Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage / Edition 3

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Millie Acevedo bore her first child before the age of 16 and dropped out of high school to care for her newborn. Now 27, she is the unmarried mother of three and is raising her kids in one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Would she and her children be better off if she had waited to have them and had married their father first? Why do so many poor American youth like Millie continue to have children before they can afford to take care of them?

Over a span of five years, sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas talked in-depth with 162 low-income single moms like Millie to learn how they think about marriage and family. Promises I Can Keep offers an intimate look at what marriage and motherhood mean to these women and provides the most extensive on-the-ground study to date of why they put children before marriage despite the daunting challenges they know lie ahead.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Seeking to identify the forces behind the trend for young (and often impoverished) women to become (and remain) unmarried mothers, sociologists Edin (Univ. of Pennsylvania) and Kefalas (St. Joseph's Univ.) interviewed some 162 low-income residents in poor urban areas of Philadelphia and Camden, NJ. In their cogent and persuasive explanation of this lifestyle, they focus on four young women-Deena, Dominique, Mahkiya, and Jen-who, when they became pregnant, chose motherhood without marriage over abortion or adoption. Despite being young and poor, these women believe that caring for their children has added meaning to their otherwise diminished lives. The women relate personal stories and decisions that reflect factors in the changing role of women since the 1950s: a redefinition of marriage, the sexual revolution, and growing acceptance of cohabitation, all in a world of increasing inequalities in income and wealth. These women may struggle on the lower rung, but they remain firmly committed single parents. This thought-provoking book is highly recommended for academics, professionals, and public libraries.-Suzanne W. Wood, formerly with SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfred Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520271463
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Edition description: With a New Preface
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 308
  • Sales rank: 149,775
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Edin is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and coauthor of Making Ends Meet (1997). Maria Kefalas is Professor of Sociology at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Working-Class Heroes (California, 2003).

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Table of Contents

Preface to the 2011 Edition


1. “Before We Had a Baby . . .”
2. “When I Got Pregnant . . .”
3. How Does the Dream Die?
4. What Marriage Means
5. Labor of Love
6. How Motherhood Changed My Life
Conclusion: Making Sense of Single Motherhood

Appendix A: City, Neighborhood, and Family Characteristics and Research Methods
Appendix B:
Interview Guide


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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012


    While some of the findings were rather interesting, the writing is atrocious. The book consists of six chapters, all of which are redundant and constantly overlap. There was no organization, which makes understanding their main points confusing with all of the circular logic. There were never any conclusions drawn about how exactly these women should be helped, but the book does help to explain why these women make certain decisions. Such as why they have children so young, do not wish to become married, and have such a difficult time finding jobs. While very sad and very enlightening, this book would have been much more powerful had it been better written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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