Children living with cohabitating, unmarried parents on the rise, likely to have problems at school
It used to be that children of divorce were the ones pegged to grow up riddled with problems.
Now, however, a new report reveals that attention should be focused less on splitsville spouses and instead more on an overlooked demographic: cohabitating adults.
According to the study, put out by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values Tuesday, children of cohabiting parents are more prone to "externalizing disorders, more aggression," as well as "internalizing disorders, more depression."
Kids who have to see their parents date multiple partners don't have a firm sense of stability, and will likely end up shying away from marriage altogether when they grow up, the study said.
"Ironically, they're likely to experience even more instability than they would [have] if they had taken the time and effort to move forward slowly and get married before starting a family," said Brad Wilcox, co-author of the report.
The report also revealed that though divorce rates are down, the number of children who are born out of wedlock is, by contrast, rising quickly.
More importantly, however, this changing family form is taking place voluntarily: Unplanned pregnancies aren't leading to the shotgun weddings they used to.
"Cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing is as much a symptom of the instability of children's lives as it is a cause of it," marriage historian Stephanie Coontz said.
Young couples nowadays prefer to learn by trial and error rather than jump fully into a committed marriage, Coontz noted. In other words, people are opting to establish themselves as part of a strong union before saying "I do" - emotionally, psychologically, and most definitely financially.
Not that the trend of raising a child out of wedlock is anything new.
A study released at the end of last year revealed that 44 percent of adults with high school diplomas - but not college degrees - had children out of marriage, nearly triple what the statistics were in the 1970s.
Moreover, the December 2010 study pointed out that the trend of unwed parents has been moving up from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to the middle class.