Friday, October 06, 2006

When do they grow up?

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.


RPW said...

I completely agree. My parents raised me to believe that I didn't want to get married until I was around 30 or so and "live my dreams first." The mistake was they let me go to school in Utah, where men were sent off on two year missions at the age of 19, were encouraged to get married ASAP when they got back (so they didn't stray away from the faith after such an intense experience), but still go to school and have a family. I was on a small campus that had married housing. My classmates were having children. They were growing up and old together.

Jeff and I married what is considered young by the previous generation (have you noticed how this youngest generation of adults seems to be rejecting the "wait until you're 30 advice?), and because we were still forming our identities and desires, I think we were more open to complete changes in our ideologies for something better. I don't know if it is as easy for couples who marry later to cleave to each other in that least some couples. It amazes me how Jeff and I have embraced rather unique ideas -- together. It sets a pattern for doing that...rather than relying on 10 years of adulthood of doing it "my own way."

Heck...I was going to be done with school by age 26. Now I'm not done and its 9 years later. But what a ride...two beautiful kids, homeschooling, moving various places across country. It's been fun. I'll be done with school someday, and I've had an adventure, too!

I too would embrace the idea of my kids marrying in college, and I'd help them meet their goals anyway I could.

Anonymous said...

We have so many messed up young adults and it is reasoning like this that we do. Personally, I have had the most fun ibeing married to they guy I am married to. I never imagined growing up that I would be moving about the country, traveling the world and have a wonderful, God fearing husband and three wonderful kids to do it with.

Lisa said...

Rebellious Pastor's Wife--
I wrote a longer post in my blog ( about this, but I find it rather amusing that I fully expected to be married with children by the time I was 26... Instead, I have an amazing career and a masters degree. There's some humor in there somewhere I think... :)

Genuine Lustre said...

Yes. Preach it, Jane.

Barbara Frank said...

You are so right. Your acquaintance's hypocrisy is stunning, yet most people would not comment on it. I'm glad you did.
I got married at 20, while I was in college. I was in journalism school at the time, and I took a lot of verbal abuse for getting married, and then taking his name to boot! Shacking up had just gotten popular---why on earth would we get married instead??? 27 years later, it's still one of the best decisions we ever made. No wonder we applauded our son's decision to marry next year after he graduates from Concordia in Wisconsin. He'll then go to seminary, where he already has friends just a little older than him, who are married.
That said, marrying young cannot be a blanket recommendation. The bottom line is: watch for God's leading, and for the people He puts in your life. It may happen at 20, or at 40, or maybe not at all. You can't go wrong if you pray for God's best in your life, whichever it is.
Great post! Keep it up, Jane--- :)