Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Cohabiting…With Children

@FromaHarrop

I know a woman. Works like a dog. She’s a loving mother, raising a lovable boy. She’s also a good businesswoman, running a successful salon.

But she’s not married to the father, though he lives with her… year after year. As for work, he does a little bit of this and a little bit of that. She pays most of the bills and scrounges for childcare. His parents, meanwhile, have a grandkid to play with.

Cohabiting with children is a growing trend among American families, particularly for whites and Hispanics. It now accounts for 59 percent of births outside marriage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Call me old-fashioned, but for most working women, shacking up with the father of their kids is a life of unfair drudgery.

In many cases, it is more unfair than single motherhood. In addition to childcare, the cohabiting woman is burdened with man care. She’s providing the comforts of home, hearth and family. He, meanwhile, has the freedom to move on to new pastures without even having to call a lawyer.

Calm down, will ya? OK, I’m calm.

More than a quarter of American children are now being born to couples living together without marriage. This is the highest rate ever and double what it was a decade ago.

(You’ll never guess which state has the highest percentage of cohabiting parents. South Dakota, at 46 percent.)

Although this sounds like a more stable home life for children than the single-parent household, it’s only marginally so, The Wall Street Journal reports. Interestingly, the share of children being born out of wedlock without a father at home has shrunk a little.

Jane Waldfogel, who teaches social work at Columbia University, told the Journal that for kids, the instability and uncertainty of living with cohabiting parents “is in some ways closer to single parenthood than it is to marriage.”

Cohabiting parents can break up so much more easily than married ones. No doubt some couples choose this arrangement specifically to keep that door ajar — the well-being of children no longer serving as a lock.

The frequent excuse is that Mom and Dad aren’t financially and emotionally ready to get married. (But they are financially and emotionally ready to have children, right?) Many of our longest-lasting marriages were embarked upon by couples who were dead broke, but what did they know?

We understand, this is the land of countless variation. I know two old hippies who have been living together for decades, devoted to each other and their children, and sharing the work. They are a cohabiting model but the exception, according to sociologists.

There are many marriages in which all the heavy lifting falls on her. And somewhere in America there is a cohabiting father who performs all the child rearing, breadwinning and floor sweeping while the lady’s at home doing her nails.

Sometimes it’s the mother who declares her desire not to be tied down to a guy — though that often sounds like bravado. The great majority of Americans say they want marriage. In the bar pickup culture, the mother with children at home is a more complicated prospect than the father going back to his bachelor pad.

As expected, the higher you move up the economic and educational ladder the stronger the insistence on getting married before having children. The financial advantage marriage confers on these families may not be the only reason for America’s widening wealth gap, but it’s a significant one.

Cohabitation with children may look similar to marriage with children, but it’s usually a weak substitute. Expect more of it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: Kate LaPine via Wikimedia Commons

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)