Heather Mac Donald takes on the ridiculous idea that you can be “too poor to marry”. I’m pretty sure that this take also works for the equally ridiculous idea that “we can’t get married until older and more established”.
The most idiotic reason that single mothers give for not marrying is: “I’m too poor to get married!” Evidently these women believe they’re not too poor to educate, house, feed, clothe, and provide a stable home and an enriching moral and cultural environment for a child on their own. The “I’m too poor” defense, documented by researchers such as Kathryn Edin, refers not simply to the cost of a wedding (which of course is avoidable through a City Hall ceremony), but to the day-to-day institution of marriage itself.
…Well, yes, “well-educated Americans” can offer “more” financial support to their spouses than less affluent Americans. But a married spouse at whatever income level is almost always going to improve the economy of a household over a lifetime, whether that spouse is adding the proceeds of a minimum-wage job or the inestimable value of being a stay-at-home parent while the other one works. But the notion that being a married parent requires more financial resources than being a single one is wrong not just as a matter of economic arithmetic but, more importantly, in terms of what married biological parents bring to their child — not money, but a 24/7 partnership in the extraordinarily difficult task of child-rearing. Household wealth is the least important reason to form a two-parent family; the idea that raising children as a single mother is on average in any sense easier than doing so as a couple, even in the stormiest of marital relationships, is absurd, and ignores the enormous strains of being both the sole bread-winner (or even welfare-collector) and the sole source of authority for your child. A second parent in the home provides back-up support in discipline when the other is at the breaking point, and a doubling of the emotional, intellectual, and moral resources that a child can draw on. You don’t need to be wealthy to offer that complementarity; poor married parents have raised stable, successful children for millennia.