Does Cohabitation Set A Bad Example?

April 17, 2012  |  

Your grandmother shunned it and your mother warned you against it, but shacking up, or cohabitating with your mate sans the ‘I Do’ has become the new marriage for many women; and chances are, if you aren’t the one shacking up, you know someone who is.

In fact, a recent study claims that the number of cohabitating mates has risen within the past decade, with more couples having children while living under the same roof. While some people may defend the idea of cohabitating parents living together by saying that at least two parents are under the same roof raising a child, others aren’t as forgiving an argue that this practice sets a bad example for children, causing them to disregard the union of marriage.

The study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the National Survey of Family Growth, found that first births among unwed parents living under the same roof between the ages of 15 to 44 has risen from 12 percent in 2002 to 22 percent between 2006 and 2010. This can easily take the pressure out of being a single parent, but the fact still remains that the parents are unwed. So are these parents setting a bad example for their offspring?

W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, stated in a 2011 New York Times article appropriately titled, “A Shaky Foundation,” that being raised by cohabitating parents is dangerous to kids because it ‘does not institutionalize commitment in a way that is easily understood by romantic partners and their family and friends.”

Wilcox also added that compared with marriage, “cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety to romantic partners and their children. Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to break up and four times more likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples.”

Still, it can easily be said that there are couples who never lived together, got married, had children, and then abruptly divorced leaving behind a messy situation and upset children. But on the flipside, there are also couples who lived under the same roof, had children, and seemingly made it work. But even if the cohabitating parents stuck together, researchers say the following question still remains: Does it still set a bad example showing lack of commitment and disregard to marriage?

The reality is that most children mimic what they see; and those ideals, whether good or bad from childhood, are usually carried into adulthood. Marriage is a sacred union; and over the years we’ve seen it marred by open marriages and publicity stunts, which could ultimately lead children and some adults to think negatively about having or the necessity of such a union.

Living together before marriage has become widely acceptable in today’s society, with most people arguing that living with a person allows them to ‘test them out’ before marriage. Maybe this saves some people the drama and hassle of marrying only to end in divorce, but once a child is involved, is it fair to ‘test out’ a relationship at the risk of setting a bad example? Let us know your thoughts.

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