We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, January 29. 2008
Many have commented on Kay Hymowitz' interesting but not overly-deep report in City Journal about the young single men of America - Child-Man in the Promised Land. A quote:
Of course it is a sort of extended adolescence - or at least of relative freedom from some of the big burdens of life. Shrinkwrapped finds the information to be as gloomy as does Hymowitz, but I am not so sure it really is. Our pediatrician used to say about our kids, "Don't worry. I can guarantee they will be out of diapers by age 18."
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Well that pretty much explains my lifestyle in my mid 20's. Didn't get married until 34, first kid at 37. I'm in my mid 40's now, still in good shape, happily married, great kids...not much regrets other then thinking that if I had started earlier my kids would just about be out of the house by now. Basically I enjoyed my golden years when I was more of a golden boy. There'll be plenty of time for post children fun in my mid 60's. Much different world then my parents who had me when they were 22. The mid 20's are the new teenage years but free of acne and excessive self conciousness, living on your own with a bit of cash...I had a freakin' blast in Hotlanta.
No different than my cohort. We were having too much fun and working too hard to marry young. Men and women in grad school and residencies or other clinical training thru late 20s, then work 16 hours a day and pay off student loans and save up for first place. Only married once we had got somewhere in our professions, sown our wild oats, and were out of debt and a little secure. Plus, better to party and exlore romantically before family while still young and cute than divorce after an early marriage and pathetically middleaged "what did I miss?" try to catch up.
Had my kids in early 30s, and had had enough fun before not to miss night life when engrossed in childrearing.
The only drawback to having a family late is the sneers and contempt of beautiful teenaged daughters for a 50 year old mom. Hard enough to be either invisible or dog meat [as many of us noncelebrity women my age feel in our youth obsessed society], but it's a double whammy having to endure obnoxious female adolescents at the same time.
Whereas, when I was about to go to college, my mother was barely 40, still gorgeous, and my parents still had years of relative youth and prosperity to enjoy together with us brats launched.
The problem with having a family late nowadays, in an economy where very few men can count on steady fulltime work past 40, is that the parents are left alone with each other right when both feel old, unattractive, their careers are failures, and nothing good lies ahead for them. Hence their turning on each other, and all those divorces after 20 or more years of marriage.
Maybe there are some happy couples over 50. I don't know any. Excepta few blissful second marriages [spiritual compatibility and great sex the key, they tell me..perhaps they are telling the truth?] at my church. The once and still married empty nesters are grim survivors. I can see why this would deter the alleycatting single young males from making a commitment.
For every happy Mr and Mrs Barrister cantering happily into their sunset years together, there are 30 couples who send the kids off to college and grit their teeth and pray for strength and courage to endure. If they don't just give up.
The best years of my life and in my marriage were in my 30s when I was happily at home, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. We had so much fun with the kids! Far more rewarding than my earlier professional work, and anything I do now. Perhaps it's time to adopt or foster some kids who need a loving mom or go back to working w kids in care? The world is full of desperate kids shed by the feckless and the abusive parents who never grew up themselves....
As for the guys that are the subject of attention today,, they may want to screw around indefinitely. I don't know what kind of bimbos with, as my girls find their male peers to be sleazy, immature and narcissistic, and eschew dating and hooking up altogether. Most of the intelligent young women I know are resigned to years of celibacy because the guys they meet are jerks. They and their friends are not gay, and they admire hot guys from a distance but they are resigned to waiting many years for a guy who is a grownup. The young girls I know would rather study and find a profession than be skanks.
The guys who have family as even a vague long term goal [and maybe they don't?]. should ponder the fact that it sucks dealing with teenagers when you are over 45.
Male or female.
As an NCO in the National Guard, I saw some incredibly immature 20 year-olds coming into our unit from training. We try to pound some sense into their heads, but damn, their parents could have done a little...
Maybe, NJS, but those kids were the good ones. At least they wanted to serve their country and not simply help themselves to life's goodies...
It must be rewarding when some of them shape up, tho! Especially the ones you had to work the hardest with....
I find that I do better working with other people's teenagers than staying calm and rational around my own...
No, I don't think you sound like a silly jerk at all. Believe me, I can appreciate what you are saying. I was actually responding to the original post, not you. I agree that if we have erred, it might be in making a choice that it is unfortunate anyone has to make, between one's marrisge and one's children, sometimes being overly concerned with our children. Then again, more involved fathers are usually a very good thing, especially for our daughters. When I was growing up I rarely if ever had any contact with my friend's fathers - most were blue collar workers - the mothers ran the show in my neighborhood. I agree stongly that it is best if one parent can stay home with the children - both my wife and I have done it, and it was worth every lost penny and then some.
If you have been working on college applications, you have every right to be as cranky as you please! Thank God we are two years away from the next one.
This seems a bit silly to me. Mark Twain thought men should travel, work, have fun and etc., and then settle down at 30, marry, have children, and write about all the fun you had in your twenties. This is what he did, which means he had to deal with teenagers when he was in his forties. I'm 55 and enjoy my teens (16 and 19) immensely.
On the other hand, my parents were married at 18, and had three children by the age of 25, which was also the age my father received his Ph.D. After their divorce, my father spent his forties living a life many young men choose to live in their 20's. Sorry, but I think living it up when you're young is better for families in the long run - almost all of my college frinds did this, and most are still married.
Scott, I mostly agree with you and probably sounded like a silly jerk My college and grad school friends and I all also married late, and are almost all still married to our first spouse. Like you, we do enjoy our kids a great deal. And yet we are hitting the wall, now, tho to differing degrees... college applications' cheerleading and badgering for two kids in one year have just made me crankier than usual!
My parents got engaged after two days, married in 4 months when my mother was 20 (dropped out of college to marry) and dad 23 and off to boot camp (drafted) and stayed together devotedly, still in love, 52 mostly happy years until death parted them. Despite chronic illness. The difference is that my parents' generation, after initial trials like separations because of military service (Korea) eventually had more fun, less financial and career anxiety, and could travel and enjoy their 30 empty nest years a great deal more than our generation. My parents and their friends were untouched by the selfcentered BS of the 60s and 70s. They stayed married, travelled together, worked as a team for the husband's career success, and didn't worry unduly about their kids. Some of us kids came to serious grief, but did well enough professionally to pay for much psychiatry later on.... That sorta, maybe, okay really helped. People enjoy mocking us for this, but bear in mind that Woody Allen's depiction of Annie Hall's screwed up Wasp family strikes familiar chords with many of us....Nevertheless, I was raised on a fairy tale view of happily ever after marriage that was really about as realistic as those "historical documents" in Galaxyquest!
Only time will tell if their greater focus on their marriages or my cohort's greater focus on the children will turn out to have been a better choice....I think that middle class children of married parents who can afford to have one spouse at home receive somewhat better parenting now, from more involved parents, but that the parents' marriages are far less happy. This may simply be because of less job security, more layoffs of middle aged people, etc. rather than to different priorities within the home? These stresses haven't been lost on our children, some of whom are determined to do better than us, and others who just say "No way, I'd rather stay footloose and fancy free for good..."
Enough rambling, off to check a kiddie internship application for typos...
Returning from a war spurred many men in my parents' generation to embrace solid, normal life as quickly and thoroughly as possible. The women, who had been through several years of anxiety and insecurity, were only too happy to oblige. That cohort was something of an exaggeration of what we think of as a "normal" progression.
Before that, some ethnic-American cultures married early, but others did not. The average age of marriage was less than at present, but taken as a percentage of life expectancy, one could say that men and women are marrying earlier now than in 1930. People who think they are going to live to 64 are going to behave differently than those who expect to be 84, especially if actual deaths have recently stared them in the face.
Me, for the record: Married at 23, first child at 26. Four sons, now aged 20-28. One married, one expecting to marry within the next two years, one seeking desperately, one letting it flow.
Retriever - You are correct. With a few spectacular exceptions, most of them do turn out right.
I'm out of the Guard (for now at least). They are headed out in a few months - I pray us old salts taught them right.
God bless them and you. Pray for them every day. Group of us at work also.
Silly to say in a way... but nice thread folks. Like old times almost. Good to hear a discussion about something other than politics.
Though I am to old and with no kids... I certainly have lots of nieces and nephews... my perspective of course, but I don't see all that much difference tween then and now... the same divisions just the timing a little different.
Good thoughts R., as usual.
NJ'S... they all respond to example... that is about the best you can do. More how to, than here's how... though that makes no sense, cept to me.
Luther - Makes sense to me. I was always better at showing people than telling people what to do.
Quote of the Day:
"Don't worry. I can guarantee they will be out of diapers by age 18."
That's a good one. I'll have to remember it because I am relatively sanguine in my outlook on extended adolescence.
I am not talking moral relativism here, but we do need to look at adaptive contexts to understand something about why people behave as they do. Living with birth control in a high tech, highly legalistic, competitive society that allows socio-economic mobility may also mean that young people work with a longer runway for take-off. That's not the whole story, but I think we make a mistake when we judge these phenomenon by only comparing them to some static, idealized version of what growing up is supposed to look like.
For most of human history, children skipped education, working from the moment they could, had children in their teens, often without formal marriage and depending on the culture, sometimes through arranged marriages. They had to have many babies to produce a few survivors. Many were left spouse-less by death or abandonment instead of divorce. I'm not suggesting this was good or bad, but that we can better understand why people grow up as they do by looking, in part, at the contexts to which they must adapt as an adult.