Thursday, March 19, 2009

Baby Daddy Nation

When I was 16, my mother wouldn't allow me to attend a baby shower for a fellow teen who was unwed but expecting. I didn't want to go anyway. There are never any cute boys at a baby shower... except for the guy who has already knocked somebody up.

Mom believed, and rightly so, that a bridal shower should have been held first. But that was 1981. These days most girls don't want a maternity wedding dress.

In fact, 40% of recent US births have been to out-of-wedlock mommies. Americans seem to be shocked. I'm shocked too but for a different reason: I thought the number would be higher.

For the last few years, I have been taking an informal survey. From various comedy club stages across this great country of ours, I "interview" the audience during the course of my comedy set. The overwhelming majority of 20-something women I encounter have given birth before walking down the aisle. This disturbing piece of information prompted me to write the joke, "I love brides these days because they come with their own little flower girl."

(Of course, the survey is not exactly scientific. A typical comedy club audience might skew higher on the illegitimacy scale-- there might be a higher incidence of out-of-wedlock birth among a cohort that likes to drink beer and listen to dick jokes in public. Even controlling for that, the figures seem high.)

What's even more fascinating is that when they do decide to take the marital plunge, they often jump in with a man who is not the baby's father. It appears, America, we are officially a nation of step-daddies.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing. I'd like to think that all men have a little Mike Brady in them, but I fear many non-bio dads are more like the prowling tomcat who kills all the kittens so momcat will be ready to make more balls of squirming fur.

Besides, if step-dad is taking on all the responsibility of child rearing what role will actual dad have in a kid's life.

Ah, the blended family. In a perfect world, more family members would mean more people to love a child. Sadly, I think the blended family only means more people a kid can grow up to resent.

1 comment:

valjean said...


Found your blog via Ed. Great stuff, please keep it up.

As a new daddy of twins (born 7 years after wedlock, thanks very much) I can paint a pretty bleak potential picture of step-dads. I think this is due to the simple fact that parenting ... is ... HARD. I'm pretty laid-back and my daughters are two of the mellowest, cutest, smartest and most well-behaved darlings in the child universe but of course there are plenty of times when they make me grind my teeth. I can say without hesitation that nothing kicks in my patience and understanding gear more than "she's my daughter."

If she were not (biologically), I'm pretty certain I wouldn't find that gear quite so quickly. It appears -- to me -- to be a pretty direct correlation. No doubt loving a little darling's mom is helpful -- but she's not always there when you're changing a nasty diaper at 3 AM and the little darling is screaming her head off.