And they don't want their kids to grow up, either.
Christopher Orlet delivers a gem of a piece on the rise of the perpetual adolescent:
This stands on its head the manners and mores of my grandfather's time. Once grown men and women were chastised if they behaved like children, or refused to take on the responsibilities associated with adulthood. Today it is the men and women who undertake careers, marry, and start families in their twenties whose behavior is called into question. Why would anyone put himself in such a position when you can live a little first?Read the whole thing. Along those lines, see my Adulthood undermined, in which I note the same phenomenon. Please excuse me for quoting myself but it's strictly pertinent to Orlet's thesis:
Living a little, means, among other things, playing kickball.
In a way, this is understandable. Adulthood is, after all, a grim time. It is a time of duties, drudgery, and divorce. Or so the thinking goes. How much better it is to remain a permanent adolescent. Perhaps not biologically, but emotionally.
TRUTH BE TOLD, kickball alone isn't much fun, not even for the participants. That's why most of us lost interest by fifth grade. And that's why when adults play kickball there is always plenty of beer and vulgarity on tap.
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.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. These same adults wouldn't bat an eye upon hearing that the "kids" have decided to move in together but are taken aback at the mention of wedding bells. They may be vaguely uncomfortable with the video-game-addicted, do-nothing, go-slowly-with-the-flow "coffee culture" (described here by Mark Steyn), but it doesn't scare them nearly as much as the idea of their sons and daughters taking on the responsibilities of marriage and family before they're "ready."
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.'
Values play a role in this, of course. Kids raised with post-sexual-revolution values won't see much point in getting married. Serial relationships, co-habitation, and contraceptives are the norm for them. Marriage is a quaint custom if you like that sort of thing but it's no longer a prerequisite for sharing one's life with another or even for bringing new lives into the world. 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.
When the institution of marriage was strong and vital, perhaps it was a force which propelled young men into adulthood. Now that marriage is largely superfluous, it follows that adulthood is, too.
Back to Mr. Orlet. I won't reproduce his description of the puerile vulgarity of his local kickball league. But just after it, he writes:
A moment's reflection, however, makes plain that the issue is more than kickball. Indeed, kickball is just another symptom of the on-going depreciation of adulthood, that 40-year cultural shift of tectonic proportions that has been steadily obliterating the line between adolescence and adulthood.You can't give what you don't have, practice, or believe. Parents who'd rather be tweens (in the worst sense -- no offense, kids!) aren't likely to produce offspring who will grow into responsible adults, are they?
What's more, it's an example of the continuing vulgarization of society spurred by a self-esteem generation brought up to believe everything they do merits praise. The young vulgarians believe their raunchy, drunken antics deserve the same attention they received when daddy filmed their first time on the potty.
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