Unwed and Imperturbed

The advice columns of newspapers are good windows into the conscience of a culture. There you will find a field guide to what is considered socially acceptable and unacceptable. One of the advice columnists for the Washington Post, Carolyn Hax, is consistently sensible and solid in her suggestions. Straightening out busybodies, drug abusers, interfering in-laws, and ungrateful children with equal aplomb, she’s usually a pleasant read with the morning coffee.

But not always. A recent response to a letter from “Grandmother-to-be” provides an example of the collapse of social wisdom on the subject of marriage and childbearing. “My 26-year-old son’s girlfriend — of four months — is pregnant,” wrote Grandma. “I have very mixed emotions about this, mainly because he just met her, and I do not know her. They work and live across the country. I am disappointed in their behavior. How do I tell my friends the news? I am embarrassed.”

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