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Tag Archives: Lord of the Flies

But You Say It’s Time We Moved In Together

The institution of marriage, in America, is becoming less popular.  This shift is occurring as wedding hype is escalating and equal marriage is gaining ground.  Interesting, eh?

Several European cultures have long eschewed legal marriage for cohabitation (presumably, an arrangement which more Americans are embracing.)  Cohabitation is so popular in the United Kingdom that I have heard Brits often substitute the word “partner” for “spouse” when discussing their legally wed better half.  Of course, Europeans cohabitate differently than we do.  While American are serial monogamists, moving from committed relationship to committed relationship, Europeans (by and large) treat their cohabitation as it were marriage and are in it for the long haul.  Of course, they have laws and policies which support this paradigm.  I’m not certain which came first; habit or attitude.

The American change in marital statistics is intriguing, as it seems to have happened in somewhat of a cultural vacuum.  “The number of unmarried Americans has reached a historic high, as the census also found that 30 percent of Americans have never been married, the largest percentage in the past 60 years.”  Sixty years.  In other words, since 1951.  Think of all the phenomenal cultural shifts that have occurred since 1950 (kinda mind blowing.)  Yet, the decline in marriage is happening now.  Why?  Some might point to a celebrity culture which embraces “all the benefits of marriage without the pesky commitment of marriage” lifestyle.  But I would debate that one; perhaps with the ghosts of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy or Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett.  Yes, there were many many more examples, but can you think of any couples more romantic and brimming with glamor?

I am going to go out on a (trembling precarious) limb here and posit that there is a direct link to the decline in American marriages and to the development delay of our most recent crop of young adults.

Since the dawn of time, children have been looking longingly towards the cave door.  Thousands of generations ago, adolescents were grumbling; “when I have my own fire, I’m gonna do it totally different man.”  Children have embraced their primal genetically preordained imperative to flee, until very very recently.  The result of the last twenty (plus) years of children ruled households, has resulted in (surprise!) childhood seeming far more attractive than adulthood.  Hence, the 28 year old in your basement.

Most of us grew up in a time before children’s: clothing stores, hair salons, furniture stores, and restaurants.  Seriously, where DO these kids get the cash?  There was a bold thick line between the adult world and the world in which we (as children) inhabited.  Parents’ lives ruled the household, and the schedule of the children was integrated into the household (versus setting the entire tone of the household.)  Besides the risk of raising a generation of Veruca Salts, the inherent danger in a child-centric upbringing is that it makes the adult world look pretty shabby in comparison.  If you have all the benefits of adulthood as a child (dinner, theatre, vacations, authority, power) why venture into the demanding world of adulthood?  Is it any wonder that college students are calling/texting their parents everyday?  Who the hell wants to dive into a world in which you will be ruled by children?  Am I the only one who found Lord of the Flies to be the scariest book ever?!

Which bring us to foregoing marriage, while living together, perhaps buying property and even having children.  It’s all the benefits of marriage without the scary grown-up commitment (cue Veruca Salt.)  My objection to these arrangements is purely based on legal (lack of) protection for all parties involved.  And to be perfectly honest, I always find it abhorrent to see people sleepwalking though life.  I find it hard to believe that most adults involved in non-legal relationships involving children are really being their best selves.

No one is offering predictions on where these marriage trends are going.  If the decline is in fact the start of a major cultural shift, it will be interesting to watch what occurs when the children of the cohabitants come of age.  Will they be the generation who, presumably raised in a child-centric household by adults not fully buying into the notion of adulthood, become the Eisenhower generation?  Or will marriage become as quaint and anachronistic as “coming out parties?”   Will it be left to the LGBT community to redefine marriage and make it relevant for the mid-twenty-first century?  Whatever the future of marriage, my hope is that our laws and policies catch up to those of our friends across the pond.  Children should have all the protections of the institution of marriage regardless of current cultural fashion.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Marriage/Wedding

 

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Because I Said So, That’s Why

There is now legislation (in New Jersey) to combat bullying.  In schools.

I know, I too would be ready to cheer from the rooftops if we, as a people, had decreed that picking on persons or groups perceived as weaker than one’s own is an abomination.  What a world, what a world.

But no, the legislation I reference is only about schoolchildren.  There is nothing magical in the legislation.  It is exactly the kind of rules, forms, standards and bureaucracy one would expect.  There will be training for personnel, awareness campaigns, et cetera.  I am less interested in the minutia of legalizing common sense than looking down the road that led us to this point.

Why is bullying such an issue today?  (I am making the leap that bullying is in fact an “issue” as why else would people need to legislate?)  I think we can all agree that not much has changed about the physiological development of children over the past, say, 50 years?  Children have not turned into little Rambo like creatures fortified by steroid rich lunchables.  If anything, national childhood obesity rates would suggest that children have become less physically threatening in recent years (we are not including the threat of sitting on someone smaller than oneself.)  It is safe to assume that any change, on the part of the children, is psychological/emotional.

There is a traditional dichotomy that has been continuously eroding over past recent years: grown-ups were in charge, and all children were not gifted.

No doubt we all agree that children are not little adults.  They are not mentally or physically equipped to be mini-adults.  In fact, that is why parents were invented.  Minimally, parents help guide young minds in impulse control, decision making and the like.  Good parents help children grow into responsible and compassionate adults.

The child factor in this equation is far more troubling to me.  Passive or narcissistic parenting can be changed or augmented with positive interactions with aunts, uncles, teachers and the like.  But teaching a child that they are the center of the universe is cruel.  Not only does this perspective do nothing to help a child learn the skills necessary to be a functioning adult, it is just mean.  It is false advertising, plain and simple.  Not only is it not possible for any person to actually be the center of the universe, but what do you think will happen when he/she inevitably discovers the truth?  Is there any wonder that mental health services are at their breaking point in colleges and universities across the nation?

When we have to legislate adults to intervene when they see children misbehaving, we have a problem.  When did it get so scary for adults to embrace their own (innate) authority?  When did we decide that raising emotional terrorists is good parenting?  When exactly did we decide that the most ill-equipped of our society are in charge?  Legislating in loco parentis in the schools?  This is only the tip of the iceberg.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Childhood

 

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