Today’s young adults are SO MUCH younger than I was at that age

 

voronaman, via Shutterstock

You’ve probably seen similar stats before, but check this out:

In 1970, only 38 million Americans were unmarried — divorced or separated, widowed, or never married. They accounted for just 28 percent of all Americans 18 and older. By 2019, more than three times as many were unmarried, about 118 million. They account for nearly half of all adults in the U.S. (47 percent).

One reason the number of unmarried Americans has been increasing over the past half-century is that the age at which adults in the U.S. get married, of those who do marry, has been climbing. As the graph below shows, in 1950 and 1960, the median age at which women got married for the first time was just a little over 20. That means that about half of the women marrying for the first time were teenagers! At nearly 23, the men weren’t that much older.

Now (as of 2020), the median age at which men first marry in the U.S. is 30.5. That means that about half of the men who are marrying for the first time are older than 30. About half of the women are older than 28.

When my youngest started at Georgetown a few years ago, she shared a house with 4 other girls.  My daughter was the only one of them who knew how to clean a toilet, how to mop a floor, literally how to change a lightbulb.  She was also the only one who was not taking anti-depressants, but that’s another story.  Her roommates wanted to hire a cleaning lady.  They’re 18 years old.  My daughter told them that there was absolutely no way that her parents would pay her share for a cleaning lady.  So she went to Home Depot, bought mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies, showed everyone how to do everything and assigned tasks.

Liv Oeian, via Shutterstock

Try to imagine any of those other 18-year-old girls married, with a husband and kids, running a household.

It’s worse with boys.  There are so many 30-year-old “men” playing video games, living with their parents.  So many.  Henry David Thoreau was an anomaly.  Now, he’s the norm.  Which is fine, I suppose, unless you’re a young woman looking for a husband.  Then it’s not fine.

Our young adults used to be adults.  Now they’re just young.

So, so young.

I was born in 1968.  In 1987, at 18 years old, I was living with my Swedish girlfriend on the Finnish border north of the Baltic.  We were young.  But we were mature enough to work jobs, maintain a household, and understand the importance of finances, future planning, and family.  We didn’t do everything right.  But we were adults.

It didn’t work out.  We found other spouses.  Who were also adults.  We made do.  As best we could.  Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you’d like it to.  But we made do.  As best we could.

We were adults.

My daughters are in their early to mid-20s now, and most of their friends are children.  Twenty to thirty-year-old children.  Those were rare specimens in the days of Henry David Thoreau.  But today they are common.

It’s good that children aren’t marrying, I suppose.  They’re children.  They can’t handle responsibility.  But we need adults.  And if our twenty-something-year-olds are still children, then who are the adults?

Da Nang, Vietnam…A young Marine private waits on the beach during Marine landing
127-N-A-185146
07424_1998_001

Every society needs adults.

My youngest daughter turns 23 soon.  When my Mother was 23, she was living on a military base, she had a husband in the military during Vietnam, she had two small children, and she had enormous responsibilities.  Which she handled the best she could.  She made some mistakes, I’m sure.  She was young.  But she was an adult.

We now have legions of college graduates who don’t know how to clean a toilet.

If we can’t produce adults, capable of dealing with reality, then our society disappears.  Quickly.

Western Civilization is dying.  Of suicide.

Raise your children well.  It matters.  It matters more than you can imagine.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Their have no grasp of history.

    They haven’t read any book that doesn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title.

    They can’t think, or at least they avoid it at all hazards.

    • #1
  2. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Percival (View Comment):

    Their have no grasp of history.

    They haven’t read any book that doesn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title.

    They can’t think, or at least they avoid it at all hazards.

    Or I would say they think they know history but have a very simple, flat view of history.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Dr. Bastiat: Western Civilization is dying.  Of suicide.

    The problem of wealth is that people don’t need to know the basics to survive. They can live off the wealth of previous generations. Which is great, until the systems break down and nobody remembers how to fix them. Then, they can’t coast anymore. Then they have to learn how to be an adult. If they survive.

    • #3
  4. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    I just read your post from 2019 (what a halcyon year that was) on Thoreau. I clicked the heart icon to “like” it. The number by the icon went down…meaning I must’ve liked it back then, and now the machinery was interpreting my second click as a reversal of my first! No no no. I STILL like, or “like,” it!

    • #4
  5. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    John H. (View Comment):

    I just read your post from 2019 (what a halcyon year that was) on Thoreau. I clicked the heart icon to “like” it. The number by the icon went down…meaning I must’ve liked it back then, and now the machinery was interpreting my second click as a reversal of my first! No no no. I STILL like, or “like,” it!

    Darn technology!!!

    • #5
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    John H. (View Comment):

    I just read your post from 2019 (what a halcyon year that was) on Thoreau. I clicked the heart icon to “like” it. The number by the icon went down…meaning I must’ve liked it back then, and now the machinery was interpreting my second click as a reversal of my first! No no no. I STILL like, or “like,” it!

    5 years ago.  Golly.

    • #6
  7. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    I graduated from High School in 1980, in a middle class/upper middle class suburb.  One girl in my class [of 500 people] got married before we graduated.  Everyone thought it was pretty odd.  No, she wasn’t pregnant.

    Of all the people I knew  in college, [UWEC, student body of about 10,000] there was only one couple of undergraduate age that was married.

    I didn’t get married until I was 41.

     

    • #7
  8. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    John H. (View Comment):

    I just read your post from 2019 (what a halcyon year that was) on Thoreau. I clicked the heart icon to “like” it. The number by the icon went down…meaning I must’ve liked it back then, and now the machinery was interpreting my second click as a reversal of my first! No no no. I STILL like, or “like,” it!

    Then I hope you clicked it again.

    • #8
  9. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    My late husband and I were artists-in-residence for many years out in the Black Hills, in Custer State Park. We operated out of Sylvan Lake Lodge, a lovely location. We were provided employee housing and employee meals. The first few years we were there, we were appalled at the habits of the young employees – housekeeping, wait staff, etc. – many of whom were away from Mommy and Daddy for the first time. They didn’t seem to know the most basic things, such as cleaning up after themselves, cleaning up tables and food preparation surfaces, putting perishables away, and the employee kitchen was a dirty fly magnet as a result. Dave and I ate out a lot… One year we arrived to find the employee kitchen spotless. When we first walked in, we found a man on the concrete steps which led upstairs to the public areas actually cleaning the junction of the treads and risers with a toothbrush. Apparently the management had had enough of feckless American youth, who, in addition to not knowing basic hygiene, had a habit of going out and getting drunk most evenings, and showing up for work hung over (if they showed up at all).  Management decided to hire overseas workers from companies which supplied them. The man on the steps was from the Philippines, as were most of the workers that year, and subsequent years saw a lot of Eastern European workers join them.

    • #9
  10. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    colleenb (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Their have no grasp of history.

    They haven’t read any book that doesn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title.

    They can’t think, or at least they avoid it at all hazards.

    Or I would say they think they know history but have a very simple, flat view of history.

    Howard Zinn. 

    • #10
  11. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Dr. Bastiat: My daughter told them that there was absolutely no way that her parents would pay her share for a cleaning lady.  So she went to Home Depot, bought mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies, showed everyone how to do everything, and assigned tasks.  

    I read this part to my husband. He said your daughter should have told them they could pay her to clean. I think she did the better thing by doing something their parents should have done long ago. Down the road they will thank her for it.

    Dr. Bastiat: Raise your children well.  It matters.  It matters more than you can imagine.

    I see a good many parents that aren’t raising their children. I’m sure I’ve said before in these pages about all the parents in my neighborhood who cut the grass while little Timmy or Susie are inside. Shoot, I have 2 adult neighbors whose parents come over and cut their yards! Adults that live in their own houses and have jobs! Now, I can see you, Doc, doing just that for your daughters, NOT! I also know your daughters wouldn’t stand for it. You raised them right. It’s all that cutting wood back in the day that did it. 

    • #11
  12. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: Western Civilization is dying. Of suicide.

    The problem of wealth is that people don’t need to know the basics to survive. They can live off the wealth of previous generations. Which is great, until the systems break down and nobody remembers how to fix them. Then, they can’t coast anymore. Then they have to learn how to be an adult. If they survive.

    That’s why the left believes we need immigrants. 

    • #12
  13. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Blondie (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: My daughter told them that there was absolutely no way that her parents would pay her share for a cleaning lady. So she went to Home Depot, bought mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies, showed everyone how to do everything, and assigned tasks.

    I read this part to my husband. He said your daughter should have told them they could pay her to clean. I think she did the better thing by doing something their parents should have done long ago. Down the road they will thank her for it.

    The other girls’ parents might have refused to pay if she didn’t have a degree in housekeeping, or something.

    • #13
  14. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I graduated from High School in 1980, in a middle class/upper middle class suburb. One girl in my class [of 500 people] got married before we graduated. Everyone thought it was pretty odd. No, she wasn’t pregnant.

    Of all the people I knew in college, [UWEC, student body of about 10,000] there was only one couple of undergraduate age that was married.

    I didn’t get married until I was 41.

     

    I tell every young person to find a suitable partner and get married by 22. 

    • #14
  15. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    I don’t know if it’s causation, but it seems like the societies that can control the beginning of life (through birth control and abortion), and have more control of the end of life (through improved medical care) marry less and have fewer children. The first part enables arrested development and the last part allows a long, work free retirement. You have to have a pretty productive civilization to support all that.

    The timeframe fits for North America, Japan and Western Europe, starting in the 70s and spreading to second world countries and eventually to less developed societies. You probably don’t want to live anywhere where the women are averaging more than 4 kids.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Blondie (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: My daughter told them that there was absolutely no way that her parents would pay her share for a cleaning lady.  So she went to Home Depot, bought mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies, showed everyone how to do everything, and assigned tasks.  

    I read this part to my husband. He said your daughter should have told them they could pay her to clean. I think she did the better thing by doing something their parents should have done long ago. Down the road they will thank her for it.

    That’s the first thing I thought of too.

    • #16
  17. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    My best friend of almost 40 years is still working at my old company. Most of those near our age have retired and have been replaced by people young enough to be our grandchildren. She is fascinated by their attitudes and values. The “young” woman is in her late 20s. She talks about how her generation values “experiences” and not material things. She is completely lacking in self-awareness because she thinks that marriage and children would force her and her friends to sacrifice “their lifestyle”. They live in the Bay Area where homes are ridiculously expensive, and though they could afford to buy if they practiced some frugality, they don’t want to give up “the lifestyle”. I suspect that if the choice came down to family/children or the lifestyle, the lifestyle will win. Well, I made my choices and lived with them. They will have to do the same. 

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Django (View Comment):

    My best friend of almost 40 years is still working at my old company. Most of those near our age have retired and have been replaced by people young enough to be our grandchildren. She is fascinated by their attitudes and values. The “young” woman is in her late 20s. She talks about how her generation values “experiences” and not material things. She is completely lacking in self-awareness because she thinks that marriage and children would force her and her friends to sacrifice “their lifestyle”. They live in the Bay Area where homes are ridiculously expensive, and though they could afford to buy if they practiced some frugality, they don’t want to give up “the lifestyle”. I suspect that if the choice came down to family/children or the lifestyle, the lifestyle will win. Well, I made my choices and lived with them. They will have to do the same.

    I suspect they will end up with far greater regrets.

    • #18
  19. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Blondie (View Comment):
    I’m sure I’ve said before in these pages about all the parents in my neighborhood who cut the grass while little Timmy or Susie are inside.

    I like the mowing the lawn.  Plus, it’s a nice walk.

    • #19
  20. Chuck Coolidge
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I graduated from High School in 1980, in a middle class/upper middle class suburb. One girl in my class [of 500 people] got married before we graduated. Everyone thought it was pretty odd. No, she wasn’t pregnant.

    Of all the people I knew in college, [UWEC, student body of about 10,000] there was only one couple of undergraduate age that was married.

    I didn’t get married until I was 41.

     

    Got married just after turning 19, the wife was 22.   TAMU class of ‘69 much later masters In Computer Engineering at FAU. Mentored kids seeking first job.  

    Wife just turned 80.

    Doc’s right.

    • #20
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    My best friend of almost 40 years is still working at my old company. Most of those near our age have retired and have been replaced by people young enough to be our grandchildren. She is fascinated by their attitudes and values. The “young” woman is in her late 20s. She talks about how her generation values “experiences” and not material things. She is completely lacking in self-awareness because she thinks that marriage and children would force her and her friends to sacrifice “their lifestyle”. They live in the Bay Area where homes are ridiculously expensive, and though they could afford to buy if they practiced some frugality, they don’t want to give up “the lifestyle”. I suspect that if the choice came down to family/children or the lifestyle, the lifestyle will win. Well, I made my choices and lived with them. They will have to do the same.

    I suspect they will end up with far greater regrets.

    What are you saying? 

    • #21
  22. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Victor Davis Hansen went into great detail about this in this interview with Rachel and Sean Duffy of Fox News.

    https://dcs.megaphone.fm/FOXM5206954798.mp3?key=6f34d393b3c4ea2799ba7fe146939f35&request_event_id=1fd0b8ed-c0b9-4a07-b5df-76ce5ae2ec63&source=3&timetoken=1720335340_9EB1295694DE52A21904F51D88D84E92

    It’s not just learning what to do, there is also a constructive level of patience that you aren’t going to die when you do it and it’s worth it that makes it easier.

    You have to get it in your head that if you don’t do it, it isn’t going to get done and you aren’t going to die. That’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close to what he was saying.  It’s not like you’re wasting your time. Very few people have enough money that they don’t have this option.

    His son got fired from a part-time job because he knew how to run a forklift better than anybody else without any on the job certification. Really good stories about getting stuff done on the farm, too. Very instructive.

    • #22
  23. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    My best friend of almost 40 years is still working at my old company. Most of those near our age have retired and have been replaced by people young enough to be our grandchildren. She is fascinated by their attitudes and values. The “young” woman is in her late 20s. She talks about how her generation values “experiences” and not material things. She is completely lacking in self-awareness because she thinks that marriage and children would force her and her friends to sacrifice “their lifestyle”. They live in the Bay Area where homes are ridiculously expensive, and though they could afford to buy if they practiced some frugality, they don’t want to give up “the lifestyle”. I suspect that if the choice came down to family/children or the lifestyle, the lifestyle will win. Well, I made my choices and lived with them. They will have to do the same.

    I suspect they will end up with far greater regrets.

    What are you saying?

    It’s up there with “on their death bed, nobody says they wished they spent more time at the office.”

    On their death beds, those women won’t wish they had spent more time at the night clubs, etc.  And I expect they’ll be terribly lonely long before then.

    • #23
  24. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    I first noticed this with Teenagers not wanting to get their drivers license.  I was born in the early 60s. My friends and I lined up the first day after our 16th birthday to get the license. I had a nephew wait until he graduated high school until he did it. That was the first time I noticed something off about the current generation becoming adults.

    • #24
  25. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    I first noticed this with Teenagers not wanting to get their drivers license. I was born in the early 60s. My friends and I lined up the first day after our 16th birthday to get the license. I had a nephew wait until he graduated high school until he did it. That was the first time I noticed something off about the current generation becoming adults.

    “Nobody needs a driver’s license, just call Uber!” they say, with total lack of awareness.

     

    Also reminds me of this old favorite:

     

    • #25
  26. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    My best friend of almost 40 years is still working at my old company. Most of those near our age have retired and have been replaced by people young enough to be our grandchildren. She is fascinated by their attitudes and values. The “young” woman is in her late 20s. She talks about how her generation values “experiences” and not material things. She is completely lacking in self-awareness because she thinks that marriage and children would force her and her friends to sacrifice “their lifestyle”. They live in the Bay Area where homes are ridiculously expensive, and though they could afford to buy if they practiced some frugality, they don’t want to give up “the lifestyle”. I suspect that if the choice came down to family/children or the lifestyle, the lifestyle will win. Well, I made my choices and lived with them. They will have to do the same.

    I suspect they will end up with far greater regrets.

    What are you saying?

    It’s up there with “on their death bed, nobody says they wished they spent more time at the office.”

    On their death beds, those women won’t wish they had spent more time at the night clubs, etc. And I expect they’ll be terribly lonely long before then.

    I don’t find that persuasive. 

    They need to make people procreate FICA slaves at gunpoint or stay out of our lives.  

    • #26
  27. E. Kent Golding Moderator
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Dr. Bastiat:

     

    Try to imagine any of those other 18 year old girls married, with a husband and kids, running a household.

     

    I don’t know doctor.   Your daughter may have set them on the right road just by showing them how to clean a bathroom and an apartment

    • #27
  28. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Percival (View Comment):

    Their have no grasp of history.

    They haven’t read any book that doesn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title.

    They can’t think, or at least they avoid it at all hazards.

    Yet they will lecture you endlessly on topics they know nothing about but have been programmed with platitudes.

    • #28
  29. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    My brother-in-law is a rabid Democrat. PhD in a practical subject. Totally leads a conservative lifestyle just like Dennis Prager predicts.

    After years and years, he finally admitted that he doesn’t know anything about public policy and he’s not talking about it anymore. I think they like government force way too much and they think it doesn’t work. They just need to vote in some good people to make government force work. Then they do it over and over. Like Paul Ryan says, it always takes us six sentences for everyone they used to explain our side. ***Instead, he focuses on “scandals” ***. He really thinks it was worthwhile to spend $31 million going after the Trump’s just because they were in Russia about some hotel deal. That is literally what it came down to.

    When you talk about scandals, the Trump lawfare thing has been really educational. I did not fully understand what attorneys general, DAs, and prosecutors are supposed to do. Bar associations are effectively a terrible fifth column of government.  What can anybody do about that? The DOJ is terrible. The FBI is terrible. The CIA is terrible. We really are turning into a banana republic.

    • #29
  30. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: Western Civilization is dying. Of suicide.

    The problem of wealth is that people don’t need to know the basics to survive. They can live off the wealth of previous generations. Which is great, until the systems break down and nobody remembers how to fix them. Then, they can’t coast anymore. Then they have to learn how to be an adult. If they survive.

    Especially wealth that comes from finance, like ours does. 

    Finance is what you call an “agency” relationship. Banking. Investment bankers. Real estate brokers. Talent agents. A lot of the legal profession. historically that percentage has been about 15%. America is like 40% or something. that happens for a lot of reasons like we have a really good legal system and the reserve currency, but I’m not sure it isn’t too high.

    • #30
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