I’m not a ‘worse’ person because my parents aren’t married

They’re the happiest couple I know

There’s a nice headline on page 11 of The Daily Mail today, which goes like: “What a shock! Children who have married parents thrive”.

Beneath the smug dig, the article explains that a major government report has found that children do worse if they are brought up by a lone parent, or by parents who are not married. Apparently the report presents powerful fresh evidence that a couple that commits to each other with a wedding is more likely to have a successful family.

A happy family

A happy family

The Office for National Statistics estimates that 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce, and over 130,000 marriages broke down in 2013, the last year for which figures are available. Meanwhile, the number of couples living together and having children has more than doubled since the mid-1990s.

Now, my parents fall into the latter bracket. They’ve been together for 35 years, they’ve had two kids, and somehow they manage to watch Countryfile every Sunday night without killing each other. Together, they’ve steered two irritating children through all the big dramas of individuation – you know, being a teenager, knockabout encounters with alcohol, sex, drugs, the occasional bout of illness – and made it through, all without a ring on the other’s finger, or some tax breaks. They’re by far the happiest couple I know: the most secure, the least likely to breakdown.

You, the government, its researchers, can hand me the fattest wedge of data, the lengthiest reports to show that children born “out of wedlock” (lol) won’t thrive or be successful. Fine. I’ll still call bullshit.

Because I know what every other kid from a home like this knows – marriage isn’t important any more. It doesn’t confer legitimacy on anything. It’s an outdated, likely flawed concept. It’s expensive to do, creates pressure to maintain, and is almost always about pleasing other people, rather than making the couple at the heart of it happy.

Today, 40 per cent of children in the west are born “illegitimately”. It’s a number that continues to rise. Justin Bieber is one of them, and I feel like us bastards are going to turn out more like him than Jon Snow.

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