In the family life class this week we are discussing Promises I Can Keep, a fine study of poor single mothers. It is so hard for my class of bourgeois people who plan their entire lives to comprehend having a baby at 15. What is harder to comprehend is that most of the mothers said that their babies were neither planned nor unplanned. Living a life without planning is through-the-looking-glass for people like my students (and me) for whom deferred gratification is one of the top seven habits of our fairly effective lives.
Which led to an interesting discussion about which way of viewing the world - planning or not planning parenthood - was the odder. From the social world of the college-going class, not planning is odd. But we realized that from the perspective of most people in the world, and most people who have ever lived, the idea of tightly controlled and limited fertility is supremely odd.
Planning parenthood is very unnatural. Planning parenthood is a great achievement of civilization. Civilization, though, has developed one crucial brake and help that the poor single mothers we are studying skipped: get married first.