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U.S. News Archive
April 07 - April 13, 2001

 

 

 
This page contains news for the period April 7, 2001 through April 13, 2001.  

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Friday, April 13, 2001

Philadelphia Inquirer gives AASP the last word on new census study

A story published by the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a government study this week confirmed a trend that may confound the family-values debate: More children lived in the traditional two-parent family in the 1990s, but more also lived with adults who were not married.

Statistics from a 1996 Census Bureau survey, combined with more recent surveys, show increasing diversity in living arrangements for the nation's children, from high immigration to changing divorce rates to the strong economy.

"It's not any one thing," said Jason Fields, author of the report released this week, based on a survey, not the 2000 census.

"We're seeing that the nuclear family has increased in recent years. But we're also seeing a rise in unmarried cohabitation."

The study found that between 1991 and 1996, the share of children living with both of their biological, married parents and any full biological siblings rose from 51 percent to 56 percent of all children.

At the same time, the study, along with more recent surveys, indicates that the number of children living with unmarried adults rose slightly.

The exact percentage change in cohabitation is unclear because the figures came from different surveys. The newly released 1996 survey, considered the most comprehensive, found that 5 percent of children that year (3.3 million) were living with adults who were not married, at least one of whom was a
biological parent.

"It is now more common for people to cohabit not only before they get married, but also after a marriage ends," said Lynn Casper, a researcher on children's development at the National Institutes of Health.

Casper offered several reasons for the trend, including the possibility that more divorced parents were moving in with their new partners but not marrying them.

The study of 71.5 million children in 1996 also found:


                     About 17 percent of all children, and 57 percent of black children, lived with an unmarried parent in 1996, some of whom were cohabiting with another adult.

                     About 71 percent of children lived in any type of two-parent household, 25 percent lived in single-parent households, and 4 percent in households with some other adult, such as a grandparent.

                     Less than 1 percent (5.2 million) were living with one biological parent and either a stepparent or adoptive parent.


                     About 21 percent (15.3 million) had no brothers or sisters present in the house. Among the 79 percent with siblings, about 11 percent shared one biological parent but not the other.

Experts also differed on the reasons for the trends in cohabitation and traditional families, and particularly whether a child is better off living with two unmarried adults or with a single parent.

Fields also said a bigger number of immigrants in the 1990s, who tend to cling to their families upon arrival, may have pushed up the numbers. He also noted a general increase, from the 1980s to 1990s, in the fertility rates among women in their 30s.

Attitudes also may be changing about the value of staying in the traditional nuclear family, which had been steadily breaking up since the 1950s.

Susan Orr, a specialist in family trends at the conservative, pro-marriage Family Research Council, based in Washington, said the trend showed more people were questioning the notion that children were best served by having their unhappy parents get divorced.

"I think there is . . . an increasingly open and public discussion that divorce is bad and marriage is good for children and adults," Orr said. "More mothers and fathers staying together with their children is a good thing."

Asked about more parents living unmarried, Orr said: "Let's help them get married. If this is a real family unit, let's formalize it. If there are barriers we've put in their place, let's remove them."

Gregory Asc, a senior research associate at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, noted that the trend away from single-person parenting might not always be good.

"Bringing an [unmarried] man into the house may be a mixed blessing," Asc said. "There is some evidence that having a boyfriend around is worse."

Advocates for unmarried people, however, sharply criticized the study's contention that the nuclear family has rebounded, pointing out that the number of married-with-children households is still down dramatically from the1950s and 1960s.

"Unmarried America keeps growing," said Thomas F. Coleman, director of the California-based American Association for Single People. "More and more children are living with unmarried adults, more are being raised by grandparents, and the reality is family diversity."

Census says American's families are more traditional; AASP says it isn't so

A story released by the Associated Press reports that the prototypical nuclear family of black and white TV -- where mom, dad and their biological children all live together -- may not be as endangered as it sometimes seems. The percent of children living in such traditional families rose during the early 1990s, from 51 percent in 1991 to 56 percent in 1996.

At the same time, other families became increasingly complex, with more stepparents, grandparents and adoptive parents raising children, the Census Bureau says in a report released Friday.

The new data examined 71.5 million children living in the United States in fall 1996.

The report, based on a survey of 37,000 households, both rejects and builds upon common perceptions of increasingly diversified families.

``It's not entirely a clear picture,'' said the Census Bureau's Jason Fields, the report's author.

Most unexpected may be the rise in the proportion of children living in ``nuclear families'' -- where the children live with their biological mother and father and no one else.

In addition, births to teen-agers and to unmarried older women have fallen, helping to slow a three-decade climb in the number of children living with single parents. Still, one in three babies is born to unmarried parents.

But the proportion of children living in any sort of two-parent family -- including nuclear families as well as those with stepparents and other arrangements -- continued to fall, from 73 percent in 1991 to 71 percent in 1996.

The report found that all sorts of non-traditional families are becoming more common. Specifically, in fall 1996:

 --Single parents: About one in four children lived with a single parent, up slightly from 1991. Nine times out of 10, they were living with their mother. Still, 1.8 million children lived with their single fathers.

About 3.3 million children were living with a single parent and another adult. In nearly half these cases, the other adult was the child's other parent, but the couple was not married.

 --Blended families: About 16.5 percent of children live in a family recreated due to remarriage, with stepparents, stepsiblings or half-siblings. That compares with about 15 percent in 1991.

 --Adopted children: About 1.5 million children were living with adoptive parents, but only about half of those were living with two adoptive parents. In most other cases, stepparents had adopted the biological children of their new spouses.

 --Multi-generational: Some 5.9 percent of children lived in a home with at least three generations, usually because a grandparent was present.That is up slightly from 5.7 percent in 1991.

 --Other relatives: 14 percent of children, or 10.3 million, were living in ``extended families,'' where the household includes at least one person outside the nuclear family. In 1991, it was 12.5 percent.

Children living with just one parent were four times as likely to live in extended families, as single parents look for others to share resources and provide extra support.

Children in racial minority groups were more than twice as likely than white children to live in extended families, the report said. In some cases, that is because new family members immigrated to this country and moved in with relatives.

Not mentioned in the AP article is a press release issued by the American Association for Single People which criticized the press release used by the Census Bureau to announce the new report.  That release claimed "traditional nuclear family" on the "rebound," which AASP says is a distortion of facts.

Census data find the percentage of children living with biological parents increasing to 56 percent

A story released today in the Christian Science Monitor reports that between 1991 and 1996, the percentage of American children living with both their biological parents jumped from 51 percent to 56 percent, according to a report released today by the US Census Bureau. The finding, which surprised many researchers, suggests that family relations in the United States may be entering a new era of stability after two decades of tumultuous change.

"It's the single most hopeful finding that I've heard from the Census Bureau in years," says David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, a New York think tank devoted to issues of family and civil society.

"It's unexpected," adds Andrew Cherlin, professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "Increases in family stability are always good news."

Rather than a return to the Ozzie and Harriet days of the 1950s, the new report suggests that changes in family structure are leveling off. For example, in 1990, single mothers were raising 22 percent of the nation's children; by 1996, that share had risen slightly to 23 percent.

This indicates that diverse forms of parenting - from adoption to stepparents - remained prevalent during the mid-1990s. "Although we may see a stabilization of and even a slight rise in the married-parent nuclear families, it's not enough [of a change] that we can afford to ignore these other families," says Stephanie Coontz, cochair of the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit group of researchers based in New York.

Researchers attribute the reemergence of nuclear families to many factors. For one thing, the divorce rate has fallen from its peak around 1980, when there were 5.2 divorces for every 1,000 people; by 1999, the rate had dropped to 4.1.

Also, out-of-wedlock births are leveling off. In 1970, roughly 1 out of 10 births involved unmarried mothers. Although the rate surged to 1 out of 3 in 1994, it has since stayed virtually level.

But family experts caution that the rebound of nuclear families, while real, could be exaggerated by other factors. The economy, for example, may have played a role. Between 1991 and 1996, families' average financial situations improved significantly. Typically, such improvements reduce the number of divorces. By one estimate, every one percentage point gain in the unemployment rate generates some 10,000 extra divorces.

In any case, the rise of nuclear families report tends to be good news for children, researchers say.

Despite the rise in the nuclear family, some 44 percent of children still live in other family arrangements. "There's a tremendous diversity in the living arrangements of kids," says Jason Fields, family demographer with the US Census Bureau and author of the new report.

A quarter of all children lived in single-parent households. And 4 percent lived with neither parent. Roughly three-quarters of that last group lived with grandparents or another relative.

The portion of children in various living arrangements changes dramatically depending on race and ethnicity. For example, while 84 percent of Asian (and other Pacific Island) children and 79 percent of non-Hispanic whites lived with two parents, only 38 percent of black children did. Just over half of black children lived in mother-only households, twice the share of Hispanic children who did.

"That certainly says something about the economic resources that these children have access to," says Mr. Fields. Usually, one-parent households are poorer than two-parent homes.

The number of adopted children stood at 1.5 million in 1996, up from 1.1 million in 1991. Nearly half lived with two adoptive parents; another third lived with one biological parent and an adoptive parent.

As late as 1970, 85 percent of children lived in two-parent homes, 11 percent in mother-only homes, 1 percent in father-only homes, and 3 percent with neither parent.

Then in the next two decades, the number of divorces and single-parent households dramatically increased. By 1990, 22 percent of all children lived in mother-only homes. The nuclear family seemed under attack - a notion that may fade if the new trend holds up.

"There was a sense of inevitability about the disintegration of the two-parent child-rearing household," says Mr. Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values. "If nothing else, this shows there's nothing inevitable about the trend."

 

Thursday, April 12, 2001

Hollywood, stop depicting single women as desperate and lonely

A story published today in The Christian Science Monitor reports that the growth in the ranks of single women in recent decades has created a new cultural phenomenon. Today, some 40 percent of all adult women are single.

In Tinseltown and in bookstores, the media is beginning to present more nuanced portrayals of these women - from the self-sufficiency in "That's Life" a CBS sitcom, to the candidness of "Bridget Jones's Diary," which opens in theaters tomorrow.

Adding to the fuel is a grass-roots explosion of novels and newsletters, photo exhibits and websites dedicated to a more faithful presentation of single women, whose experiences differ dramatically from those of their mothers and grandmothers.

"There's no script for them [to] follow or borrow from an earlier generation of women," says Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. "They're defining this stage of life as they go through it."

Despite the popularity of tv shows like "Ally McBeal" and "Sex in the City," single women say they feel they are often a transparent part of society, considered neither complete nor financially viable.

"We're seen as people-in-waiting," says Lorie Johnson, a single woman in Little Rock, Ark., who is about to buy her own home. "The idea that we could be happy and content with our lives and escape the marriage-go-round seems to escape [people]."

Part of the problem is that society is still figuring out what to do with women who aren't following the traditional married-with-children pattern.


About 43 million women - or 40 percent of the adult female population -are over 18 and single, according to 1998 census figures. Thirty years ago, that number was about 30 percent.

More men are single, too, but the percentages of unmarried women ages 25 to 29, and 30 to 34 have roughly tripled between 1970 and 1998. The median age of marriage for women has also gone up -from about 20 in 1960 to 25 in 1998.

A Young and Rubicam study from last summer also suggests that marketers who ignore single women suffer at their own peril. Their study noted that single women are more frequently buying cars and houses and taking vacations on their own, a contrast to the unfulfilled types the media often makes them out to be.

"Happily married is something people have an image of. But there is no shared cultural image of being happily single," says Professor Potuchek.

During research for her coming book about changing relationship patterns, Dr. Whitehead has counted some 20 novels that women, mostly in their 30s, have written in the last decade.

Laura Zigman is on Whitehead's list. Ms. Zigman's best-selling novel "Animal Husbandry" was the basis for "Someone Like You" starring Ashley Judd as a TV booking agent who goes through a breakup. She felt that there was a lack of literature that talked about being heartbroken -aside from Madame Bovary and cheesy self-help books, Zigman says. "It mirrored what happens to a lot of women where there is a big gap between relationships."

One thing that might comfort younger single women to feel more secure in their singleness is more images of older single women, says Kay Trimberger, a professor of women's and gender studies at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif.  Trimberger is a member of the American Association for Single People.

"In your late 20s and early 30s, it's harder to be single because you're more subject to societal and marriage pressures," she says. "Whereas older single women have created lives for themselves," including strong family ties and circles of friends wider than even married women have.

CBS's "Judging Amy," has a good example of that. Amy's mother is single, and a social worker. Amy herself is a judge and single mother -more than a stereotype.

"It's a great example," says Potuchek, "It can include romance, but it's not about it."

Even more telling may be that the people behind Harlequin romances are coming out with a new line of books in November. They will focus on the coming-of-age experiences of single women.

"More than anything, these books are supposed to reflect real life situations. They're hopeful but not fantasy based," says Margaret Marbury, editor of the new imprint Red Dress Ink. "These aren't exclusively the search for Mr. Maybe, but a single woman's pursuit of happiness, whatever that may be."

 

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Campus child care helps single-parent students stay in school

A story published today by USA Today reports that an increasing demand for childcare on college campuses has prodded Congress to approve a fivefold increase in this year's funding for a program that helps provide child care for single-parents and other low-income student parents to gain an education
and escape poverty.

The budget for Child Care Access Means Parents In Schools (CCAMPIS) was increased to $25 million from $5 million in fiscal 2000.

The 3-year-old program, which supported child-care centers at 87 colleges and universities its first two years, can now spread to perhaps 300 more campuses this year.

Under the Bush administration, however, program funding is uncertain. And even this year's larger amount just scratches the surface.

Campus child-care programs meet an estimated one-quarter of the needs of student parents, says Todd Boressoff, public policy chairman of the National Coalition for Campus Children's Centers. Of the nation's 3,000 two- and four-year colleges and universities, some 2,300 offer child care.

''Most don't begin to serve the need on campus,'' says Boressoff. With a college degree now almost required for a good wage, and more older students enrolling, demand will continue.

A projection from the Education department states that this year alone, 21% of the country's 15,361 undergraduate and graduate students are 35 or older, and more than two-thirds of the older group are women. The number of those older students has soared 124% since 1980.

Ten percent of undergraduates in the 1995-96 school year were single parents, the latest Department of Education statistics show. Factoring in gender, age or race, the percentage of single-parent undergraduates was higher -- 13% of women, 18% of students ages 25 to 34, and 32% of black women.

In a 1987-88 survey of student parents at State University of New York community colleges with child care, 60% said college wouldn't be possible without child care; 86% of the student parents using child care stayed in school or completed their degree, much higher than the 60% success rate for the total student population.

Low-income students easily got help with child-care costs before the federal government overhauled welfare in 1996. Under the old system, recipients could attend college and get federal subsidies for child care.

Now, states focus more child-care subsidies on parents who work, rather than parents in school.

To meet the need of student parents,Boressoff's group and advocates such as the Children's Defense Fund pushed for CCAMPIS, which Congress created in 1998. Under the program, the Department of Education distributes four-year grants to college child-care centers where more than half of student clients are low-income. The money doesn't pay students' costs, but the centers can use it in other helpful ways.

For example, the University of South Dakota used its $129,000 grant to start a program for infants and toddlers, child-care coordinator Merle Eintracht says.

Congress gave the CCAMPIS program $5 million each of its first two years, then jumped to $25 million for 2001. Boressoff says for 2002, he will ask Congress to give it the full $45 million the law authorizes.

But, says Becky Timmons of the American Council on Education, ''It's not clear that (CCAMPIS) is going to have any support from the (Bush) White House.''

Massachusetts activists  file suit over the right to marry

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that seven gay and lesbian couples in Springfield, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking the state to lift its prohibition of same-sex marriages.

"We've conducted ourselves as a married couple since 1991," said Heidi Norton, of Northampton, who is suing with her partner, Gina Smith.

Still, Norton said they run into problems daily that other couples with children would not. "Every place we go we have to make an extra effort," she said.

The right to marry would provide the couples more protection than laws specifically designed to recognize same-sex unions, said Mary Bonauto, a lawyer for the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, a New England group that is financing the lawsuit.

"It's the simplest solution," Bonauto said. "Everyone knows what marriage means."

The women appeared at a morning news conference to publicize the lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston where most of the plaintiffs live.

The suit is seeking the court to force the state Department of Public Health, which regulates marriage certificates, to lift its prohibition against same-sex marriages.

"We simply have no authority to register a union that under the statute is illegal," said Roseanne Pawelic, a spokesperson for the Health Department.

"In 1989 the state's anti-discrimination laws were amended and in that amendment the Legislature explicitly said 'nothing in this Act ...legitimizes or validates a homosexual marriage,'" Pawelic said.

In 1999 the state Supreme Judicial Court rejected an attempt by the city of Boston to provide health insurance coverage to  gay partners of city workers finding it was up to the Legislature to change the existing law on the books.

 

Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Survey reports more people are having premarital sex

A story published today by the Badger Herald, a campus newspaper at the University of Wisconsin, reports that a recent national survey conducted by Adam & Eve, a large mail-order erotica distributor, revealed that 70 percent of Americans had their first sexual intercourse before marriage. Only 26 percent reported saving their virginity for their wedding night.

University Health Services associate director Scott J. Spear confirmed the results, and contended that young adults are engaged in irrational decision-making based on meaningful relationships when deciding to have sex for the first time.

Adam & Eve spokesperson Katy Zvolerin noted that society is getting away from marriage as the primary factor in deciding to be sexually active.

"While the institution of marriage is sacred to many people, it appears that the modern sexual attitudes have generally surpassed the old notion of abstaining from sex until marriage," she said. "This doesn't mean we've become a 'loose' society with no moral standards. It simply means more and more people are exploring healthy sexual relationships before settling down with their life partners."

The survey also added that 80 percent of men reported having premarital sex, while 62 percent of women admitted to the same.

Spear contended that this gender gap may be linked to a social double standard that affects how people answer these types of survey questions. Because sexually active women are perceived by many as "easy," while  men are considered "experienced," these findings may be flawed.

"Men may be over-reporting and women may be under-reporting," Spear said.

Additionally, among adults 50 or older, only 58 percent said they had intercourse before marriage. The same survey reveals that 78 percent of adults under the age of 50 said they had engaged in premarital sex.

"I don't think that having premarital sex means I've sacrificed my morals," said Kimberly Hauser a student  interviewed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "I knew that I was ready, and that there was a good chance I would marry this guy someday, so why wait four years to finish college, get married and then have sex?"

For Hauser and many other students, the presence of a meaningful relationship can be the most important criteria in deciding to have sex before marriage.

However, 26 percent of Americans, including UW freshman Nate Bach, plan to wait.

"Personally, I am going to wait, but that doesn't mean I hold anyone to any standards," he said.

States adopt covenant marriages to curb divorces

A story published today by  USA Today reports that Arkansas becomes the third state to offer covenant marriages -specialized, voluntary agreements making divorces tougher to get.

Officials in the office of Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, say that the governor is also expected to sign a similar bill  that gives couples a break on marriage license fees if they take a marriage education course. Florida has also enacted a similar law.

The developments are the latest in a growing trend. States are trying to reduce the divorce rate to help protect children, who do best in intact families.

The movement sends a powerful message, says Diane Sollee, founder of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education. "Momentum is building.Grown-ups out there are saying marriage is something we should take a stand on. We feel strongly enough to pass a law. We have to value this institution before we lose it."

Arkansas' covenant marriage law voluntarily pledges couples to marry for life and to get marital counseling if they face marital  difficulties. Divorces will only be granted in special cases, including adultery, committing of a felony, or physical or sexual abuse.

Arkansas has the nation's second-highest divorce rate, says Chris Pyle, family policy director for Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee. "The governor is a former Southern Baptist minister. He has made marriage an important priority in his administration."

Louisiana and Arizona have passed their own versions of covenant marriage laws, while there is similar activity in Texas and Iowa, says John Crouch, a divorce lawyer who runs Americans for Divorce Reform. The group tracks and advocates change in divorce laws. "I think we are looking at very slow, but long-term, change."

Last year, the governor of Maryland vetoed a marriage education bill, saying it didn't specify who would administer premarital education courses that would be offered in exchange for discounted marriage fees.

Rep. John Leopold, one of the bills sponsor's, revised the previous bill detailing a list of professionals who can offer the courses, which must last at least four hours. "We have met the governor's objections," he says.

"Policymakers have to deal honestly with these issues. Studies show where there is a nurturing environment with a husband and wife, children have a much better chance for success," Leopold says.

Critics of this movement however, are skeptical. "Much marriage education legislation seems like window dressing to me," says Don Bloch, past president of the American Family Therapy Academy. "I don't know about a four-hour course. It seems like political flimflam by people who appeal to our desire to do something about marriage."

 

Monday, April 9, 2001

Injunction hearings: 'poor man's divorce' for unmarried couples

A story published today in the Daytona Beach News Journal reports that in domestic violence injunction cases involving unmarried couples, allegations of violence are often set aside while the hearings turn, in the words of County Judge Peter Marshall, into "a poor man's divorce court."

"That's where you see a lot of times where they race each other down to the courthouse trying to get possession of the home or kids," Marshall says.

According to family law attorney Rick Brown, "at the domestic violence hearing, what usually happens is the subject switches from domestic violence to custody. A lot of them end up being lengthy custody hearings."

Petitioners seek immediate child support payments, sole possession of a shared home and custody of the couple's children.

That might not be a bad thing, says Circuit Judge John Doyle. By formally splitting up an unmarried couple, judges help remove the pressures that create the potential for abuse, he says.

While some judges do not share the same view, Doyle sees the injunction process as a medium through which unmarried couples pass enroute to resolving disputes.

He says that the process has significantly reduced repeated incidents of violence among separating couples.

A majority of couples who come to his courtroom are high school dropouts, between 18 and 30 years of age, work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs and have"terrible" job histories, he says.

An allegation of domestic violence "basically triggers our jurisdiction to intercede in this dispute," he says. "I ask up front if everybody understands that we are here today to break up.' "

As in a divorce proceeding, Doyle spends a lot of time on custody issues, and splitting household furnishings.

"I do almost everything I do in a divorce," he says. "If I don't, they get in a big fight later on, and that defeats the purpose of them coming to see me."

In the hearings, "we make a list of issues to focus attention on -- what we're really there to talk about. The issue with (the man) is his stuff. He wants his stuff."

Often, the hearing is the first time the man learns he is being dumped, Doyle says.

"The woman may want to break up with the guy but can't figure out a way to tell him for fear he will explode," he says. "He doesn't know, and a lot of times you can see the guy react visibly when that comes out."

Young adults are turning to sexual abstinence

A story published today in the Birmingham Post Herald reports that a small percent of adults in their 20s and 30s are abstaining from sex.

Some are religious people who say they want to do right by God. Others fear HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Some have had failed relationships and are tired of loveless romping. Others are virgins - an unusual status since most Americans have sex by the time they are 17, according to University of Chicago research - and are waiting to fall in love with a lifelong partner.

"The pendulum is swinging in the other direction," said Dee Dee Fix, a program educator for Worth the Wait, a sexual education program based in Texas that develops programs and curriculum on sexual abstinence.

Fix said people who have become adults within the past decade have seen how casual sexual relationships have affected them or their friends.

Fear of STDs, date rape and divorce are also influencing young adults to keep their hormones at bay, Fix says.

"People are starting to recognize the severity of STDs especially," Fix said. "They are saying, 'This is something that can harm me in the long run.'"

Edward O. Laumann, one of the authors of "Sex in America: A Definitive Study," says it's hard to believe that many people are abstaining from sex voluntarily - meaning they have other physical, mental or emotional issues preventing them from participating in sex.

Anecdotal evidence shows that people are more accepting of premarital sex, Laumann says, which suggests sexual abstinence isn't as critical as it used to be. Only about 2 percent of the population has not engaged in sex by age 30, and that number includes those under constraint not to, such as priests, nuns and disabled people, Laumann says.

But sexual morality is making news, Laumann adds. "People not having sex is newsworthy because it's rare and unusual, and that attracts attention,"Laumann says.

For some, their own realization of how sex did not add anything significant to their relationship is enough to drive them towards sexual abstinence.

Alves, a Christian, said she had hoped that sex would fix a lot of the other problems that had surfaced in their relationship, including her boyfriend's alleged drug use and her feelings of distrust towards him.

The sex continued, but troubles with their relationship did not disappear. They broke up countless times, she remembers. But Alves always returned to him.

A few years into their marriage, Alves said, she realized the distrust and the alleged drug use still plagued their relationship, so they divorced.

A year later, Alves credits her religious beliefs for helping her recover from her marriage and subsequent divorce. And she says she has a renewed understanding of sex.

"I truly believe it's God's guideline for me to wait until I am married,"she said. "I know he has my spouse picked out for me."

For Valeria Moreno, the danger of STDs was a big concern. The 20-year-old lost her virginity when she was 15.

"At first, I thought this is what I wanted to do because I wasn't looking for a relationship. I thought I would just have my fun," Moreno said.

But knowing the threat of STDs, she said, influenced her to settle down. A year ago she re-committed to abstinence.

"I want to focus on getting to know someone first," Moreno said."Whenever I got in a sexual relationship it got boring and I wanted to get out of it."
 

 

Sunday, April 8, 2001

Study shows that population of single adults in 1996 has double from 1970

A story published in the News Herald reports that there are more than 77 million unmarried Americans - double the number of single people documented in 1970 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The government agency reported in 1996 that those 77 million people represented 40 percent of the adult population. In 1970, about 28 percent of Americans were unmarried.

"The reality is that marriage is now the interlude and singlehood the state of affairs," said Barbara Dafoe Whitehead co-director of The National Marriage Project of  Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Whitehead said women, specifically, spend less time married than they do single before marriage, as widows or as divorcées. Part of that time gap results from the fact women live longer than men, she said.

The period of time before marriage is also getting longer.

The census reports in 1955, the median age for women married for the first time was 20.2 years, and for men, 22.6 years. By 1996, those numbers increased to 24.8 years for women and 27.1 years for men.

Whitehead theorized that both genders are completing school, focusing on careers and becoming economically prepared for marriage before taking the plunge.

Whitehead said that a factor that has not been present before is the fear of single young people about divorce even before they get married.

The divorce rate that fluctuates between 43 percent and 50 percent is the symptom of a larger problem, said Steve Lowe, singles pastor with Willoughby Hills Friends Church.

"The bottom line is that we are breeding unhealthy individuals as a whole," Lowe said. "They become self-fulfilling prophecies of their own brokeness."

By not dealing with the original problem, the cycle can repeat itself, Lowe said. Or the adult individual still could be coping with tough issues the same way he did when he or she was a child, instead of dealing with them like an adult.

Another basic level of "dysfunction" is present in society, Lowe said.


People are placing self-gratification above working on their relationships. Today's attitude is "do what feels good to you," he said.

"We've lost touch with the priorities," Lowe said.

Despite increasing numbers of unmarried adults, census figures still show another reality: Many people are married.

In 1998, nearly 111 million Americans were married and living with their spouse.

"Most people still want to be married at some point in their lives," Whitehead said. "But people don't think it's a tragedy to be single, and people don't want to be married to just any old person just for the sake of being married."

Irene Fiala, a sociology professor at the Ashtabula campus of Kent State University, said the same. Ninety percent of the population does marry, she said.

"We are still a marrying society," she said. "We just delay it a little more."

Fiala looks at it from a technical standpoint. She said single people can be categorized in four ways: ambivalents, resolveds, regretfuls and wishfuls.

"Ambivalents" are voluntarily, but temporarily, single and are usually young. "Resolveds" are voluntarily and permanently single. "Regretfuls" are involuntarily and permanently single, "because they kind of missed the boat." "Wishfuls" are involuntarily and  temporarily single. Members of this group could be divorced, Fiala said. Eighty percent of divorced people do re-marry, she said.

 

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