Mothers with four or more years of college tend to wait until marriage before giving birth (68 per cent) followed by mothers with one to three years of college (33 per cent), and mothers with a high school diploma (29 per cent). Lastly, among mothers with no high school diploma, only 13 per cent waited to get married before they had their first child.However, all is not well either amongst the best educated. Another Daily Mail post tells the story of a English mother with five well-educated sons who is surprised by how reluctant her sons are to marry and support a wife. She writes:
Born in 1960, I was brought up to believe that being a good wife and mother was the best life could offer us. My own mother would say to me: ‘To go to sleep in the arms of the man you love, to wake up at his side, to bring up children with him, this is what makes a life worth living.’
One of her son's girlfriends confided in her that she had similar beliefs:
Not so long ago, the girlfriend of one of my sons confided in me while clearing away Sunday lunch that what she really wanted — despite being a lawyer with a top firm in London — was to live in a cottage in the country and have lots of children.
She wanted to spend her days reading stories to them, making jam and chutney, having long walks in the middle of the day, and feel somehow that she was alive.
But her sons are generally against this kind of family idyll:
Will and his brother Tom, 30, my eldest, are positively vituperative in their avoidance of a life filled with nappies. Well-educated, kind and polite they may be, but they’d do anything rather than settle down and have babies.
Tom...baulked at the very question.
‘I hate that word “marriage”,’ he told me. ‘Marriage belongs to another era. I prefer the word “partnership” because that’s what it should be, a partnership of equals right from the start. Both man and woman should contribute financially to the home, and both should do domestic work.
‘What really annoys me is when the woman has children and somehow thinks it’s all right to skive and stay at home with them. ‘The baby should be sent to a nursery as soon as possible and the woman should get back to work. Aren’t women supposed to have the same aspirations in their careers as men? Then they should prove it and not expect a whole year’s maternity leave. It’s scandalous!’
The mum does an OK job of thinking through why her sons might have such attitudes:
Perhaps it’s no wonder. For so long, women have insisted that they can be just like the boys. So can we really be surprised when our young men refuse to countenance treating their female partners differently from how they are treated themselves?
If it's drummed constantly into men that there are no differences between the sexes, and that there are no sex roles tied to masculinity or femininity, then why would young men think of supporting a wife to be at home? Her son Tom has so much bought into this reigning principle that he even hates the word "marriage," presumably as he associates it with differences between the sexes. He prefers the word "partnership".
I suspect too that the reluctance to commit stems from how late in life upper class people tend to marry. It means that the more solid of young men can be shunned by their female peers in their teens and early 20s, only to become a sought after commodity in their late 20s or 30s. I'm not sure the "make him wait while I play around and then give him endless options when I really need him" is a great strategy for women to pursue.
And if a society wants men to take on the stresses and strains of supporting a family, in order to create a more protected space for women to raise their children, then there has to be a more positive attitude to the role of men in society. Less emphasis on men as enemies of women; less emphasis on the idea that men are privileged oppressors holding back the advance of working women; and more recognition of the sacrifices that men traditionally made for the benefit of their families.