Posted on | July 9, 2011 | 7 Comments
Wow, it hardly seems a whole year has gone by since last summer’s big wedding! And since that grand occasion, Kennedy has graduated summa cum laude, and Martin has been accepted to law school in Baltimore.
And before you ask: No, no grandchildren yet, although now that Kennedy has been hired to teach in Frederick, Md., the young couple are thinking about buying a house. When I say “young couple,” I mean young couple: Kennedy just turned 22, and Martin’s 24.
How many parents today actually want their sons to become full-fledged adults at age 21 or 22, working full-time, getting married and starting families? Not many, I’ll wager. But it was different forty years ago:
Last year Vanessa Wight, of Columbia University, used data from the U.S. Current Population Survey to show how young people are increasingly delaying marriage.
In 1970, the median age for a first marriage was 20.8 for women and 23.2 for men. It is now 25.9 for women and 28.1 for men.
She said: ‘Some research suggests that the notion of adulthood is changing and that marriage and parenthood, once the hallmarks of adult status, are no longer as important to defining a successful transition to adulthood.’
It was the cultural norm back then, but now a young couple who marries at the median ages of 1970 raises eyebrows among the older generation. . . .
The key to the whole “Why Johnny Won’t Grow Up” puzzle may be this: the permanent commitment of traditional marriage isn’t only irrelevant to most young adults; it’s not embraced by their parents, either. . . .
Read the whole thing. What is in greatest danger of being lost, I would argue, is the sense of romantic idealism among young people. If teenagers can’t dream that their romance is “Always and Forever,” is it really romantic at all? And if they are constantly urged to delay marriage, told that they are “too young to get serious,” what happens if they start to believe that? Two years ago, I wrote about this issue in “Forbidding to Marry” at the Hot Air Green Room, which I recall to your attention.
But this isn’t a social science lecture, it’s a congratulations to my daughter and her handsome husband. Happy anniversary!
Now, about those grandchildren . . .
UPDATE: Just to show you how long I’ve been writing about this, see my 2001 Washington Times column, “Titanic loss of family values.”