If you ask today's 20-29 year olds that question, the odds of hearing "absolutely nothing" are likely.
In its latest issue, Parents Magazine ran an article titled, "A Generation of Unmarried Parents." The article looks at the experiences of unmarried millennial parents (born after 1980) and why they don't think marriage is necessary. The following quotes were particularly revealing:
"My family wanted us to get married [after we found out we were pregnant], but we agreed that we didn't want to do it just to make them feel comfortable…Not being married gives us a heightened awareness of the possibility of losing one another."
"Marriage is not something I feel I personally need."
"[Traditional marriage is] not important for me because a wedding is what you do when you start your life with someone. With two kids, a dog and a cat, we're already living it."
What about the children involved in these relationships? These are parents after all, and parenthood changes everything. They are no longer just responsible for themselves, but for their children as well.
If a child's parents talk openly about a “heightened awareness of the possibility of losing one another” or splitting up, how do you think the child feels, living with that same unease day in and day out? Without the security of having a married mom and dad who are committed to one another in a lifelong relationship, children are left to imagine what could happen if mom and dad decide to call it quits.
And this is not just speculation. According to the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, cohabiting twenty-something parents are three times more likely than married parents to split up by the time their child turns five.
It's also no secret that the number of children born to unmarried parents is increasing. According to a 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service, births to unmarried women rose from 11% in 1970 to 28% in 1990 and has held steady at 41% from 2008 to 2013. Women between the ages of 20-24 are responsible for the largest share of those births.
These quotes and statistics show that sadly, more and more children are being raised without the benefit of having a married mother and father.
It’s a fact of biology that children are the product of sexual relationships between men and women. And historically, those sexual relationships were reserved for marriage—when one man and one woman were committed to each other for life.
This natural connection between marriage, a mom, a dad, and children isn't just for kicks. Studies show that a married mom and dad provide the optimal environment for raising children. They do better in school and have fewer emotional and behavioral problems overall.
Then, why are we so quick to turn our backs on marriage, quick to forget about the well-being of children?
World-renowned fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana made international headlines in March when they went on the record to defend the needs of children to know and be raised by both their mom and dad.
"[Procreation] must be an act of love," said Dolce. "You are born to a mother and a father—or at least that’s how it should be."
"Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed…," added Gabbana,"…The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging."
So what is the best way to ensure that children are raised by both their mom and dad? You guessed it—marriage.
Sure, having a married mom and dad is the ideal circumstance, and not everyone gets the ideal for a whole host of reasons, but when did we stop pursuing the very best that life has to offer? Aren't we worth it? Aren't our children worth it?
Is the trend of unmarried parents an excuse to change the purpose of or get rid of marriage altogether…or is it that much more of a reason to remember, once again, why marriage is special, important, and unique?
If you believe that marriage has a special place in our society and is worth fighting for, you can make a difference right now by signing the petition in support of marriage.