TEENS: When the phrase "unwed mothers" is discussed, many automatically think of out-of-wedlock teen births. The truth is that the birthrate among girls under age 20 dropped in 2016 to the lowest level on record. The rise in birthrate among unmarried women rose most dramatically among women from ages 20 to 29.
The number of births to unmarried women has been on the rise for the past 10 years. In 2014, more than 1.5 million babies were born to unmarried women in the United States. Governmental health officials announced that the number of babies born to unwed mothers recently rose to an all-time high. Nearly 40 percent of all babies born in the United States in 2007 were out of wedlock.
Experts feel that this overall trend is due to three major factors. First, having a baby without the benefit of marriage is more accepted today than it was even 20 years ago. Next, many women are putting off getting married but still want children. Finally, living together without a marriage certificate is an easy way to become an unwed mom.
GRANDMA HAS A SHARP TONGUE
DR. WALLACE: About three months ago, my grandpa passed away, and about a month ago, Grandma (my mom's mother) came to live with us. When she wasn't living with us, I really enjoyed being around Grandma, but since she moved in with us, she has been a huge pain. Her main problem is that she sees everything negatively. My clothes are too sexy, my hair has no body, my room is too messy, I eat too much junk food, I drive too fast, and I don't study enough.
I've talked to my mom about Grandma's negative attitude, but Mom always says, "Grandma is just trying to make you a better person." It's as if I'm not a good person. I'm a B+ student, vice president of my junior class, and I'm truly not one ounce overweight. I play varsity basketball, and I sing in the concert choir.
Also, grandma doesn't like my boyfriend because he has long hair. It apparently doesn't matter that he's an excellent student and he's the very best boyfriend a girl ever had. He treats me right, gets good grades and is quite responsible.
Last night, my boyfriend was over to our house to borrow a book, and my grandmother asked him if he was having sex with her granddaughter. I couldn't believe my ears! I told grandma, "Hey now, you're out of line here," and then she did stop and actually apologized to him. I was literally in shock with what she said to him, so I just blurted out the "out-of-line" comment. Well, there's more. Right after she apologized to my boyfriend, she turned and looked at me with narrowed eyes and said, "Let this be the last time you ever sass me." Then she went to her room and closed it so hard that it shook the whole hallway. This morning at breakfast, she refused to talk to me, and tonight at dinner, she also still wouldn't talk to me, not even one word.
My mom refuses to get involved, even though I have asked her what I should do next. Please give me your thoughts on all of this. — Cold-Shouldered, Buffalo, New York
COLD-SHOULDERED: I'm a big fan of grandmothers. Most, if not essentially all of them, are wonderful people who usually have special relationships with their grandchildren. However, there are a few who just don't know when to bite their tongues. This situation falls into the latter category.
Your grandmother's comment to your boyfriend was uncalled for and completely off the mark. She owes you an apology. It's up to your mother to speak to your grandmother and put a stop to such comments. For your part, in the meantime, speak respectfully to your grandmother in a nice tone of voice — whether or not she responds to you. I trust she will reply to you soon enough, and when she does, do your best to sustain the goodwill it brings. Tell her you can appreciate that she is trying to look out for you, but add that you need some space to make your own decisions. Seek harmony in the way you feel she will be able to receive it best.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.