Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best Age to Marry for the Kids: Mid-Twenties

Sharon Jayson has an excellent article in USA Today about the debate over what is the best age to marry. The marriage age has been creeping up and averages the highest ever -- nearly 26 for women and 28 for men. Everyone agrees that you shouldn't marry as a teenager if you can help it, and most agree that you should start having kids by 30 if possible.

The division among the scholars in this debate is between Norval Glenn, who found that those who marry in their mid-twenties are happiest, and Andrew Cherlin, who argues that those who marry in their late 20s or early 30s are the most mature and settled.

I side with Glenn in this debate. I think having children is important to the great majority of married couples, and delaying trying to have kids into your 30s is dicier than most people know.

I was struck by another point in this debate, though: everyone in it assume that marriage should come before children. This is a debate among people on the upper side of the "marriage caste" divide. For those one the lower side, where single teen mothers are the norm, 40 is the ideal age for marriage, whereas 20 is the ideal age for motherhood. This is the further reason I side with Norval Glenn. He holds out for the crucial connection between marriage and parenthood. Separate them, and the social fabric unravels.

7 comments:

Aaron X said...

Why churches fear gay marriage

[As the American family fractures and the majority of women choose to live without men, churches are losing their grip on power and scapegoating gays and lesbians for their failures.]

[American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn't declining, it's increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.]

[But the real challenge to the family right now is male irresponsibility and misbehavior toward women. If the Hispanic Catholic and evangelical churches really wanted to protect the family, they should address the issue of wife beating in Hispanic families and the misbehaviors of the father against the mother. But no, they go after gay marriage. It doesn't take any brilliance to notice that this is hypocrisy of such magnitude that you blame the gay couple living next door for the fact that you've just beaten your wife.]

[Now these churches are going after homosexuals as a way of insisting on their own propriety. They are insisting that they have a role to play in the general society as moral guardians, when what we have seen in the recent past is just the opposite. I mean, it's one thing for the churches to insist on their right to define the sacrament of marriage for their own members. But it's quite another for them to insist that they have a right to define the relationships of people outside their communities. That's really what's most troubling about Proposition 8. It was a deliberate civic intrusion by the churches.]

[To my knowledge, the churches have not accepted responsibility for the Bush catastrophe. Having claimed, in some cases, that Bush was divinely inspired and his election was the will of God, they have failed to explain why the last eight years have been so catastrophic for America.]

[But religious communities must be challenged too. I was in Jerusalem a couple of years ago for Gay Pride. All the leaders of religious communities -- Muslim, Jew and Christian -- were brought together by their mutual animosity toward gay activism to protest the parade. There was the grand patriarch of the Eastern churches, the high rabbi of Jerusalem, the Roman Catholic archbishop, the mullahs, and they were all united in one cause. The police outnumbered the parade participants. One marcher was attacked and stabbed by an Orthodox Jew.]

[I have not been to a Mexican family without some suspicion of homosexuality in children or grandchildren. But people deal with it within the larger context of family. That's why I suspect the revolution will come not from the male church but from how women treat their children, and whether or not women are willing to reject their children. I don't think they are. I saw too many times during the AIDS epidemic that when death came and the disease took its toll, if one parent was there, it was almost always the mother and not the father. That bond is so powerful.]

[The desert religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- are male religions. Their perception is that God is a male god and Allah is a male god. If the male is allowed to hold onto the power of God, then I think we are in terrible shape. I think what's coming out of Colorado Springs right now, with people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is either the last or continuing gasp of a male hierarchy in religion. That's what's at stake. And women have a determining role to play. Are they going to go along with this, or are they going to challenge the order?

Aaron X said...

Judge Rules Against Florida Gay Adoption Ban - VIDEO

Miami judge rules against Florida gay adoption ban

[Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state's arguments that there is "a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children."

She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida. "There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting," she wrote in a 53-page ruling.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption. Arkansas voters last month approved a measure similar to a law in Utah that bans any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.]

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["I've never seen myself as less than anybody else," Gill said. "We're very grateful. Today, I've cried the first tears of joy in my life."

He said the two boys have been practicing writing their new last names, and the older one said: "That's what's going to make us a family."

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, who represent Gill, said the case was the first in the nation in which numerous experts in child psychology, social work and other fields testified that there is no science to justify a gay adoption ban.]
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[Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all support permitting same-sex couples to adopt.

Lederman rejected all the state's arguments soundly.

"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," the judge wrote. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."]

Aaron X said...

PHOTOS Prop 8 Protest St. Louis, MO (11-15-08)

Gruntled said...

Aaron, what do either of these comments have to do with the post?

Aaron X said...

Nothing, I'm just trying to drive you bananas. :-)

PS marriage is a dying institution, and I think it's high time you faced that reality professor. :-)

Anonymous said...

Aaron x is trying to hijack your blog. Maybe he should start his own.

Gruntled said...

He seems to have five blogs already. I am not sure why he posts irrelevant things on other people's blogs.