KYW Regional Affairs Council
By Hadas Kuznits
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In this third part of the series, we examine unwed parenting and the potential impact on the children involved.
For 27 years, Ellen Gayda, a Malvern-based therapist (top photo), raised a family with her boyfriend. She recalls the first time her daughter asked her about her wedding — the one she never had.
“At first I think I was avoiding the question because she was young,” Gayda says. “She was only about 13.”
But she says when her daughter eventually realized that mom and dad weren’t actually married, nothing changed.
“I think she was just disappointed that I didn’t have some fabulous wedding dress,” Gayda notes.
Dr. Charles Williams, assistant clinical professor at Drexel University’s school of education, says marriage is not the most important thing when it comes to raising a healthy, well adjusted child.
“To a child, family means, ‘I’m safe, secure, there’s consistency, and they let me know in a very obvious and appropriate way that they love me.’ That is what family means to a child.”
Dr. Stephen Treat with the Council For Relationships in Philadelphia, says parents, married or not, need emotional tools.
“If you live together with someone for ten years in a committed way, or you’ve been married to someone for ten years in a committed way, you’re probably dealing with the same kinds of dynamics and the same kinds of issues,” he notes, “and you need the same kinds of skills to make it work.”
And Williams, the Drexel professor, thinks unmarried, committed parenting is not necessarily a bad scenario.
“If I think about my training in psychotherapy, there are many people who get married who shouldn’t get married,” he says. “There are many people who feel pressured to get married. And the impact on the child can be significant.”
Listen to Part 3…