St. Valentine’s Day is over and done with, and in honor of Black History Month, The Sun has featured important figures, arguable and not, in our history. This time, however, I wanted to show love for the, unsung, taken for granted, African-American, nuclear family. A committed couple, married or not, who have pledged themselves, each to the other, to battle the pratfalls, and challenges of American life.
The prototype for the “ideal” American family is one in which there are two, resident, parents, a certain number of children--- all of whom are then expected to pursue a college education, then further letters, and, ultimately, to achieve the “American Dream”.
In Shreveport, Wikipedia shows that there were 91,501 households, out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% were married couples living together, 21.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families.
Reality has shown us that this template doesn’t always work out for every individual, despite their hopes and dreams. Unexpected pregnancies, regrettable choices, questionable decisions... and a person finds themselves a single parent. Thank God for those individuals, who live up to and step up into their responsibilities to raise their children as best they are able. They are worthy of love and appreciation, and their struggles are formidable, and long-lasting, as they parent that baby into adulthood.
Childtrends.com states Data from a national survey indicate that more than half (58 percent) of all non-marital births in 2006-2010 occurred within cohabiting unions, although there is substantial variation by racial and ethnic group, age, and poverty status. Among Hispanic and white women, 68 percent of all non-marital births occurred within cohabiting unions, compared with only 35 and 45 percent, respectively, among black and Asian women.
I want to speak to those couples who, legally married, or not, are fulfilling, in every way, the role of parents to their children. They are setting up house, and a nurturing, stable, loving environment for their children. They are living the example of committed, mature, responsible co-parenting, in spite of the odds.
So often we hear about our young people burdening the government rolls, sponging off subsidies, and even making babies as a form of income. That is not the entire spectrum, and it is high-time that another side of life is shown, heralded, and uplifted in society.
In a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2014, 25,025 black babies were born in the State of Louisiana. A captivating question is just how many of those live births were to married, or unmarried, couples in committed relationships. Noteworthy, according to CDC.gov, is that the birth rate for unmarried women fell, nationally, for the sixth consecutive year, to 43.9 per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15–44 in 2014. The number of non-marital births increased 1% from 2013 to 1,604,870 births in 2014. The percentage of births to unmarried women was down 1%, to 40.2% in 2014.
Parenthetically, what is alarming is that Shreveport has the highest premature birth rate in the nation. Louisiana has ranked among the bottom two or three states in the nation in prematurity and infant mortality rates. The March of Dimes gave Louisiana a grade of “F” concerning the problem. According to their 2015 PREMATURE BIRTH REPORT CARD. Louisiana 12.3% Preterm Birth Rate grade was that F. Shreveport itself showed Shreveport 18.8% of the Louisiana total. This number remains high, though it is lower than the 2013 report.
Co-parenting households have a significant role in the betterment of the lives of the children born to them. Single parents have it even harder on their own, so it seems, if safe, and practical, to make efforts to create that family structure for the benefit of all concerned.
It’s unbelievably had for single parents to meet the challenges, responsibilities, and obligations of raising healthy kids. It would appear that teamwork makes that load lighter.
This Black History Month, let’s also commend those family structures who team it up, to get it done. We are, as a culture, as resilient as that violet in the driest desert, yet we survive, and thrive. When we work together, is the result not better for us as a people?