Katie Roiphe\'s defense of single motherhood has sparked an online conversation on the topic of what makes a family.

Katie Roiphe's defense of single motherhood in the New York Times has sparked an online conversation on the topic of what makes a family.

Koiphe urged readers to examine the broader meanings of what family can encompass. "Conservatives obsess over moral decline, and liberals worry extravagantly — and one could argue condescendingly — about children, but all exhibit a fundamental lack of imagination about what family can be — and perhaps more pressingly — what family is," Roiphe said. "We now live in a country in which 53 percent of the babies born to women under 30 are born to unmarried mothers."

That fact may be true, but these statistics still hew to the conventional meaning of family, Bella Depaulo, at Psych Central, noted. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau, Depaulo said, defines family as "a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together."

The demise of two-parent families has been an economic catastrophe for American society, Kay S. Hymowitz reported last June. Of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83 percent are headed by single mothers, the U.S. census found. Virtually all the increase in child poverty in the U.S. since the 1970s would vanish if people still married at 1970s rates, the Brookings Institution's Isabel Sawhill calculated.

"If young people do three things — graduate from high school, get a job and get married and wait until they're 21 before having a baby — they have an almost 75% chance of making it into the middle class," Ron Haskins of the Pew Center on the States' Economic Mobility Project said.

"Those are pretty impressive odds," Hymowitz observed in the Los Angeles Times.

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at or visit