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 are a lot of successful, independent individuals in society today, and it makes the younger generation question if they really need to get married to obtain a sense of fulfillment," said Chenault. Even though facts show that poverty rates are higher for families headed by single women, the visible success stories and the various examples of strong single individuals are a testament to the fact that it can be done on your own -- and this makes an impact on Millennials. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials taking the Pew survey believe that it makes no difference whether you are single or married when it comes to finding happiness.
The media have played a key role in exposing today's generation to alternative family structures, with reality television leading the charge. Single mothers on reality-TV shows, like Kandi Burruss of Real Housewives of Atlanta and Shaunie O'Neal of Basketball Wives, are prime examples of strong, single and successful mothers. Their experiences show that marriage isn't necessary to attain happiness, be successful or raise good children.
That last part is especially important to young adults like me. Whether they're single because they never tied the knot or as a result of divorce, these women have one thing in common: They're capable of raising their children on their own. They don't need a ring on their finger to be good mothers.
Television shows like VH1's Single Ladies glamorize the unmarried life. They show women that wedlock doesn't define who you are and that you can be independent and fabulous. "Seeing examples of alternative lifestyles in the media has opened our generations' eyes to the fact that marriage doesn't always equate to happiness," said Peters. "They've shown us that you can be a good parent and you can achieve your goals without necessarily being married."
Only time will tell if I will take that walk down the aisle, stand in front of my family and friends in my aunt's wedding gown and exchange vows with my soul mate. But if that day never comes, I won't be bothered.
Whatever the future holds for me, whether I'm a co-parent or I'm doing it on my own, I know that when it comes to parenting, I will use the morals that my parents gave me. I don't need a ring, a huge ceremony or a marriage certificate to define who I am. I'll let the way I raise my child speak to that.
As a generation, we've learned that there are more important aspects to life than marital status. Becoming good parents and being able to instill the right values in the next generation are at the top of our list.
Brandee Sanders is a freelance journalist from Harlem, N.Y.