In September, novelist Maryann Reid and Rev. Herbert Daughtry made the dream of marriage a reality for 10 lucky couples. Hundreds of couples who already had children together and who hoped to marry “someday” responded to a contest. The prize: ten all-expenses-paid weddings, presided over by Rev. Daughtry. This contest was aimed at African-American couples, and most of the couples and wedding-makers were black. The idea, though, is a good one for the whole nation to ponder and pursue.
The single most urgent family problem is to get single moms to marry their baby daddies.
(That’s what I think today, anyway. I am still puzzling on this.)
In the long run we need to create a culture which authoritatively supports marriage and careful childrearing. In the short run, though, we already have couples who have children and plan to marry someday, in the pie-in-the-sky future.
Communities could make this dream of marriage a reality. All they need is the wedding.
Suppose every congregation in town agreed to take part in a “Marry Your Baby Daddy Day” – or “Parents’ Wedding Day,” or “Mommy and Daddy Get Married Day,” or whatever name works best. Each minister would agree to perform the wedding, and members of the congregation would find a way to get the dress, the cake, the rings, the flowers, the pictures, the reception, and so forth, and do it nicely. As with the original Marry Your Baby Daddy Day, there could be a contest – which would itself get many couples to get down to cases about getting married, even if they didn’t win the contest. On that happy day, the front-page news would be that the whole community had worked together to make marriage dreams come true for the couples and, especially, for their children.
Promoting marriage among parents would, I am convinced, pay for itself in happier and healthier grownups, and better cared for kids. Men, who would probably resist the idea the most at first, would benefit the most in the end. Yes, we should build in a marriage preparation course, even for cohabiting couples with kids. Yes, we should screen out likely wife-beaters, and get them some other kind of help. Yes, we would probably need to reach beyond each congregation to find the money. But it would be worth it.
The spin-off benefit of a community Marry Your Baby Daddy Day would be to make clear how much the community as a whole supported marriage for all children’s parents – not just those who think they can afford a wedding.