I had a frustrating conversation this week with someone who I am acquainted with who decided that it was her turn to critique my parenting. (Socialization, protecting them, etc., etc.) I'm not even going to worry about that. I'm used to it and my kids are fine. The part of the conversation that left me feeling cranky was the part about young adults.
I was shopping for a gift for the grandchild of a friend, and said something about it being hard to believe that I was old enough to be a grandma. She was stunned! Her opinion was that with an oldest child who is 20 there is no way grandparenthood should be an option for at least 10 years. Then she said this, "You know, I think that in this society, no one is really grown up until they're almost thirty. I consider people in their twenties older teenagers and teenagers are still really children."
I said that if that was the case for many young adults it wasn't because that is how it is supposed to be, that it's been caused by society. I mentioned the young couples we know among Bethany's friends and at the seminary who have gladly taken on the responsibilities of adult life.
In her opinion they are missing out on the chance to "have fun." They aren't going to have as much materially. And they don't really know who they are, so they will probably end up divorced. (The concept of growing together and staying married no matter what is "old-fashioned.")
I also found it interesting that in her opinion teens are kids and should have fun and not have to take life too seriously, and yet she considers them "grown up" enough to go away for weekends at the lakes as couples. Something's backward when her 17 year old is going to Chicago with a group of girls and guys for a weekend in a hotel, but her 21 year old brings his laundry to mom and lives in a pig sty because she didn't teach him to clean. Her 25 year old has his second live-in girlfriend, but isn't ready for marriage yet.
I see the teens as years for training our kids for adult life. It is a time for academic learning and for learning useful skills like how to do laundry and how to fix a leaky pipe. It is a time for learning how to be a useful, pleasant, productive member of society. They are young adults in their late teens. They are physically ready for marriage and responsibility. It is our job as parents to help them to be mentally and siritually prepared as well.
And no, this doesn't mean I think 18 year olds should skip college and line up to be married. I have a single 20 year old who is all academics. But if she met someone wonderful tomorrow and decided to get married in a few months, I would be all for it. And I do think they're much better off getting married young and growing together than practicing the "serial monogamy" that has become so common in our society and is so dangerous for the heart, body, and soul.
There's another post brewing in here about protecting daughters. It will show up soon.