parent" in that category.

I'm sure that every girl has dreams about finding her Prince Charming, walking down the aisle, exchanging vows in front of family and friends and living happily ever after. But when we're faced with the realities of relationships in our society, those dreams often get lost along the way, and priorities relating to marriage and parenthood began to shift.

Family Structure in Flux

With the ever changing landscape of family structures in America, the tradition of getting married first and then having children has become old-fashioned to a growing number of young people. Single parenthood by choice is on the rise, and the trend toward having children out of wedlock has been growing for some time now -- and in some quarters has been accepted as the norm.

Seventy-two percent of black children are now born outside of marriage, while only 29 percent of white children are born to unwed parents. Sixty-seven percent of African-American households are headed by single parents, compared with 24 percent of white households.

With these developments, it's little surprise that Millennials value parenthood far more than marriage as a life goal. Certainly, living in the same household with unwed parents has shaped my perception of tying the knot. My mother and father didn't need a huge ceremony or a certificate to define their relationship. My brother's birth and my own were testimonies to their love.

Every now and then, a family member would come at them with, "The Bible says having children out of wedlock is a sin," but they never let it faze them. Doing a good job of raising my younger brother and me was their priority.