Study after study tells us there are three simple rules for any young person who wishes to avoid poverty (and who wouldn’t want to avoid poverty?). Here they are:
1. Finish high school
2. Obtain—and keep—a full-time job of any kind
3. Wait until marriage for children
If someone—from any economic background—keeps all three of these simple rules, this person has less than a 2% chance of facing poverty.
Of course, this is easy to say, but what are we in the pregnancy help community to do when faced with a young woman (and a man, too, in many cases) who fell short on waiting until marriage for children?
The abortion industry says it has an answer: End the pregnancy (which is its answer to everything). They will tell us all will be fine, and the next child can be “planned.” But we know abortion causes deeper, more destructive issues, issues a balanced checkbook cannot solve.
But what is our answer? While we cannot suddenly fix a situation where someone has not waited until marriage for children (although our sexual integrity initiatives are helping to prevent this), what do we do when an unmarried woman comes to us with an unplanned pregnancy? Let’s look at all three rules again.
On Rule #1, many pregnancy help ministries assist clients as they seek to finish high school, and we partner with other organizations in this effort, too. We can do better, but we’re trying.
The bigger challenge comes with rules 2 and 3. A child is a full-time job. While one can have a full-time job and be a parent at the same time, everything begins to break down when marriage is not in the picture.
A single mom with a full-time job is saddled with exorbitant childcare costs or is at the mercy of grandparents for help. It’s no wonder so many single moms are on public assistance.
We assist single moms as much as we can; through classes, mentoring and resources. All of this is good.
But reading Jen Taggart’s article on the Carolina Pregnancy Center’s Dad to Dad initiative, one sentence captured me. Actually, it was only two words.
Telling the story of Mike, a client of the Dad to Dad program, Jen writes that Mike’s life changed for the better “when Mike’s girlfriend (now wife), ‘Melissa,’ a client at the Carolina Pregnancy Center, heard about the center’s Dad-to-Dad program and recommended it to Mike.”
Did you see the two words, in parentheses? “Now wife.”
Let’s get this out there before I go further. I am not saying every unplanned pregnancy must result in marriage. I’m not even saying every marriage coming about through an unplanned pregnancy means a couple will avoid poverty. Not at all.
When a man engages in his child’s life through marriage, the odds are better for the child. In addition, the odds are better for a man who now sees himself as responsible for more than just his own well-being. And yes, the odds of that family avoiding poverty go up.
Tweet This: When a man engages in his child’s life through marriage, the odds are better for the child. @KirkWalden #prolife
I’ve written on this subject before so I’m probably repeating myself with the following question:
“Are we in the pregnancy help community proactive enough in engaging the fathers we have the opportunity to reach?”
In keeping with the first question, “Are we proactive enough in presenting marriage as an option to those we see?”
Let’s also remember there is another option here for the single birth mother; adoption. For those who appear headed to single-parenting, are we purposeful enough and regularly training ourselves to effectively present adoption?
Again, no one is saying every child should either be born into a two-parent home or be placed for adoption. But are we doing all we can do? Just a thought.
Back to the dads. I’ve been told many times, “We can’t get the dads to come in.” I get it. But are we constantly praying about this? Are we finding webinars, attending workshops, calling those ministries having success in these areas for advice and counsel? Or are we throwing up our hands and saying, “What can we do?”
Here’s a question which cuts to the core: “Is my ministry willing to spend the money to find an answer we can implement?” I’m not saying money automatically means an answer or even that with a few thousand dollars we could purchase a perfect program. But, there are ministries having success in these areas, such as Carolina Pregnancy Center. Would our ministry be willing to send two men to a successful center for a week to learn what is working?
I’ve also been told, “We just don’t have the money.” It’s about priorities, isn’t it? If building two-parent families (through adoption or marriage) is a priority, we will do anything to find the funding to bring in a Fatherhood Coordinator, to advertise our new initiative, to train more mentors and to bring in adoption agencies to train our people regularly.
Again, priorities. Many pregnancy help ministries are adding mobile units, which is exciting. A mobile unit is about $150,000; then we need staffing, supplies, insurance and more. Why do we invest these funds? Because this is a priority. Or, perhaps the priority is STI testing, a new facility or something else.
The interesting thing is, we invest these funds not because we have money left over, but because we see a priority and find a way to stretch ourselves to implement a new initiative.
This column is not about choosing between a mobile unit or reaching fathers. It’s not about STI testing or two-parent families. Not at all.
The point is, if fathers, or adoption, or simply, “two-parent families” becomes a priority, we will find a way to fund it, whatever it takes.
We’ve done this with ultrasound, with our facilities, with marketing and so much more.
Let’s do the same for the dream of more two-parent families.
Now that Father’s Day is behind us until next year, perhaps we need to stretch ourselves again. To those of us who are already pushing ourselves to reach dads and to better present the adoption option, let’s keep up the great work.
And for those of us who can’t seem to find traction on this, let’s make “two parents” a new priority. If we do, perhaps next year we will celebrate a Father’s Day beyond anything we could imagine.