Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage / Edition 1

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"Over a span of five years, sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas talked in-depth with 162 low-income single moms 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." "Edin and Kefalas show that poor women do not reject marriage; on the contrary, they revere it. But marriage is an elusive goal, and many poor women believe they have little to lose by bearing children at a young age. Ultimately, it is the high value they place on children, combined with the fear that an enduring marriage is beyond their grasp, that leads women to pursue motherhood before marriage." Promises I Can Keep argues that until poor young women and men have greater access to jobs that lead to financial security - that is, until they can hope for a rewarding life outside of bearing and raising children - they will continue to have children far sooner than most Americans think they should, and in less than ideal circumstances. As pressing policy issues and the larger public debate about the decline of "family values" intensify, this book provides an original and nuanced understanding of single parenting and the poor.
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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.
From the Publisher

"A seminal book."--Time Magazine
Time Magazine
“A seminal book.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520241138
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Edin is 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

Foreword by Frank Furstenberg


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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2005

    Are you kidding me????????????

    I know one of the woman you wrote about and she did not put motherhood before marriage. They both do hard core drugs and they chose that over their children. They gave up their rights and a great grandparent is taking care of these wonderful children. I see them when I can and I am not a relative. They are lucky to have extended family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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