Delayed marriage and the lengthening path to adulthood

Posted By on June 16, 2010

A thought-provoking piece from the folks at Mercatornet:

It’s not exactly news, but a report from Princeton University and the Brookings Institution highlights the well-established trend of “delayed adulthood” as people in their twenties prolong their education and fail to reach the milestones of marriage and parenthood. Actually, this could be more a delay in financial and social independence than in an adult attitude to life: a twenty-something student or worker can be very responsible without having married or while still living in the family home. However, delayed economic independence and family formation have consequences not only for individuals and their families but for the whole of society, as research by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood shows.

Read the rest over here. And I’d love to hear your responses to this in the comments back here. I see a whole lot going on here that illustrates how failing to think of long-term consequences years back can seriously hurt the future. Greece, anyone?

About The Author

Mrs. Chancey is the mother of 12 children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.


9 Responses to “Delayed marriage and the lengthening path to adulthood”

  1. Mrs. Chancey, did you see the similar article over at NY Times?

    “Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Even Longer”

    Sometimes it feels like this country is splitting into two totally different societies. One in which the traditional patterns of life are adhered to, in which a child matures towards adulthood between 14 and 20, usually marries and has a family, etc. The second society is the ever-increasingly common modern way of life in which adolescence lasts until 30-ish and the traditional markers of adulthood–serious work, marriage, children, homemaking–only arrive in the late 30s and 40s, if at all! Some of the economic reasons behind this are fascinating too.

  2. This reflects the general failure of society to encourage a goal setting and an entrepreneurial spirit in youth. We as young people are consistently fed the lie that degrees lead to more money – I have seen many teens waste years getting mediocre grades in a degree that holds no job value whatsoever. They return home in their mid twenties to slave at poorly-paid drudge jobs.

    It is nothing but a scam to allow secular universities to rake in money. Youth can very easily learn useful/marketable skills without giving secular colleges a dime – language tapes, conversing with friends who speak other languages, living in another country for a month, apprenticing with a master tradesman, reading cookbooks… the list goes on and on!

  3. In the portin of the site where they characterize this generation’s view of marriage as “you + me = you + me” rather than “you + me = us” literally made tears well up in my eyes. This is MY generation, and I could not be more devastated to read these words…because I know how true they are. We have fallen so far in our understanding of marriage in this society that no one even seems to know what marriage IS anymore. This is tragic. Tragic.

    And, I’m with LeeAnn. It is remarkable sometimes how very divided our nation is. I truly believe that this is the most ideologically divided our country has been since the Civil War. I shudder to think what may come of it.

  4. tmichelle says:

    As horrible as this trend is, think of the upside. People who do not value marriage and children will eventually be replaced by those who do value children. Eventually, we more tradition minded people will become more dominant just by being the only ones raising and influencing enough children to replace our current generation.

  5. This article gets to the heart of what is driving my sister and I’s firm conviction and discussions on marriages or the lack there of. The Baby Conference (Hosted by Vision Forum) is a highlighting event on this topic as well. We desire more children, lots of them. Our question is: Is this generation of Christian homeschooling families really harnessing the real advantage that they already have won? The children that they already have fallowing in their footsteps of having large families? Raising up a new and improved replica of the last generationx10?

    With the demographics that are spelled out in Demographic Winter and Demographic Bomb we have a window of opportunity that could close on us if we do not walk through it. If this generation does not pick up the torch and fallow God’s mandate of be fruitful and multiply, (not just the current marriages!!!) then we are throwing this opportunity to have a major world wide impact away. While the rest of the world’s population’s numbers are diving, we as Christians should be filling the gap and overtaking the fallen cultures. We can not do that if we are delaying the age of marriage and “limiting” the number of children that we could be having.

    Yes, God is sovereign, but are we really taking what He has commanded us to do seriously??? Man has a responsibility before God to fulfill his precepts and commands or there will be curses and consequences. One of the ways that we can disregard His commands is by delayed marriages.

    For Christians, singleness is a form of birth control. What has been the Conservatives answer to illegitimate and pre-marriage pregnancies? Abstinence. What is going to happen if there are not marriages happening the the Christian circles? “Birth control” through “abstinence”. Why would we want to cut ourselves off from God’s blessing this way??? I can’t figure it out. Yes, trust in God, but we need to use the means that he has given us to work out His ends. If Children and a new faithful and fruitful generation is the ends, the means would be marriage. Not only do we need to trust in God for our future spouses, but we need to be trusting in God to provide for the family that we desire to establish instead of wanting $— in the bank; prepared hearts for the heavy burdens and duties that come with raising children; wisdom to rebuild a culture from the ground up etc. – instead of trying to do all of the work for Him on our own as singles before we consider getting married.

    Sorry for that rant. (Not:) Do I sound desperate for a husband yet? I hope not. I hope I just come across as passionate for the things of God, for His future Children.

  6. Dedicated daughter, I appreciate what you’re saying, but the kingdom of God will never ONLY be furthered by good Christian families raising large numbers of good Christian children. The Christian faith has always needed, and will always need, those who sacrifice ALL for the sake of the kingdom. Leave your father, mother, possesions, home, the apostles were called to leave their *families* behind to follow Jesus. It’s true that not everyone can respond to such a radical call but there you have it. For those than can do it, we are called to sacrifice all…especially for those serving as missionaries, preachers, evangelists, etc.

    I do agree though that those who enter into Christian marriage should work hard to put themselves in a position where they are able to receive and raise as many children as they are able. This means being careful not to be burdened with debts, avoiding a luxurious lifestyle, and so on. Every couple is unique and health and marital issues do come up that mean our families are often not as large as we would like, so it’s important not to judge any family on the number of children they have.

  7. Rachel K says:

    From my own anecdotal evidence, I think people of my generation (I’m 24, married at 22) are beginning to shift back towards marrying younger again. Many of my (non-christian) acquaintances are getting engaged and married, which has surprised me, as I assumed that many of my former grammar school-girl classmates would become your typical career women. I do think the tide is beginning to turn.

    It’s hard to know what effect the recesssion has had/will have on this. On the one hand, I’ve noticed that some friends who can’t get jobs or at least, can’t get established in their chosen career because of the recession deciding to just forge ahead with marriage. The idea being, I suppose, well I can’t start a career so maybe I’ll get married and have kids first and have my career later when the economic climate has improved.

    However, there are also those, noticeably men, who are still living with parents well into their twenties – they went to Uni, then went travelling/had fun, and then by the time they returned realised they’d missed the boat, the recession had hit and there were no jobs for them. I graduated in 2008 when the recession hadn’t yet hit the jobs market. People from that graduation year who went travelling would have started to try and get jobs in 2009/10 and the jobs just aren’t there anymore. I do feel deeply sorry for these people, and I do wonder whether marriage and children will be even further delayed for these types.

  8. fedup says:

    Not everyone who does not marry shortly after hight school is suffering, or missing the boat, sort of speak. It is simply not what some aspire to do. Many people would agree that what you may call “delaying marriage and children” is simply their choice not to do so. I don’t quite understand what a man living with his parents at 20 something, has to do with the topic of marriage and children. The point was that youth are prolonging independence. So, that could be true of the boy/man who does not look for his own place. But to assume he will “miss out” on marriage and kids is a little presumptuous. I am married, but it was not until I was 28 years old when I did so. The time you married was right for you. If one decides to never wed, that, too, is his/her choice. Please don’t assume yours is the only way, or that those who do not adhere to the way you live are damaging this country.

  9. fedup says:

    Hey, Lucy. Good to hear from you. To be honest, I have to admit, I’m a little puzzled at the implication that family stability leads to political stability. I only say that because there have been more than a couple of “incidences” of infidelity, with both men and women, in politics. I don’t think it is the company of the man that makes him great, but the quality. Just a personal opinion. Things that seem to be one way, can be entirely different. Maybe we’d all just like to believe the perceived stability is the result of a stable family. ? Just a thought.

    I don’t feel as though I am missing out on anything, either. I would venture to guess that those who do, might not be in the same type of relationship as we are. One where they feel secure to be themselves. But, I do strongly believe that there are some who simply want a different life. And to that, I say, to each is own.

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