But by the '60s, government workers went door-to-door in urban communities and elsewhere urging unmarried mothers to sign up for benefits, thus "marrying" the government. Almost 75 percent of today's black children are born outside of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites. As recently as 1963 -- five decades ago -- those numbers for blacks were 23.6 percent. As for whites at that time, fewer than 3 percent were born outside of wedlock.
By 1965 -- just two years later -- out-of-wedlock births by black women had increased to 28 percent. By 1970, it had jumped to 38 percent. In the '80s, it rose to 50 percent, and by the '90s, the black out-of-wedlock birthrate exceeded 70 percent.
What to do?
We know that government welfare damages individual initiative and personal responsibility. After the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, the welfare rolls declined by half! The needy can and should be helped at the state and local level, ideally by nonprofits, religious institutions, self-help organizations and mentors.
A counselor recently wrote me. She asked not to be identified, fearing a backlash because of her condemnation of the bad choices women make in male partners. She argued that if women demanded more of themselves, men would get the message -- and they would be forced to behave more responsibly. To do otherwise, she says, is to behave selfishly -- for responsible parenting requires selflessness:
"No one is putting a gun to women's heads and making them have intercourse with unworthy men prior to marriage. It is done willingly, leads to a life from hell and harms everyone involved, even the bum who has no motivation to shape up since he is afforded all the reward a good, respectable, hardworking husband would get without having to be a good, respectable, hardworking husband.
"The term 'father' used to be considered synonymous with the man who, in this order, a) courted a woman, b) married a woman, c) impregnated a woman, and d) stayed around for the next 20 years paying the bills, playing catch, disciplining the kids and loving the mom. Now, mere siring or donating sperm to the creation of a kid is called 'fathering,' when it's barely more than breeding. It cheapens the meaning of the word 'father.'
"Now picture this: If all women, black or white or whatever race, said to black men, 'No marriage, sex, children or home-cooked food without toil and solid achievement first,' do you really think any lowered bars that had been established would have stopped black men from achieving the finances and success required for romance? I don't. They'd be working hard, wanting to get the top score and wanting to outshine others."
No romance without finance -- because dads matter.