Teen Acceptance of Single Parenthood on the Rise

A survey by the Centers for the Disease Control has found that while teenagers' views on most sexual issues remain unchanged, the acceptance of single parenthood has increased sharply in recent years.

According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 64 percent of males agree that “it is okay for an unmarried female to have a child.” That's up from 50 percent in 2002.

Other attitudes toward sexual issues – acceptance of premarital sex and views on marriage and cohabitation – remained mostly unchanged, according to the CDC report, “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing.”

The findings about teens' views of single parenthood come on the heels of a Pew Research Center report released in May, which showed that 41 percent of American births were to unmarried women, up from 28 percent in 1990.

The American entertainment media increasingly portray single motherhood as normal, and even fun, without highlighting the difficulties for mothers and children that result from not having a father present.

A least two major motion pictures released or scheduled for 2010 – May's “The Back Up Plan” and August's “The Switch” – focus on women trying to have children out of wedlock. The 2007 Oscar-winning movie “Juno” resolved a teen pregnancy with a single mother adoption.

Recent television shows also normalize single motherhood – “Parenthood,” “Lost,” “Cougar Town,” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” among others.

A study by the Heritage Foundation, however, suggests that the portrayal of single motherhood in entertainment media is far from accurate.

“[M]arital status is a key indicator of the present and future well-being of families, as well as of the cyclical prospects for reducing out-of-wedlock sex, pregnancy, abortions and births in the future,” the Foundation said in a statement about the report.

“When compared to similar children raised by two married biological parents,” the Heritage Foundation study found, “children raised in single-parent homes are more likely fail in school, abuse drugs or alcohol, commit crimes, become pregnant as teens, and suffer from emotional and behavioral problems.”  

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