Rude Things People Say To Unmarried Parents

September 28, 2018  |  
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millennial families family with a little 3 year old girl smiling on a city waterfront. The mother, a mid adult African-American woman, is holding her mixed race daughter who is sitting on a railing. The man is African-American and Hispanic.

It’s no secret that millennials are putting an end to a lot of old traditions surrounding marriage, parenthood, and the nuclear family. We’re marrying later, we aren’t getting married at all, and some of us are having children out of wedlock, remaining with the other biological parent and still just…not getting married. Some say out of wedlock children are on the rise because women do not rely on marriage as much today as they did 60 years ago for things like financial survival or societal acceptance. I guess I like to think of it as more of a personal decision than any sort of monetary or cultural one. But, I really cannot speak for all of the women who are reproducing with their committed partner and not tying the knot. I can just tell you that it’s happening a lot, and people can still be surprisingly close-minded about it. Here are things people still say to unmarried parents.

millennial families mid adult father stands on his front porch with his preteen son. He gestures and frowns as they talk and lean against the railing.

Don’t you want to be a real family?

Er, they are a real family. And who really gets to say what constitutes a real family, anyways? Is it biology? Is it a group of people who have each other’s back, no matter what? Is it both? I can certainly say I know a lot of people who are technically family according to DNA but do not have each other’s backs.

millennial families teen Girl with crossed arms

Kids will bully them

Bullies will be bullies. They will always find a reason to bully other children because they look for reasons. If it weren’t unmarried parents, it would be something else. Maybe we should be more focused on making bullies stop bullying entirely, rather than making people adjust their choices to avoid bullying.

kids eating healthy and kids grocery shopping

Your child deserves some stability

I will assert again that married parents do not always, necessarily, provide a sense of stability for their kids. Are we just going to ignore all of the divorces out there? Do you think those homes felt very stable for those children, during the lead-up to the divorce? It’s the people in the family who make it feel stable—not any paperwork or labels.

millennial families of young girl carrying an ornate wedding pillow topped with the wedding lasso cord for the ceremony

Your kid can be part of your wedding

That’s cute but, that’s also assuming there will be a wedding. This is a little thing some folks say when they’re secretly trying to convince you to get married, and are projecting their need to conform to societal norms onto you.

millennial families and educational blocks with her baby

That’s very European of you

Uh, I guess? But many couples who have kids out of wedlock aren’t going for a thing. They aren’t trying to be edgy, modern, controversial, or “European.” The choice had nothing to do with how outsiders might perceive them.

marriage and divorce rates and groom

You may as well get married now

Then there are the people who say, “You may as well get married now—you have kids already.” Gee. How romantic. Every couple wants to get married because they “May as well.” Yup—that’ll go in the vows. “We figured, why not?”

millennial families girl sitting on window seat with head in hand

Your child could be promiscuous

Some maintain that children who grow up with unmarried parents become promiscuous, and grow up with the idea that relationships and sex are all very casual. But an unmarried couple isn’t necessarily unfaithful, polyamorous, into swinging, and things like that. Oh, and by the way, it’s married couples who are into swinging.

millennial families shot of an unrecognizable woman taking a pregnancy test while sitting on the toilet at home

Was it an accident?

First off, that’s nobody’s business. Even if it were an accident, the child is here now and the couple adores their child. Second off, it doesn’t have to have been an accident. Plenty of couples make the conscious decision to have kids, without a marriage.

marriage and divorce rates couple having fun at party

You could both bail at any minute

Some people fear that an unmarried couple might just walk out on the relationship at any time. First of all, um, they have a child together so that is some form of commitment—a bigger, more permanent one than marriage. Also, married people get divorced all of the time.

millennial families race and mother checking daughter in car seat

I don’t want my kid around that

The truly close-minded don’t want their children hanging out with the kids of unmarried parents. Right…because that’s one of the real dangers and horrors happening in the world right now.

millennial families gathers together for Thanksgiving dinner. Mother is tickling son. Family laughs.

So whose is he, legally?

Huh? It’s astonishing this question even comes up and most couples don’t even want to entertain it by answering it but the child belongs to BOTH parents. Like…what? A child isn’t like a house—she doesn’t only become community property after X amount of years of marriage.

maternal love meaning African American mother holding her stomach

You won’t have more, right?

This piggybacks off the assumption that the first out of wedlock child was a mistake. Some people say (or rather, insist), “You won’t have more before getting married, right?”

millennial families up portrait of mother and baby

What do you tell your kid?

Each couple will discuss that and decide on what to tell their child. But might I point out that there are a lot of things we need to explain to kids like, homophobia, racial slurs, and risks of police brutality. So, explaining why mommy and daddy aren’t married is a walk in the park.

millennial families

You can get married for cheap, ya know

It isn’t about the money and yes the couple knows that they can get married for cheap. They know how to throw a dirt cheap wedding if they wanted to. But, they still don’t want to.

millennial families in a bath tub

How will you pass on the family name?

Well, that question presumes that if the couple did get married, that the woman would take her partner’s name. Or that the child should have the father’s last name. These decisions are up to the couple’s discretion, but there is really no wrong way to go about them.

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