male box, relationship rhetoric

Always a Baby’s Mama, Never a Bride


     Recently, I stumbled upon a staggering statistic mentioned throughout the website of a non-profit organization called No Wedding, No Womb (NWNW).  NWNW was founded to address the high instances of out-of-wedlock births, particularly among African Americans, since research shows that the rate in our community is a staggering 72%, which is three times the rate among Whites and Asians. 

     This news was alarming, yet not surprising, since only a small minority of the Black women I know who have children did so within the confines of marriage.  The most common reason (among Black women I know) was to keep their baby’s father “around,” hoping that he would eventually marry her.  Often,  this had the opposite effect, especially in the absence of previously existing love and affection for the mother.  Other reasons were long-term relationships that still hadn’t led to marriage, but rarely involved the use of contraceptives, and women growing older and wanting to have children, coupled with an inability to find a life partner ready and willing to marry them. 

     Although both parties are at fault, for not taking the proper precautions, I mostly blame Black men for this high percentage of out-of-wedlock births, assuming that the majority of these relationships are comprised of Black men and women, and very few involve Black women having children out of wedlock with non-Black men.  I simply don’t understand why having a child or children (seemingly, a larger responsibility financially and emotionally) isn’t considered with the same scrutiny and care as choosing a wife.  What is it about marriage that sends Black men running for the hills? And, why is marriage seen as negative, rather than a positive and natural progression into manhood? 

     After all, statistics show that married men tend to be healthier, happier and wealthier, so what’s keeping Black men from marrying in their prime rather than waiting until much later in life, if they marry at all? Insight into why some Black men prefer the single life reveals that, for most of them, being single is less arduous, freeing them from responsibility and stress often caused by divorce or an unhappy union.  And then, there is also the appeal of “new booty,” and having the freedom to bed random beauties as often as they’d like, for the rest of their lives (assuming they have the “goods” to attract said random beauties). 

          Interestingly, a Black man gave his perspective on why he is still single, and in response to an article on singleblackmale.org stated, “I used to believe that the right woman would come along and inspire me to want to marry her, but lately I’ve wondered if that logic was flawed all along. In other words, should I first make the decision that I want to be married and then find the right woman as opposed to the inverse? Although, this negates the ‘fairy tale’ most of us have been force fed since birth since it means love is more of a logical decision than an emotional one.”  In response to his comment, another author agreeably wrote, “When you’re looking for that “perfect person”, you’ll never find them. Everyone will fall short in one way or another. Plus your focus is always on everyone else’s shortcomings and not your own.  I think when you decide that you want to be a good wife/husband, your focus turns inward, on what YOU need to do to become a good [husband or] wife.”

     I’ve also heard many Black men say they want to be financially stable before they enter into marriage, whereas men of other races seem to look at marriage as a way to build financial security, hoping to accomplish some of their goals with their partner, as opposed to doing it alone.  Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, but since this seems to be the most common excuse reason why Black men decide not to marry at all, or hold off on marrying until later in life, I decided to research some of the men who made the Forbes 400 list of Richest People in America .  What I learned did not surprise me, but it may help to put things into perspective for Black men who insist on having “all their ducks in a row” before taking those vows. 

     No Black men grace this list.  However, many of the men that do, such as Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, and Warren Buffet chose to marry in their early 20s or early 30s, and managed to build empires and establish wealth during this time.  I also noticed that the vast majority of the billionaires on the list are currently married and have been for the majority of their lives.  Could there be a correlation between wealth and marriage? Possibly, but I digress.

     Incidentally, Jay-Z was an honorable mention, with the article stating that “[he] is on his way,” which is likely true.  After wedding, his bank account got considerably fatter, making him and Beyonce the highest earning couple in Hollywood.  Would Jay-Z have reached such heights as a single man? Probably not, considering Beyonce’s share of the wealth is much larger.  It certainly seems as though the grass has gotten a whole lot greener (pun intended) since he’s been with Bey, and not just in terms of money.  Jay-Z’s status was instantly “upgraded,” once the beautiful and talented Beyonce began throwing up “the Roc,” making him more credible and marketable than ever before.  

     So, where does the fear of marriage and commitment come from and why does it plague our community most?  Simply said, ‘monkey see, monkey do’ (and, no I am not literally calling us monkeys, it’s a figure of speech). I can already hear some of you saying, ‘having children out of wedlock is something all races of people do, not just Blacks…blah blah blah,’ but the statistics show that the instances (28% for whites, 17% for Asians) are drastically lower than the whopping 72% in our community. 

     It was also noted that the majority of women and men having children out of wedlock were lacking education, and thus had considerably lower incomes than those who did not.  But then, how do you account for men (obviously, I’m using the term ‘man’ loosely) like Lil Wayne who, at the ripe age of 29, has four children by three different women, one whom he married at age 15, but divorced 2 years later? Or Erykah Badu who has 3 children by three different men (I’m holding the women accountable too) or Lauryn Hill who had 5 children for the son of reggae legend, Bob Marley, but whom he has yet to marry.  Examples of Black men and women like this are prevalent in the media, and unless young boys and girls are taught differently or see otherwise, this is the behavior they will emulate.  Unfortunately, more and more African American children are growing up in single parent households, and in some instances, don’t understand how truly rewarding and fulfilling a loving marriage can be.     

     Reportedly, almost half of all Black women will never marry for reasons that aren’t quite clear (e.g. limited options, desirability, Black women too picky and unwilling to “settle” and Black women less willing to date outside their race), compared to only 23% of White women.  So, more and more Black women, including myself (yes, I admit it), have at least considered starting a family without a husband, or are simply more open to the idea of being a single mother than we were in the past. 

     After exploring the NWNW website and research, I understand why it is so important that we stop perpetuating this cycle.  I strongly believe that having both parents present in the home is crucial to the development of emotionally healthy children and I would like to be a part of the solution, not the problem.  I support the founder’s efforts to combat this problem, but I’m not sure if promoting marriage and the nuclear family will yield the desired result.  Have you ever considered having children out of wedlock? If so, why?

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Discussion

21 thoughts on “Always a Baby’s Mama, Never a Bride

  1. Great post!

    You state, “Although both parties are at fault, for not taking the proper precautions, I mostly blame Black men for this high percentage of out-of-wedlock births . . .”.

    You believe a man and a woman to be equally responsible for conception because they each have a hand in causing it to occur.

    Yet, you believe men to be mostly responsible for births when it is women who have the ability to carry and birth children and ultimately make the decision whether to do this or not.

    I’m not sure that I follow your logic but interesting post nonetheless 🙂

    Posted by Jackie | April 8, 2011, 7:14 PM
    • Thanks for your comment, Jackie. I blame both because they are both responsible for conception. However, I blame men for making the decision to conceive with a woman, but won’t marry her, since most of the time, it is the man proposing marriage, not the woman (so both responsible for conception, but only the man choosing whether he will marry).

      I just wonder what makes a woman “good enough” to have a baby with or to consider having a baby with (through lack of contraceptive use, etc.), but not to marry. Why is their decision to have a baby with a woman not as well-thought out and planned as their decision to marry a woman?

      Posted by bellatrice1 | April 8, 2011, 8:17 PM
      • There is a lot to be said about the fact that we are sexually liberated. our culture has shifted to the point where we have sex at times indiscriminately. We no longer wait to settle down in order to be intimate. It is much easier to get caught up in the moment than to make a lifelong promise. I do believe women and men are equally responsible. Each is in control of his/her own body and can make a conscious choice to not give up that piece of himself/herself if the other is not willing to committ. Also we have to get into relationships based on having similar expectations, desires, and goals. If the woman’s long-term goal is to settle down and have a family and the man’s goal is to have a temporary sex partner, for example, they are not right for each other. In a way when we give up our bodies to and have children with men who are just waiting for the next newer, hotter thing to come along, we ARE settling. At the same time that men have at times unnatural expectations of their partners, maybe we should stop expecting men who are not going to committ, to turn around if we give up our bodies and give them a child. A child is more than just a bargaining agreement to get a man to stay.

        Posted by Melanie | April 8, 2013, 7:23 AM
      • @Melanie Thanks for your comment. The biggest disservice we can do to our community is to continue to get pregnant by men who are not our husbands. I think the marriage aspect is so important because it builds a sense of cohesiveness. This is an epidemic in OUR community. Men of other races are still getting married. It’s mostly Black men who shy away from marriage, or who wait until later to decide to settle down and get married. Who are these women to have babies with? The answer according to NWNW is that we must expand our options and start dating outside of our race. But, I still am curious to know why it’s mostly Black men who do this and not other races.

        “It is much easier to get caught up in the moment than to make a lifelong promise.” The funny thing is it’s not really guys getting caught up in the moment anymore. Many Black men will ask you to have a baby for them. They want to have a child, but they don’t want the marriage. To me, no pregnancy is an accident unless you took precautions and those precautions failed. If you’re having unprotected sex, pregnancy is no accident.

        Posted by 30thoughts | April 8, 2013, 9:54 PM
      • I couldn’t find away to this piece it self but your comment opened the door for me to touch the subject I wanted to address. Both man and woman can be blamed for the conception…but I don’t think the man should take the full weight. A man can’t get pregnant, if a man has not married a woman she should be all the more responsible for using protection not only from pregnancy but from STD’s etc. A lot of women want admit it but they are trying to trap a man in a relationship and what they are really doing putting themselves, their child and the man in a up hill battle to be successful in life.

        Posted by Bernard Allen | June 8, 2013, 5:18 PM
      • @Bernard As a woman, I understand that, for a woman, having a child is an innate desire. I have known many women who, illogically and irresponsibly, got pregnant, sometimes to trap a man for financial or emotional reasons, but often because their desire to reproduce was so strong that they decided to get pregnant even though not in a relationship with their partner, and without any expectation of having the father around. I understand this urge. This is why many women are opting to artificially inseminate, etc.

        Men do not have the same desire. Their desire is for sex, so if they do not want to have a child, or are not financially or emotionally prepared to care for one, they should take the necessary precautions. Furthermore, men can have multiple babies at a time, women cannot. As far as I’m concerned, the ability to impregnate numerous women at a time, does in fact heavily place the responsibility on the man to behave within reason and in accordance with his desires and ability to care for these children.

        Posted by 30thoughts | June 9, 2013, 2:04 PM
      • what I have noticed, that with most baby mamas, they were never good enough to marry OR to have a man’s baby. They were just good enough to kcuf. Sorry, but its’ true. The woman just HAPPENED to get pregnant and trap (yes that’s what it seems like) the man. If men had it their way, most of them would force the woman to have an abortion. However, women, thinking a baby will keep the man, decide to continue with the pregnancy. if he hasn’t married you before you got knocked up, chances are, he doesn’t want to *shrug*

        Posted by Stacey | April 9, 2014, 8:26 AM
      • Just because a woman has a baby, doesn’t mean she was ever good enough. That’s the thing. I know plenty of women who were only good for a quick release, got pregnant, refused to get an abortion –even after the guy begged. lol. It sucks. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the woman. If you want to be married first, behave like a wife. If not, you’ll be a babymama

        Posted by Toni-Marie | October 24, 2016, 5:46 PM
  2. “Why is their decision to have a baby with a woman not as well-thought out and planned as their decision to marry a woman?

    Marriage affects a man directly. A baby affects a man indirectly. Very indirectly if he has no concrete connection (marriage) to the woman.

    Posted by Jackie | April 9, 2011, 4:35 PM
    • “Marriage affects a man directly. A baby affects a man indirectly. Very indirectly if he has no concrete connection (marriage) to the woman.”

      This is sad, but probably true, considering the prevalence of this situation in the Black community. What you said also suggests that part of the solution lies in making it so that having a child does affect men directly (since the mere fact that they’ve brought another human being into this world isn’t enough). I think the new child support laws have made it so that, at least, having children impacts them more financially than it did years ago, but men are finding ways around this too.
      I suppose it will take a concerted effort from Black men and women to make these numbers go down.

      Posted by bellatrice1 | April 9, 2011, 10:38 PM
  3. “. . . part of the solution lies in making it so that having a child does affect men directly . . .”

    Marriage does this. If his family gets larger, it affects him directly.

    “. . . the new child support laws have made it so that, at least, having children impacts them more financially than it did years ago . . .”

    Or, rather than relying on strangers to handle her business for her (a position of weakness), a woman can decide to ONLY commit to bearing, birthing, and raising the child of the man who has made a very real commitment (marriage) to her.

    Not only is that decision intelligent, it is a tremendous outward show of self respect and feminine strength. These traits are very attractive. The woman who displays them is marriage material.

    Posted by Jackie | April 10, 2011, 4:27 PM
    • “Or, rather than relying on strangers to handle her business for her (a position of weakness), a woman can decide to ONLY commit to bearing, birthing, and raising the child of the man who has made a very real commitment (marriage) to her.”

      Your answer addresses a small part of the problem, but it doesn’t address the growing percentage of Black women who want to be married and have a family, but still have not found “the One.” Given the percentage of Black women who are single and will NEVER marry, NWNW is also encouraging Black women to date outside of their race (which is what the founder did) in order to increase their chances of getting married and also address the increase in out-of-wedlock-births in the Black community. But, what if these women just simply aren’t attracted to men of other races? Must they run the risk of never bearing children at all (a desire that is often more biological than logical), waiting for a ring.

      In a perfect world, two people would fall in love, get married and then have kids. But, this is simply not happening at the rate in which it did in the past, especially with Black men and women. I can’t even say, with certainty, that if I were approaching the end of my child-bearing years, that I would forego ever having children just because the man I was with hadn’t or wouldn’t marry me. This is why my article focuses more on the Black male and their ideals of marriage and commitment. A lot of the ones who are eligible (single, heterosexual, etc.) are not marrying at all or waiting until later in life, after 40, for some of the reasons mentioned in the article.

      Posted by bellatrice1 | April 12, 2011, 10:20 PM
  4. “Your answer addresses a small part of the problem, but it doesn’t address the growing percentage of Black women who want to be married and have a family, but still have not found “the One”.”

    You’re right. My answer only offers a concise, effective way for a woman to both avoid becoming a baby’s mama and give herself a greater chance of becoming a bride.

    “ . . . my article focuses more on the Black male and their ideals of marriage and commitment. A lot of the ones who are eligible (single, heterosexual, etc.) are not marrying at all or waiting until later in life, after 40 . . .”

    Women who want to be married and have a family have the best chance of finding a suitable mate among men who want to be married and have a family.

    This eliminates the men in the article.

    Women who choose not to avail themselves to men who want to be married and have a family do so at the very real risk of never being married, never having children, or having children out-of-wedlock.

    It is what it is.

    “I can’t even say, with certainty, that if I were approaching the end of my child-bearing years, that I would forego ever having children just because the man I was with hadn’t or wouldn’t marry me.”

    Perpetuating the cycle, then, isn’t much of a problem for you. Do what works for you.

    Posted by Jackie | April 13, 2011, 3:52 AM
  5. “Although both parties are at fault, for not taking the proper precautions, I mostly blame Black men for this high percentage of out-of-wedlock births, assuming that the majority of these relationships are comprised of Black men and women, and very few involve Black women having children out of wedlock with non-Black men. ”

    No women are completely at fault.

    Say a adult leaves two teenagers home alone but before leaving they provide the male teen 2 forms of fire prevention and the female 21 forms of fire prevention. Upon returning home the parents discover the house burned to the ground. Of course they would hold the female more accountable vs. the male.

    Women have 21 forms of female birth control and MOST are not complicit on whether a man agrees to it or not. They are accountable and just try to scapegoat men for their own irresponsibility.

    Also black men are absolutely correct to avoid marriage to black women/women after they’ve spent the last 40 yrs putting down the institution of marriage and encouraging and supporting single-mothers (black women will ATTACK anyone who comes out against single-mother households). Combine the put-downs of men and marriage(Feminism)/black women’s staggeringly high divorce rate and their promotion and defense of single-mothers and voila. Black men avoid marriage because we HEARD YOU!!! Smart Dudes!!

    I’ve considered being a single parent myself as a black male via renting wombs via India and several African countries. WHY? I won’t have myself or my children victimized by a biased towards mothers American Family Court System. It’s nothing but a Kangaroo Court for women which black women have gone waaay overboard with. Sooo, just cut out the middle women thus avoiding having your children taken from you while your former wife still gets money from you, rarely allowing you to see your kids while she enjoys her new beau. But NO WOMEN WILL SUBJECT ME OR MY CHILDREN to what BLACK WOMEN HAVE BEEN DOING.

    Actions>Consequences.

    Posted by Adobe | October 17, 2011, 12:31 AM
    • Unlike other bloggers, I will not delete a post simply because I disagree with what was said.
      But, the fact of the matter is, I do disagree. Your analogy above does little to convince me that just because there are many methods of birth control available to women, that fact alone makes us more culpable for out-of-wedlock births. As I write this, my stance on the issue has actually changed. I think men and women are equally responsible for out-of-wedlock births since most OWBs occur during consensual, unprotected sex. Sure, there are some that occur due to failed contraceptive methods, and other more extreme circumstances, but the majority occur because the couple decides to forego birth control, of sound mind and body. The reason I initially blamed the phenomenon on men is because they are allowed to reproduce unfettered and without consequence, and sometimes without knowledge that they have indeed reproduced. The ability to reproduce is 20x easier for a man than it is for a woman, and men are unfortunately taking full advantage (I am thinking of an instance where a 19 year old got 14 women pregnant in a matter of 3 months). This type of irresponsible and animalistic behavior on behalf of one man is partly to blame. But, I do agree women should protect themselves, as well.

      I assume you are a Black man, hence your anger and hostility towards Black women. It amazes me how we (Black men and women) have once again been brainwashed against each other, ultimately hating each other and ourselves. “They” tell us that Black men don’t like us, are uneducated, gay and in prison, and aren’t marrying us and WE believe them. Then they tell YOU, Black women are all angry, ball-busting golddiggers who enjoy fending for ourselves and raising fatherless children, and YOU believe them. Viola!! Using the media, ignorant, yet highly influential rappers, and music, we have successfully been divided and conquered once again. Let me just point out that I know 1, possibly 2 Black women who fit this description and I have many friends and relatives. I won’t try to convince you that you’re wrong, bitter and misguided, but I would like you to consider not generalizing an entire race of people based on the horrible experiences you have apparently had.

      Posted by 30thoughts | October 17, 2011, 5:19 AM
  6. This is definitiely not the truth. Blaming the black man primarily dir this is simply not acceptable. Women get pregnant because they they are manipulative and stupid. They want to keep the Black man and force him with not taking the pill and receive a child and then the Black men is blamed for leaving. Papa was a Rolling stone but momma was a Slut and no one cares. Of course men have some responsibility, but if your woman tells you shes on the pill you believe her or shall they just assume they all lie and are bitches that want to get pregnant. I know for a fast the 2 of my girl friends got pregnant on purpose without the man knowing. It’s a shame of this generation and women should get a grip on that, it’s disgusting and makes men not trust women anymore.

    Posted by Wtf | August 25, 2014, 7:32 AM
    • @Wtf “Women get pregnant because they they are manipulative and stupid.” So, this is how you feel about your mother, your grandmother or your sister? Whomever does not want a child bears the burden of birth control. That’s just the way it is. No grown man can whine and cry about being “tricked” because we all know how babies are made, whether the woman is on the pill or not. The only way to avoid getting someone pregnant is to not have sex with them. Otherwise, you run the risk of impregnating someone. A slut because she chose to have her baby rather than abort it? A slut because she got pregnant in the first place? What if it was her first time? Men need to take responsibility for their own actions and quit whining and crying about being tricked. That crap is no longer an acceptable excuse for having multiple baby mamas and STDs. Sorry! GROW UP!!

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 26, 2014, 8:03 AM
  7. Smh….having children out of wedlock is wack. Whats even wacker is selling yourself short by choosing to accept “shacking up with a baby” as opposed to choosing to accept a man that deserves your time and is ready to be a husband and a father.

    Posted by BLINGBLANGGANG | September 6, 2015, 3:37 AM
  8. I put the blame on black women. Black women need to stop settling for being the baby mama, and having anchor babies. Black women need to set higher standards for themselves so that black men don’t maime them with children.
    Everytime a woman has children out of wedlock and becomes a single mother/baby mama, they drastically limit their options in the dating pool. This is the harsh reality and until black women wise up and stop being baby mamas, they will only continue to be part of that 73% and contribute to the destruction of the black family unit.

    Posted by Sophia | July 7, 2016, 2:59 AM

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