I’m giving the apology for peace a rest this week, since researching it takes time and there would be no point in spouting obvious generalities — a practice I call “Ann Coulter-ing.”
I’ve had occasion to think about another subject I think is pertinent to people our age. Those of us on our way out of Northern Illinois University are getting to the point in our lives when we start looking for spouses and thinking about kids.
My advice today is not to have them. At least, not yet.
If there’s one thing I need no citation or research to prove, it’s that our parents have done a pretty horrendous job bringing us up. I mean this as a whole, and not necessarily every single parent individually. And though I need no citation, I’ll do it anyway, just to rub it in to those readers who disagree. According to a Jan. 16 New York Times article, 51 percent of U.S. women now live without a spouse. The Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey also found that married couples have become the minority in our country.
Since the Baby Boomer generation has gotten so much fun out of naming us hurtful and insensitive things like “Generation Me,” “Generation Why,” “Generation A.D.D.” or the “Entitlement Generation,” we should perhaps return the favor and start calling them “Generation Divorce.”
What does this mean for the children we’re going to have — and that we’re going to subject to our messy divorces? I have experienced divorce myself from the child’s point of view, and it isn’t anything I’d care to inflict on anybody else.
My prediction of the outcome for our age group and our children is not a happy one, if we repeat the misbehavior of our parents. I foresee a lot of broken, unhappy households that ultimately end in separation, with another generation of kids that are going to look at us spitefully for being dysfunctional and petty people who refuse to work things out because we can just call up a lawyer and have divorce papers served.
Our parents were so repulsed by the idea of the scrubbed-clean “Pleasantville” 1950s nuclear family that they have divorced in record numbers, and the lesson I see they’ve taught us is that compromise and fidelity are no longer in vogue. We’re seeing it with more women marrying older, couples staying in long-term relationships without committing to marriage, crippling divorce rates and the ideal family now becoming a minority in our country.
I realize I paint a bleak picture, but I’m only doing it with statistics, which don’t always tell the whole story. I earlier said not to have kids — not yet at least. That’s because I believe that while we can’t fix what’s wrong with marriage — an institution historically based on financial gain for the families and surefire misery for the betrothed — we can change how we view the definition of family. Politicians are foaming at the mouth with rage over gay people asking for marriage rights. Let them foam. They’re all past childbearing age and you and I and our whole age bracket can fix this by ourselves while they’re still talking nonsense at each other.
Marry late, and marry once, and don’t have kids until you can love them, nurture them, pay for them and teach them there is such a thing in life as two people who cannot be severed. Don’t feel pressure from your friends or your parents, and try to ignore it from yourself. We’re young and strong and college-educated — we can all wait for the right person, and I think we might even have the good sense once we find them to make sure we don’t have a reason to put an end to a good thing and leave our kids listening to us shouting in the other room.
Kenneth Lowe Northern Star Northern Illinois University U-Wire