Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Millennials on Marriage: "Not Yet"

James Poulos has pointed out an interesting debate between Ben Domenech and Conor Friedersdorf over why Millenials are waiting to get married later than earlier generations.

Here is Ben:
reproduction and union because they devalue it. Because technology and culture
(today, technology is culture) unite to encourage them to devalue it — to favor
distraction over maturity, personal growth over familial growth, and self over

Conor offers a different set of motives: 1) Today’s women are focused on their careers. 2) Parents want to offer their children every material advantage, just like their own parents did. 3) They want to avoid a divorce, which was pervasive in the previous generation.

Ben’s response to the first point is that more and more women today are leaving the workforce. My response to the second point is that Boomers spoiled us when they did that, hence the term 'Trophy Kids'. And the third point I am willing to grant. But I would develop Ben’s argument about the “self over society.” Tocqueville describes it terms of love of material well being (we call it consumerism):
The ubiquity of McMansions and dozens of creature comforts is another reason why Millennials delay marriage and children. Families weigh us down as we try to climb the economic ladder. Tocqueville decried this comfort-seeking mentality and believed it would make us soft. Borrowing an argument from Peter Lawler, I would point out the inevitability of death and how it forces us to reevaluate our priorities. Lying in your deathbed has a way of changing your outlook on things, especially when it comes to how you lived your life. Better to take that perspective now than later.

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