Currently, there is an increasingly large number of children born out of wedlock as well as single parents raising children throughout most of the world. It is much more common in this day in age to see children who were raised by a single parent. This could in part be due to the increasing number of divorces, but also, there is more of a cultural norm and a greater acceptance of this trend. It is also much more common to see smaller families. The table below shows a few worldwide statistics concerning some of these trends mentioned earlier. It does a good job of illustrating these trends by countries. For instance, births outside of marriages and single parents raising children are very low of the Middle East but much more common in the US.
Trends within the Middle East are somewhat uniform, but do vary from country to country. Due to unemployment, there has been a rise in single households because of one parent going overseas for work. Also, the Middle East tends to be a but more conservative on their views of these issues.
Religion does play somewhat of a role in these trends. In Islam, children are not looked down upon if born out of wedlock. Scriptures say that they do not share in the sin of their parents and that they should be treated equally. However, this is not condoned and the parents are looked down upon for this.
Similar to Islam, Judaism says that children born out of wedlock bear no stigma unless they were born out of an illegal affair, such as incest or adultery. Once again, these actions are not condoned, but Judaism does not give much guidance on these topics. These ideas mirror what is going on in Israel.
In Israel today, there is a greater acceptance of single moms. For example, in 2006, more than 600 women came together to form a single mothers movement and protest that raised awareness of the importance of acceptance. Also, in the past decade, there has been an increasing number of single parents and a decreasing number of family members per household. During this time period, the number of children born out of wedlock and raised by single parents almost doubled.
In Lebanon, the issue becomes more complex due to some of the rules laid down by the government. Women are greatly looked down upon for having a child out of wedlock. For mothers who accidentally get pregnant, the decision about what to do is even harder because abortion is illegal. If the mother chooses to keep the child and she is not married, she is not able to register her child. Also, in order for the child to become a citizen, the father has to be Lebanese and admit and accept the child. These things could be part of the reason why single moms are more rare and why children raised by single parents is not as common as in many other places in the world.
Saudi Arabia appears to lie on an extreme end of the spectrum. Children born to unmarried parents are seen as the “seed of the devil” and looked down upon by a majority of the population. The views on these issues are institutionalized by the government. Parents of children born out of wedlock, single parents, and they’r children are all stigmatized and looked down upon. It is a very rough life for these people living in Saudi Arabia.
The other end of the spectrum seems to be where the United States falls. The US has the third highest proportion of children with single parents. These trends could partly be attributed to the high divorce rate and low cohabitation rate exhibited in the country. Teen pregnancy is also a lot more common, which would also contribute to these trends. Single parents are not looked down upon and it is pretty common to see children born outside of marriage. This is true not only for young parents, but also for older couples, who possibly might not be getting married due to money problems or just because it is no longer a necessity to be married when you have children.
It is clear by these examples that due to how society views these trends, they are much more common in certain areas than others. Despite the global increase in these trends, some areas such as the Middle East still exhibit low frequencies of children born out of wedlock and single parents.