Young marriage is not irresponsible

Young marriage is not irresponsible

A commenter links to this 2002 article by Frederica Mathewes-Green at National Review Online which says that teen pregnancy is not a bad thing—within a marriage, that is.

True Love Waits. Wait Training. Worth Waiting For. The slogans of teen abstinence programs reveal a basic fact of human nature: teens, sex, and waiting aren’t a natural combination.

Over the last 50 years the wait has gotten longer. In 1950, the average first-time bride was just over 20; in 1998 she was five years older, and her husband was pushing 27. If that June groom had launched into puberty at 12, he’d been waiting more than half his life.

If he had been waiting, that is. Sex is the sugar coating on the drive to reproduce, and that drive is nearly overwhelming. It’s supposed to be; it’s the survival engine of the human race. Fighting it means fighting a basic bodily instinct, akin to fighting thirst.

Yet despite the conflict between liberals and conservatives on nearly every topic available, this is one point on which they firmly agree: Young people absolutely must not have children. Though they disagree on means — conservatives advocate abstinence, liberals favor contraception — they shake hands on that common goal. The younger generation must not produce a younger generation.

But teen pregnancy, in itself, is not such a bad thing. By the age of 18, a young woman’s body is well prepared for childbearing. Young men are equally qualified to do their part.

She discusses all the biological and psychological factors which indicate that childbearing is intended for younger people. Certainly, if you watch how little sleep most college students get at night, you envy them when you’re in your late-30s and up all night with a baby.

Of course, she touches on a point that others made in the comment thread: That the financial situation today is much different than in the past. A high-school diploma is not what it once was, so now you need to a college degree, in many cases, to reach the same income level. But then you have to factor in the cost of college and the loans that come with it.

Those concerns come on top of the extended adolescence we’re seeing in people in the 20s and even 30s. Here’s what I wrote in the comments:

The first problem is the infantilization of adult and the creation of extended adolescence. In fact, adolescence is itself a recent invention. Not long ago, you were a child, then you were an adult, usually around the age of 14 or 15.

But now look at the trend: the biggest purchasers of game consoles like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are mid-20 to mid-30 males. (I will admit I’m not immune from society’s influence; I find myself longing for gadgets and toys.) Many college and post-college adults refuse to take responsibility for their own lives, e.g. “helicopter parents” going on interviews with the 22-year-old children.

And with this extended period of immaturity fewer and fewer people are ready to enter into a lifelong commitment. But there are those are ready and willing and they should not be discouraged just because the majority of their peers are not.

Likewise, they should seek each other out, rather than succumb to the impulses of the age.

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