Becoming a Dad Article

If You Are Not Married

Are you married? If not, you have lots of company, and additional challenges. About a third of babies are born to parents who are not married. About half of these parents are living together and another third are romantically involved but living apart.

Roughly three quarters of both new moms and dads report an even chance or better of getting married. While some feel good about their relationship and see no reason to marry, most plan to do so with a child in the picture.

However, like your married counterparts, you and your mate are likely oblivious, at this point, to the divisive impact a child will probably have on your relationship. And since yours is inherently weaker on average than those with a legal commitment, you face bigger risks.

No, you don't have to get married; that is entirely up to you and your mate. But given the circumstances, you should want to work hard to build your relationship. With mom focused on the baby, the ball is mainly in your court.

Ask yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your partnership. What has kept you from getting married? Most unwed moms report the barrier to be the economic stability and emotional maturity of their mates. If this is you, it's time to step up.

How about you? Not ready to settle down? Want to wait until . . .? Is she nagging you about . . .? Bottom line is, ready or not, you are going to be a father and she will be the mother of your child - for life. The picture has changed and so will your relationship, for better or worse.

Not responding is like sailing into a storm without battening down the hatches. The forecast for sinking is high. The prospects for your baby bringing you closer together are also high, if you take advantage of this important opportunity.

Being unmarried, she will even be more concerned about whether you will be there for her and the baby. People around her will ask her whether you will stick around. Expectatinos for you might be low, so if you do respond and step up, it will be a pleasant surprise that will score big points. You will find her response gratifying; it is nice to be appreciated.

As she sees you caring for and playing with your baby, she will know that her baby has a father who will be ther. More big points, and another reason for her to love you. It's a great opportunity; you have nowhere to go but up.

I don't want some other guy raising my kid.
- Veteran Dad


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