New greeting card idea: Life Begins at 30
January 22, 2005 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Why haven't you settled down yet? (impermanent no-login link) Time has discovered that people are no longer graduated, married, and parenting by 22. Twixters are using their 20s to jump between jobs, apartments and cities instead of becoming adults. The reasons? Colleges seriously out of step with the real world, the ubiquity of choice, declining wages and plenty more. Personally, I blame the Toys-R-Us ad song for conditioning a generation to not wanna grow up.
posted by revgeorge (103 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If "becoming an adult" is defined by graduating, marrying, and popping out a few, I definitely don't wanna grow up.
posted by still at 8:12 AM on January 22, 2005

As part of the generation described, I read this half thinking "this is news?" and half thinking "so I'm not weird?" I think I may have to send this to my parents the next time the M word comes up. I couldn't imagine having my life settled at 22 — 4 years later I'm doing things that marraige and home ownership would have completely cut me off from.
posted by revgeorge at 8:14 AM on January 22, 2005

yay moving across the country! I'm 20, 21 in six weeks, but I think this is true. Except I dropped out and decided to pursue my career goals. Which I don't recommend to people in standard careers.

However, marriage isn't necessarily out of the question if you have one person in the relationship willing to move for/with the other. Typically this should be the lower wage earner.

I do think a lot of people are declining to grow up. Now, of course, the really interesting thing is that they're declining to get married and pregnant in the years when the women's eggs are at their peak quality. Babies made at age 35 have more problems than ones made at 25. And that will prove to be an issue in the future, doubtless.

My career is far enough along that with even a smidgen of luck I should be in a stable enough job (which in my field means 3-5 years of being somewhere) to have a kid in five years, at age 25 or so. But even considering the issues with becoming a parent at age 35 or later, if my career wasn't in a decent place I'd probably make the choice to postpone that part of my life.

Fortunately, I've already got the boy involved in all of this picked out (and he's moving here in a week, WHEEEEEEEEEEE!).
posted by u.n. owen at 8:20 AM on January 22, 2005

"Babies made at age 35 have more problems than ones made at 25."

Do you have any evidence to cite that links the health-issues of babies born of older women to the quality of their reproductive cells?

Do men's reproductive cells also degrade in quality as men age?
posted by VP_Admin at 8:28 AM on January 22, 2005

"Babies made at age 35 have more problems than ones made at 25."


Anecdotal, I realize, but my mom had me at 25, and my youngest sister at 40, and that kid's been much more of a traditional sucess than I have. Mytheory was that I was more of an "experimental" child and that people got more adept at parenting with experience.
posted by jonmc at 8:34 AM on January 22, 2005

Babies made at age 35 have more problems than ones made at 25

I think what she meant to say was that statisically, childbirth can be higher risk, and that liklihood of congenital defects like down's syndrome can be elevated as the mother moves toward and past 40. From what I've read, the problem is not with the babies, it is with the risks to the mother at that age. OTOH, a woman raising a child at 35 is likely to be better adjusted, more prepared and better able to deal with the stresses of having an infant than one of 25. So there.
posted by psmealey at 8:42 AM on January 22, 2005

Okay, this is where I get annoyed with bad reporting. Suuure, social scientists are talking about this like a new phenomenon, but if the reporter had just asked a historian they would have gotten a "So what? This has been happening for centuries." All these social scientists, theorising about "reaping the fruit of decades of American affluence and social liberation" or " that whatever cultural machinery used to turn kids into grownups has broken down". But late age of marriage is a staple of Western European (and now North American) society.

From the middle ages right through, Western Europeans have been marrying in their mid to late twenties. The average age goes up in economically bad times; average age of grooms in England 1610-1730 was 27-28, and the average age of brides was 25-26 (1). The earlier marrying in the 50s was just a blip in this pattern, like the earlier age at the height of the industrial revolution (which contributed significantly to population growth).

In the 1600s, twenty-something men and women moved from job to job as either in-servants or day labourers, trying to make up enough money to settle down and marry, though a large proportion (about 10-20%) didn't (again, a figure that gets higher when the economy is worse for labouring people). During this period, they dated, partied, and generally acted like adolescents, because they were. The cultural moment when they became full adults was marriage and the foundation of an independent household. (Which does, of course, raise questions about those who didn't or couldn't.)

In many ways, the age of "adulthood" has gone down, not up. It wasn't that long ago that the age of majority for voting was 21, not 18. And in 17th century France, a 25 year old was considered enough of an adolescent that he could not marry without the permission of his parents.

So...what's the story here? We're more like the 1680s than like the 1950s?

/social historian rant done...

1. Mary Hartman, The Household and the Making of History, (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 28.
posted by jb at 8:43 AM on January 22, 2005 [42 favorites]

I cannot describe how enraged I become when I hear the term "twixters", I mean for fucks sake! What is happening to our world when jack-asses can define whole segments of the population with annoying geeky terms? (I am going to the closest closet to hide and grind my teeth)
posted by kuatto at 8:43 AM on January 22, 2005

Why haven't you settled down yet?

Because growing up and settling down is horribly dull, and young people who pursue such a path in life end up being dull people.
posted by cmonkey at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2005

Matt Swann is 27. he took 61¼2 years to graduate from the University of Georgia.

Time is funny in Georgia.
posted by bingo at 8:49 AM on January 22, 2005 [3 favorites]

get thee to a nunnery
posted by Postroad at 8:49 AM on January 22, 2005

... and getting divorced by 35, cmonkey. At least, I can tell you that, without exception, all of my friends that were married before they turned 25 are divorced now. Every single one.

As a cynical member of Generation X, who changed careers twice, and spent significant portions of the last 15 years since I got my degree in Paris, New York and Seattle, I am utterly shocked by this "recent development".
posted by psmealey at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2005

yeay! I'm defined, finally!! ;)

"Babies made at age 35 have more problems than ones made at 25."

err, I assume you mean healthwise not social?
I think statisticly the chance at down-syndrom etc raises a bit after that age, but it's detectable earlier these days by puntures.... future will tell

"Do men's reproductive cells also degrade in quality as men age?"
nope, but we carry cell-phones in our pocket, close to our future-offspring, that does damage to dna
posted by borq at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2005

bingo got to it before I did.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:57 AM on January 22, 2005

In a Time poll of people ages 18 to 29, only 32% of those who attended university left school by age 21

Which is a size extra-useful thing to know when the "standard" age to graduate college is 22, not 21.

More than anything else, this sounds like an old selection-effect for college graduates has been dissipating as higher percentages of 18 year olds start college.

Is there any evidence out there that the same sorts of people who tended to go to college in 1965 are taking longer to get through now?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:58 AM on January 22, 2005

Postroad.... speaking of a nunnery, I have a slightly offtopic question. I'd like to hear about nuns. It doesn't seem like anyone I know from the generation mentioned in Time has become / is deciding to become a nun. All the nuns I ever see seem to be old. Are they going to be extinct?
posted by banished at 9:00 AM on January 22, 2005

this just in: time magazine soothes the anxieties of their core readership and their children, just in time for the new semester.

come on people, as the old adage goes, when Time reports on it, you *know* it's been common wisdom for at least five years -- this is nothing new, and simply another in the long line of articles designed to assuage the guilt and fear of a larded, bourgeois generation that still clings to the "ideals" of the 60s.
posted by yonation at 9:04 AM on January 22, 2005

Society no longer provides young people with the moral backbone and the financial wherewithal to take their rightful places in the adult world.

Silly me. Here I thought that spending my twenties figuring out where I would be happy, what I would be happy doing, and who I would be happy with made for a better life. And this baby I'm currently "making" (or rather growing) at 34/35, poor thing - he would have been so much better off with me in my twenties, had I simply learned to settle for the job my B.A. degree prepared me for (Waitressing) and the creep I dated in college, and not had a stable relationship, job, and mental outlook.

Why is college getting all the blame? We've been artificially inflating childhood throughout the past century, and with common methods of controlling teenagers ranging from infantile restrictions on one end or overpampering on the other, why is anyone surprised that college can't provide instant maturity? Let 'em out of childhood at 16, I say; give them a few years to mingle adult consequences with youthful exuberance, and maybe you'll get your 20-something brides back.
posted by bibliowench at 9:05 AM on January 22, 2005

jb has it. It's all about economics. I know plenty of young couples who can't afford to set up house for quite some time, let alone afford college. I can name at least three other couples who decided to buck the system and have the baby before the marriage, for the sole reason that the state would pay for the medical expenses if they were unmarried.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:08 AM on January 22, 2005

Twixters? Adultescence? Kidults? From what asses do they pluck these terms?! Ditto, kuatto. It makes me want to smash things. Reading "twixters" in every other sentence distracted me, and made it hard for me to take this article seriously.

That said, and being in this age group, I have to point out that this bit really sums it up:
To them, the period from 18 to 25 is a kind of sandbox, a chance to build castles and knock them down, experiment with different careers, knowing that none of it really counts. After all, this is a world of overwhelming choice: in the States alone Galantha can find 40 kinds of coffee beans at Whole Foods Market, 205 channels on DirecTV, 15 million personal ads on and 800,000 jobs on Can you blame her for wanting to try them all? She doesn’t want to play just the hand she has been dealt. She wants to look through the whole deck. “My problem is I’m really overstimulated by everything,” Galantha says. “I feel there’s too much information out there at all times. There are too many doors, too many people, too much competition.”
Yes, I do want it all.
posted by furious blush at 9:12 AM on January 22, 2005

So, is choosing to not to breed and choosing not to add to the overpopulation of the planet is somehow not growing up? Is choosing to wait until you can afford to support a kid immature?

Or would the NYT and these scientists prefer that I abandon all use of birth control and start impregnating the hell out of my girlfriend on a regular basis?


These Sultans of Suck couldn't organize a nun-shoot in a nunnery. I sure as hell won't let them tell me if/and/or/when it's right for me to "settle down", much less define WTF "settling down" is.

Hell, my idea of settling down has always been to go buy a huge warehouse and start a co-op and hang out with filthy hippies and weirdos.

Things aren't even weird yet. Bring on the Rhizomes. Bring on the not-so-temporary autonomous zones. Bring on the deconstructed, post industrial-age life.

Things are only going to get weirder, and I hope that if they try to define it as outsiders rather than experiencing it as insiders it gets stuck in their craw and all their tidy little social models break like so many cheap, imported toys.
posted by loquacious at 9:27 AM on January 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

sonofsamiam -

It isn't just about economics, it's about the Western European (England, Northern France, Germany, Netherlands, Scandinavia) cultural norm for the 700 years (at least). In other cultures (Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa), people could and did marry before being able to set up their own household, because the culture had an ideal of multi-generational rather than nuclear. Economics does determine how easily this independent household is acheived, and explains the variation over time (from early to late twenties). But the basic pattern was always there (and is unique in the Old World, particularly in the late age of marriage for women - the book I cited earlier by Hartman explores the potential significance for historical development).

Of course, this article mixes up middle class and lower class situations without thinking about how they would be different. Delaying marriage and children until you are able to have a stable household is a middling sort strategy - it is a cultural norm not shared by all in Western society. Poorer people have lower expectations for their financial security, and may be willing to marry in situations richer people are not (especially as they may never see financial security).

But what I was really ranting about is the sheer mole short sightenedness I band my head against EVERYWHERE. This entire article is trying to talk about a social phenomenon that is centuries in the making, with no reference to anything pre-1945, let alone actual history. Those social scientists are trying to pull answers out of the air when the historical demographers have a ton of information on marrying age and patterns since the 16th century at least (they have evidence of a norm of late marriage earlier, but not statistical support), information that blows open most of the theories presented in this article. They are looking for 20th/21st century answers to at least 16th to 21st century question.

HISTORY - Everyone needs to study more of it.
posted by jb at 9:29 AM on January 22, 2005 [4 favorites]

Not wanting / Not being able to afford a house and family doesn't make you a child. NPR has a good retort. Its alot harder to say what it is that make you an adult.
posted by ludflu at 9:30 AM on January 22, 2005

I guess George and Laura Bush are poster children for this lifestyle pattern.
posted by bobo123 at 9:30 AM on January 22, 2005

Sorry - I was banging my head against the wall too hard to spell "bang" correctly.
posted by jb at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2005

I am over 40; and am still avoiding my first divorce. My friends at are the 50 percent rate of divorce with their first marriage. Being single through my 20s and 30s (and so on) has had advantages; but it doesn't fit the nice, neat traditional model so we have a breaking story. (Oh, we also have online dating services because finding the "right one shouldn't be so hard."
Oh brother...
posted by fluffycreature at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2005

Another question. The article says "In a Time poll of people ages 18 to 29, only 32% of those who attended university left school by age 21."

Now most ALL of the people I know in the generation TIME is talking about graduated high school at 18, meaning, even if they graduated in 4 years they'd graduate at 22, not 21. Was it more common in the past to graduate from high school by 17?
posted by banished at 9:39 AM on January 22, 2005

Brilliant, yonation -- it seemed to be that everything about this article smacked of trying too hard, and you've pin-pointed why that is. It has to do with Time trying to make their demographic feel better about themselves for the state their children are in, which is largely caused by the socio-economic climate they created.
posted by Ardbeg at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2005

It's about sex. If you believe in premarital sex (and birth control) and especially if you believe in living together before marriage, you're less inclined to get married (too) early. Why do you think all of the very religious folks get married so early?
posted by callmejay at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2005

it's my observation that the people who "settle down" by age 25 often start acting like "twixters" by age 50, especially when they get divorced ... but who tells them to grow up?

5 years to finish a 4 year degree? ... my brother did that, not because he wanted to but because he couldn't work out the scheduling ... moving from job to job ... does anyone seriously expect they're going to be in one job for the rest of their lives? ... not buying a house, getting married, raising kids? ... well, why should they when it takes years to afford to?

much of what this article describes is people making fairly rational choices about the situation they find themselves in ... and their reward for this responsibility is the thought that they're not mature ...

typical american cultural bullshit ... defining maturity as what one has and not what one is
posted by pyramid termite at 9:44 AM on January 22, 2005

I cannot describe how enraged I become when I hear the term "twixters"

Yeah, seriously. I was amazed that someone had figured out a word more annoying than tweens (you know, 10- to 12-year-olds). But there it is.

There are a couple of words in that article that are even more grating. Youthhood is simply redundant, as it can't mean anything different from the word youth, which we already have. And adultescence? Someone with little or no knowledge of Latin is making words from it that don't mean anything. About all that could mean is the act of growing up over and over again, which isn't what they mean—they're trying to be cute and combine two words, but they're doing so in ways that make no sense.

on preview: Why do you think all of the very religious folks get married so early?

So that they don't go blind?
posted by oaf at 9:44 AM on January 22, 2005

there seem to be a lot of changes in public education that are outside of individuals' control yet make a big difference in their life choices. for example, more people go to college than used to, and even more seem to be pursuing graduate degrees. and those who go to public universities have trouble getting all the credits they need in four years, right? seems ridiculous to take data of when people are finishing school now v. before and conclude that they're being less--instead of more--conscientious.

on preview--what pyramid termite said.
posted by equipoise at 9:45 AM on January 22, 2005

I am curious whether you posters feel there is an age at which people should be self-supporting and no longer getting benefits (money, free or subsidized living quarters, etc.) from their parents? This is a different question from the age at which one wishes to (or is finally able to) get married, have children, buy a house, etc.
posted by Sixtieslibber at 9:48 AM on January 22, 2005

This just in -- mainstream news outlet shocked that Baby Boomers' children live lives different than their parents'! Also in this issue, teenagers are having the oral sex! And Tom Wolfe reveals the terrible truth of "college marriage!"
posted by aaronetc at 9:51 AM on January 22, 2005

jb, thanks for the book suggestion. It sounds fascinating.
posted by goatdog at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2005

It's funny to watch everyone here in the target demographic react violently to their pet peeve. The article was broad and generalized enough to cover them all.

Here's my pet issue that sticks in my craw:

Unless you live in a remote small town in the US (which probably doesn't offer any good high paying jobs), there's honestly no way someone could afford to buy a house at the age of 23-25 like they did in the 50s and 60s. The only people I know that had their own house in their 20s either had some good fortune (stock market) or bad fortune (parents dying and leaving them $100k), while the other 90% of my friends toiled away hoping to someday make that $30k-100k downpayment.

The world is a very different place today, wages are down, homes are way up. I think things were different in 1968, when my dad was a mail carrier or a cop at age 24 and could buy a house, get married, and have a child, all on a single income.

Economics is a bitch.
posted by mathowie at 10:07 AM on January 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

Just to screw up the cliched statistics, I waited until late 20s to get married and after 14 years, I'll probably divorce anyhow. She was 25 when we married, so that beats the 22 threshold by a little.
posted by alumshubby at 10:12 AM on January 22, 2005

The funny thing is this same article could have been writen 15 years ago for GenX'ers, but instead we were called "slackers" and driftless and lazy and other pejorative things. Now a new generation is taking our place and they don't get the same negative assesment. Rather, they are on the edge of somthing "new".
posted by stbalbach at 10:13 AM on January 22, 2005

Can someone please kill the word Twixsters before it spreads.

It is essential for strong family ties and trust to prevail throughout this trying period. Parents have to be careful not to come across as disappointed in their child.

What's the point of the article, that we should all get married and have kids, make our wives drop out of school so they can sit at home, watch soaps and change diapers and chant 'jesus, jesus, jesus' at our kids.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2005

mathowie: Amen and hallelujah. Add paying back all those student loans on top of that (for those of us who went to and graduated from college), and saving up for a house is a bitch and a half. I honestly don't see myself having that sort of money saved up until I'm at least thirty (two and a half years from now), and that's only because I managed to pay off some student loans a bit early.

And after seeing what my cousins have paid for their condos... home buying is the sort of thing that would make me nervous anyway, since it's such a huge investment.
posted by May Kasahara at 10:17 AM on January 22, 2005

typical american cultural bullshit ... defining maturity as what one has and not what one is

I love you.
posted by metaldark at 10:21 AM on January 22, 2005

I agree with the economics angle... it's been a tough decade for me, and even with what everybody *said* were going to be good earnin' skills (software), I'm just starting to feel like I'm getting to the point where I could maintain an income which could buy a home, support a family, etc.

But also, the idea of social change resonates. Maybe I've read too much Wendell Berry, but it's easy to see that we invest more in our individual lives than in an ongoing, local community that's perpetuated in the pattern of finding a spouse and having kids. Part of this is also because of the disolution of community, too, though -- the economic and social incentives created by such an enduring have largely been removed in many places, so we hop looking for the best opportunity. This really should be an expected consequence from an epistemology that values things largely in the way that a market does...
posted by weston at 10:24 AM on January 22, 2005

mathowie: 100k for a downpayment on a first house? Holy fuck! The downpayment on my first house was like 7k, and I had to sell plasma and sperm just to get the cash together....
posted by spilon at 10:30 AM on January 22, 2005

Yesterday I was listening to a piece on NPR about this. The twentysomething author/commentator basically found the proposed names for this demographic group insulting. She also opines that part of the problem is that changes to the student aid/loan rules in the Bush I administration and the, uh, quality of currently available entry level positions has resulted in them simply not having the money for houses and weddings and kids and health insurance and all that stuff.

Short version, "They say we aren't responsible, and that's why we haven't done this stuff. Really, we're putting off this stuff because we are responsible enough to know we can't afford it yet."
posted by ilsa at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2005

Jesus, I was in the bookstore yesterday and saw this issue of Time.

posted by 235w103 at 10:52 AM on January 22, 2005

I agree with much of what has been said in this thread, though I sense that a certain defensiveness underlies many of the comments. Many of us seem to live this kind of life, but are unwilling or unable to give a convincing, unqualified defense of it. Is it because this peripatetic life is more often restless and uncertain than gloriously unencumbered (or is it just me)?

I also find it interesting that so many people seem to assume that (suburban?) home ownership and two established, successful careers are prerequisites for starting a family. I admire the origin of this sentiment - wanting to provide a healthy, stable child-rearing environment, etc., but it can degenerate into a phenomenon my father is fond of deriding: kids as merely another lifestyle accessory for the upwardly-mobile, professional couple. Two careers, check. Down payment, check. SUV, check. Young 'uns, check.

Sorry, I wandered into David Brooks territory there for a moment, but you get the point.

jb has contributed valuable historical context to this thread, and I think it is indeed necessary to begin there if we wish to understand this phenomenon. What, then, is the cause? Why are Western households expected to be nuclear and independent, and why has this expectation developed to the point that the nuclear family itself is viewed as only one of many potential means by which the individual can become satisfied and independent? I tend to think that the causes are not exclusively economic, and have more to do with the primacy and uniqueness of the individual in Western thought, and hence in Western society as well. The germ of this seems to lie in Christianity itself, though the explicit idea that we are all reasoning, self-determining, rights-bearing human beings was the central feature of the secular, humanist Enlightenment in Europe. (Sorry, pedantic, I know).

It has now 'advanced' to the point that we not only expect complete satisfaction in our lives and complete fulfillment of all our human capacities in our careers, we feel entitled to remake our surroundings in whatever way is necessary to achieve this. We see our lives as works of art, all aspects of which can be molded to suit our tastes - this includes, of course, received definitions of success and traditional patterns of marriage and families. There is something incredibly bold and exciting about this - deciding for oneself what is good, what is right, what is success, what is happiness. Who am I, and what do I want this work of art that is my life to look like?

Trouble is, most of us are lousy artists.

(Or maybe that's just me again).
posted by Urban Hermit at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2005

I graduated high school at 17 (my birthday is in the summer). I started college at age 18, went for the standard 4 years, and graduated at 22. Almost all of that 32% who left college by 21 were dropouts. The rest were highly gifted people who skipped a grade or managed to graduate in three years. Talk about a bad statistic.

"Twixters" are using their 20s to jump between jobs, apartments and cities instead of becoming adults.

Who wrote this, Focus on the Family? Anyway, I prefer to be called a Kit-Katter.

On a completely off-topic note, does anyone know why the quotation marks won't copy in Firefox and Linux?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2005

Unless you live in a remote small town in the US (which probably doesn't offer any good high paying jobs), there's honestly no way someone could afford to buy a house at the age of 23-25

You're generalizing from California prices.

A twenty-something could easily afford a house in many cities. Here in D/FW, or in Pittsburgh, Buffalo/Rochester, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Orlando, Cleveland, Richmond, Little Rock, Tampa/StPete, Springfield, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Albany, Greensboro/Triad, Cincinnatti, Dayton, Memphis, Nashville, Indianapolis, Lexington...

While none of these are San Francisco or Boston, they're all also pretty damn far from being a small, remote town.

You also have to compare similar homes and lifestyles. It's a lot easier to buy a house young if you're willing to get the sorts of houses that young people bought in the 1950s -- small houses with one small bathroom on a small lot, and in combination with eating at restaurants only rarely and otherwise skimping on lots of things.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2005

mathowie nailed it ; it's the economic , stupid. Many probably remember the idea that one kid should have left parent at age 18 to get a contact with harsh-reality and eventually learn to handle it..while maybe still living with parents.

Today it's not really an option, you can't leave parents house without a stable source of income, as it's much more economical to pay parents or help parents pay for house then getting a new house for yourself.

But hey the stock market is going well (until next announcement) and the company is doing good ! Unfortunately you're much more miserable now then in 50ies.
posted by elpapacito at 11:08 AM on January 22, 2005

I am curious whether you posters feel there is an age at which people should be self-supporting and no longer getting benefits (money, free or subsidized living quarters, etc.) from their parents?

14 or 15. Maybe 16, at the latest. Just because you don't grow up and become another boring middle class worker bee with a mortgage and a car and furniture from Ikea doesn't mean you shouldn't take care of yourself and enjoy life from an early age.
posted by cmonkey at 11:10 AM on January 22, 2005

Back in New Testament days true adulthood was considered to begin at age 30.
posted by konolia at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2005

On a completely off-topic note, does anyone know why the quotation marks won't copy in Firefox and Linux?

Because I have a soft-spot in my heart for the largely unknown <q> element and Firefox doesn't treat the rendered "s as text for some reason.
posted by revgeorge at 11:12 AM on January 22, 2005

Your notion of how I should be living my life makes me giggle, Time Magazine.
posted by rushmc at 11:14 AM on January 22, 2005

I also find it interesting that so many people seem to assume that (suburban?) home ownership and two established, successful careers are prerequisites for starting a family.

This rings true to me. If you'll tolerate another anecdote, my Mom told me that when I was a toddler we moved out of the apartment building we lived in when the landlord said "you can't raise a child in an apartment, you've gotta have a house."

The whole sentiment is strange since plenty of apartment-dwellers and single parents have raised perfectly fine children.

The world is a very different place today, wages are down, homes are way up. I think things were different in 1968, when my dad was a mail carrier or a cop at age 24 and could buy a house, get married, and have a child, all on a single income.

This economic theory makes sense, too. In the late sixties and early seventies, the suburban single-family house was still a viable option for lower-middle to middle-class Americans, but they've been priced out of that market. My folks have told me that if they were a young couple starting out today with nothing else being different, they'd never be able to manage it. It's sort of like there's a whole other gentrification going on out in the suburbs, too.
posted by jonmc at 11:14 AM on January 22, 2005

I cannot describe how enraged I become when I hear the term "twixters"

There, there. Have a Twix.
posted by kindall at 11:16 AM on January 22, 2005

You old people get offa my lawn!
posted by breath at 11:22 AM on January 22, 2005

It's definitely all about the money. I am right now making the amount of money that, when I was 20 (in 1985), was the amount of money I believed I'd be far more than happy to make, that would buy me a house and a nice car and be enough to support a family, where I would feel "rich," etc...

...Except that because of the falling buying power of the dollar (IIRC it's near a historic low right now) over time, I would now need to make better than double that to even have a shot at those things. At this point I'm out of debt and able to save, but that's only been the past couple of years - I've always pursued non-standard careers, and basically the job I have now I took because I was in major financial trouble from those pursuits. I'm sure had I done something more mainstream, I'd be at that "better than double" my current income spot, probably would have hit it 10 years ago actually. That really held no attraction for me, so I didn't.

I'm 39, and technically I'm a Gen Xer, born in the first year of that generation. I'd say about 2/3 of my friends my age went more mainstream and have gotten married and had kids etc. Probably about 1/3, including my cousin who's 2 years younger than me, are still married and living a nice family life. But as mentioned above, that live is relatively "dull" and nearly all their (and their spouse's) efforts, energy and income is spent just maintaining that lifestyle.

I've talked to my cousin many times about the contrasts in our lives, and what comes from him often is the cost, the cost, the cost, and how hard he and his wife have to work to keep that steady stream of cash coming in - and of course going right back out - on top of dealing with all the logistics of the household, and being the best parents they can be to their two young daughters. The sacrifices are huge.

Of course, my sacrifices are huge too, just different. Basically, I have sacrificed having that family life like my cousin's, and he and his wife have sacrificed the kind of adventurous life that I lead.

I think that this "trend" Time is talking about is a good thing overall - because young people realize the tradeoff between the "adventure" life and the "family" life, and decide to have the adventures while they're young, and do the family life later. Good plan.

Besides, if you do something non-standard, there's often a chance for a HUGE financial payoff - big risk can bring big reward, and you can set yourself up for life. In my case, if my high-risk first career choice had worked out, I would have made a ridiculous amount of money in my mid-20's, and by 30 I would never have had to work another day in my life, and right now I'd be raising my kids wherever I wanted to. It didn't happen... but it was worth the chance.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

Urban Hermit - Thank you for your comment (drawing attention back to the historical demography of Western Europe), but I'm afraid that you are wrong about the roots.

Christianity has nothing to do with it. These marriage patterns pre-date the Reformation by some time (at least a century or more), and yet do not appear in Southern Europe (Southern France, Italy, etc) or Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, etc), all of which are traditionally Christian regions (and had been for longer). The marriage pattern also appears to hold through the most religiously feverent period of British history (the 17th century) as well as through the recent rapid decline in organised religion in the late twentieth century. Hartman claims the Western European pattern of late female marriage is unique in the Old World (Europe, Asia and Africa), but I don't know if it is unique over the whole world - I would love to hear if people can add to this (from native North or South American marriage practices, Australian, Polynesian, etc). I haven't gotten far in her book, so don't know her conclusions yet.

It's a cultural phenomenon, which isn't well understood at all. No one knows why marriages began to follow this pattern - if they ever did begin. Who knows but that this is the older pattern, and young marriage (for women) into another family is the innovation. It's lost in prehistory, unless some archeologists can shed light on child-bearing. My point was that this current situation is not a change, but a continuation of a very long term phenomenon.

That said, I suppose people in the early 17th century sat around complaining about how a copyhold was so much harder to get than in the early 16th century, before the land market got tight.
posted by jb at 11:40 AM on January 22, 2005

this just in: time magazine soothes the anxieties of their core readership and their children, just in time for the new semester.

spot on. soooooo spot on.
posted by ifjuly at 11:46 AM on January 22, 2005

Oh, holy crap. I just noticed that there's a [twixters] tag on this thread. Why, revgeorge, why?!

Matt, you know what to do.

*presents Matt with his Imperial Death Raygun on a velvet pillow, then munches on a Twix*
posted by loquacious at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2005


I graduated high school at 17 (my birthday is in the summer). I started college at age 18, went for the standard 4 years, and graduated at 22.

I don't get that. Doesn't the "standard" college year end in the Spring? If you started college in Autumn of your eighteenth year, and your birthday isn't until summer, that means you were a freshman during Spring of your eighteenth year. Three years later, you would be a Senior, and 21 years old. If you graduated that Spring, before your birthday in the summer, you would have graduated at 21.

Unless your college graduation was later in the year than your high school graduation, and your birthday occurred in the interim.

(I also graduated high school at 17, with a birthday in the summer. But I graduated from college, after 4 years, at 21.)
posted by mr_roboto at 12:03 PM on January 22, 2005

Wow. Talk about inconsistent capitalization....

And I agree: that "graduated college at 21" statistic is bullshit. The people who should be graduating from 4 year colleges at 21 are the people with their birthdays in the Summer. So 32% seems about right (or even a little high).
posted by mr_roboto at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2005

graduating college at 21 means you don't ever get the joy of drinking legally while being a student. Erm, 'joy' should be in quotes, as when it's legal, drinking like one does in college is problematic, rather than rebellious.

I'd spend more time on this thread, but I got to run by Home Depot, then maybe, if I have time, Bed, Bath and Beyond.
posted by wah at 12:12 PM on January 22, 2005

Don't have much to add, but I found it interesting that the article defined someone who "didn't ever want a lawn" and "didn't ever want to drive two hours to work" as having a fear of growing up. If adulthood means having to spend two hours a day commuting, then count me out...

Thanks to JB for his comments. I was also under the impression that there's nothing odd for southern Europeans (Greeks, Italians) to be living at home till their late 20s, but I could be wrong here?
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2005

1. 24 - 28 Year Olds are adults.

2. The author of the Time Magazine article, Lev Grossman, is almost certainly a Baby Boomer. He writes from a Boomer mentality.

3. The article is insulting and narcassistic, and here's why: (What follows is a letter I wrote to Time in response to their piece.)

I was disappointed by Lev Grossman's article "Grow Up? Not So Fast", which is a prime example of generational stereotyping. I am 24 years old, married, have a 9-month old daughter, and we are financially indepedent. From his opening call to "Meet the twixters. They're not kids anymore, but they're not adults either", Grossman sets a tone of infantilization for this generational cohort of 24 to 28 year olds, who most certainly are adults. Because members of this group are financially incapable of entering full adulthood, they are labelled "twixters", which sounds like a kind of cheap candy. The reader is advised not to call them "Generation X or slackers"; two labels which are presumably synonymous, and then goes on to characterize these "twixters" in exactly the same fashion members of Generation X have been characterized: as late-marrying, unambitious consumers who rely on their Boomer parents to provide for them.

Though Grossman does acknowledge such trends as the increased debt heaped upon recent college graduates (85% more owed in student loans and 100% more owed in credit card debt than just a decade ago), along with the annual drop in earnings for men 25 to 34 from 1971 to 2002 of 17%, these economic considerations are not the central focus of the piece. Instead, the author lambasts a generation who are struggling to compete in a world that presents significantly more obstacles than their parents faced: "Snuggled up under their Star Wars comforters, [the future] can look all downhill." Grossman reflects that "if txisters are ever going to grow up, they need the means to do it--and they will have to want to." True. Perhaps we should also be called something other than "twixters."

Ultimately, Grossman offers no real solutions. He might have advised Boomers to address the rising costs of college tuition in an increasingly competitive world or to follow their parents' example and begin to retire as their children enter adulthood. Simply put, Boomers do not recognize how significantly the world has changed and can only address the problem in terms of their own experience: why are my kids still living at home? Boomers have themselves to blame. We learned ambivalence and career indirection when the Boomers traded their ambitions of the 1960's for their paychecks of the 1980's. Similarly, our romantic explorations are rooted in Boomer divorce rates. It's disconcerting to read an article devoted to "twixters" who live with their parents in which the parents are never discussed in any meaningful way.
posted by schambers at 12:54 PM on January 22, 2005

Infinite Jest - Unfortunately, I don't know the social history of Southern Europe very well. According to Mary Hartman,early modern (c. 1500-1800) Southern Europe, including Italy, had mixed forms of marriage, some early, some late. But most of her sources are English, which is my field.

The other main pattern of marriage in Eurasia (again, largely according to Hartman, I would be happy to hear of variations) is where a young woman (mid-teens) marries into her husband's family. This was the ideal in pre-modern China, for example. A lot of research has focused on the differences between the family structure (nuclear versus extended), but as it happens, the difference in household size is not significant (large nuclear families with servants, small extended families). The main difference is the age of marriage for women - the Western European pattern was for women to marry about a decade later. Men, on the other hand, generally married only a few years later on average (mid to late twenties, rather than early to mid). Whichever system prevailed in Italy, men would have been living at home until fairly late in the pre-modern period, and might have even stayed there for their entire lives (again, this was the ideal in China). This was apparently the cultural norm among Basques in southern France in the 16th century, according to Natalie Zemon Davis.
posted by jb at 1:15 PM on January 22, 2005

The world is an awful place. I will spend as much of my time as possible in the learning institutions and as little supporting the disturbing live-to-work mindset of North Americans. My end goal is to find something to do I enjoy enough that it doesn't make me want to drown myself in the tub (I could do anything from free-lance writing to copy editing, for example), then hopefully I'll earn enough to be comfortable and travel around the world.

Hopefully all of this will happen with a wonderful woman, but whether we're married or not is of little or no consequence to me. I'd also like to adopt children*, but a lot of that will depend on what the lady wants (if she exists).

I'm twenty-two; I'll finish my B.A. in English next year (five-year degree since I decided to drop classes I don't like instead of struggling through them--it's not like it's a real career-type degree, so I might as well enjoy what I learn). Maybe I fit the description in the article.


* My friend's family runs a campsite and she told me that every summer a large contingent of parents that adopted children from Haiti gather together for a week or two. Something like that would be neat, I think.
posted by The God Complex at 1:16 PM on January 22, 2005

It might not even be a question of having too many options, it may be that the plan for settling down is just further away. For me prsonally, the plan is 4 year college (which I'm almost done with), then grad school, and then a couple of years working abroad to figure out what I want to do with my doctorate. It puts me not 'settling down' til 10 years after high school...I'll be 28. I think I'll be ready to 'grow up' then.
posted by nile_red at 1:22 PM on January 22, 2005

posted by shoepal at 1:38 PM on January 22, 2005

Oops, mr_roboto's right. I was 21 when I graduated. Still, most people would be 22 by the time they graduate.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:40 PM on January 22, 2005

instead of becoming adults
How is it that they avoid becoming adults? Cryogenics?

If "becoming an adult" means living the way your parents lived at a given age, it could be argued that very few people in North America have become adults since about 1900 or so.
posted by 4easypayments at 1:54 PM on January 22, 2005

I'm 27, house ownership isn't on my agenda for several years at least, marriage isn't on the radar, and kids...heh. I've arrived in the place intentionally, and like where I'm at.

Social scientists are starting to realize that a permanent shift has taken place in the way we live our lives.

I love how academics are 10 years behind everyone else.
posted by MillMan at 1:58 PM on January 22, 2005

I don't know how to respond to some of these postings. Look at my previous post: It. Is. About. MONEY!

Gen Xers are the first generation who can expect a net decline in their quality of life. To put it another way, they are the first generation since before WWII who cannot and should not expect to live better than their parents. There are lots of complicated reasons why this is true, but it is. And it's about money.
posted by schambers at 1:59 PM on January 22, 2005

this article doesn't make any sense to me. 24-28 year olds aren't able to take responsibility because of college debt or am i misunderstanding this? wouldn't $100,000 worth of debt be considered a responsibility? and wouldn't NOT buying a house on top of that debt be the responsible thing to do?

clearly, this man only has one frame of reference : WWTBBD? (what would the baby boomers do?)

also, i'd like to defy classification by announcing that i graduated college and married at 22, moved to europe (from the US), and sublet rather than rent my apartment. obviously my goal is to only live up to HALF of the expectations my parents' generation has for me.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2005

If this has been covered in this thread & I missed it, I apologize, but I believe a lot of the previous necessity of marriage has fallen by the wayside as well, so the institution/marriage relationship itself has changed over the last century in and of itself. When my ancestors married, women were not allowed to own property or to even eat at restaurants alone. In order for my great grandmother to inherit property, she had to be married so that it could be left to her husband (and to her by default). My mother's first marriage to an Air Force officer was not for love, but rather to leave home and gain some independence she desperately wanted after her mother turned down her opportunity for a scholarship to USC because "women didn't need college." (Add to that the fact that a lot of young couples married quickly during & after WW2 so that they could have approved sex before guys left for the armed services... there was a lot of peer pressure going on to get hitched & be respectable.) Nowadays, these things don't apply. Women don't need to get married to survive the way they once did.

I can only speak for myself. My mother had me when she was 40 so I've always known it was an option. My parents' divorce was so nasty that I (as someone else mentioned) am still avoiding my first divorce. Between my three sisters, there have been three divorces already. In the last few years my best friends married, had kids, gave up their careers, and are stressed out and struggling constantly just as I'm reaching the point where my life and career are starting to bloom and I'm starting to relax & work towards an early retirement. Meanwhile, now my friends rarely have time to talk to anyone or spend time that's not kid-related & when they do take the time, they often sound exhausted and depressed. Having kids is wonderful and I always wanted to have a few myself, but looking around at my life and at the other options, I'd be an idiot to complain or rethink my lot in life because TIME says it's not what it should be.

And I beg to differ that because you don't marry you're not grown up. After spending the day with my friends as they speak constant baby talk and get covered in poo and vomit, my life feels pretty freaking adult in comparison.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:13 PM on January 22, 2005

Exactly, thank you grapefruitmoon.
posted by schambers at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2005

I just realized where I read this theory before - it's in the prologue/appendix to Lord of the Rings, the one that explains the delayed adolescence of Hobbits.

Tolkien calls them the 'tween years, not the twixts, but otherwise it's exactly the same story.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:06 PM on January 22, 2005

schambers: Look at my previous post: It. Is. About. MONEY!

I just don't agree with that. I (as most of us have said) also fall into this wide and annoying demographic, but not because I felt that I needed more money before settling down and/or growing up. It's because I don't think growing up means you have to get married, have kids, and stop playing.

Personally, I'm pretty sure that we have all tasted the fun that we were supposed to grow out of and realized we could have our cake and eat it too (corporate job by day that affords us the parties and shows by night).
posted by bikergirl at 6:40 PM on January 22, 2005

Something about the whole debate this article is trying to capture really bores me. Maybe it's the huge generalization that all people of a certain age are living as "Twixters". I know of plenty who aren't- friends who are marrying young, fellow students who will be financially independent as soon as they graduate due to pursuing business, etc. Maybe it's just that I feel like I've been reading about this for years. Or maybe I'm still mad that the author compared me to Britney Spears.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:58 PM on January 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

There's also something incredibly middle-class about this article. Clearly the S. Texas have-a-baby-then-go-to-college-late crowd that I see at university every day got left out. Like always.

My college has a daycare. Also an entire floor of an entire building devoted to ROTC. And the kids here are trying to be J.Lo, not Britney.
posted by MiHail at 8:01 PM on January 22, 2005

Speaking as 33 year old, I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear you guys got the shitty generational name. Twixters, WTF?!

As to the article, I'm reminded of a comment by a news paper editor: "I can't wait till the baby boomers die, so we can take all those old, crappy cartoons off the cartoon page and put some new stuff in."

That quote can applied to many situations. Screw the baby boomers and their opinions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 PM on January 22, 2005

How NOT to Buy Happiness

Very loosely, the above essay is an economic antithesis to the article in discussion. It correlates happiness to observable behaviors associated with well-being. Its thesis is that money is more wisely spent on inconspicuous consumption such as travel, education, programs for cleaner air or a better environment in general, and freedom from a long commute or a stressful job vs. conspicuous goods such as bigger houses, faster cars, and luxury items/status symbols.

If anything, our generation is right on tack in realizing that life is not all about houses and cars and high-paying jobs and "settling down". It's about finding out what we really want to do, where we really want to be, and what we really want to have or not have, and taking our time about it. If anything, we choose not to succumb to the pressure of "oh you should've done XXthis and YYthat by ZZtime" and know that we shouldn't, and aren't going to, rush ourselves. We're taking our sweet time with our choices because we've seen the great big messy upheavals of our parents' mistakes, hence all the precaution. Whatever the final choice, it better be the right one!

So yes, we ARE going to continue to flit from place to place to find the right one, and only after that will we THEN buy a home there; switch from job to job until we find what we are best at and most fullfilled with and THEN stay; see people until we find the one we best fit with and THEN maybe settle down. We know that we're volatile free radicals and that we aren't ready yet.

It's not at all about not wanting to grow up. It's about not wanting to do it prematurely.
posted by furious blush at 9:05 PM on January 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

That quote can be applied to many generations, too. Screw the twixters and their opinions. Screw the Gen X-ers and their opinions.

Also, I've always thought that "boomer" was an insulting name for a generation. I feel cheated having to share my generational name with those 60s hippies. People my age (47) who were in college in the late 70s probably have more in common with the Gen X-ers, anyway.

The only generation with a good name is "the greatest generation".
posted by rfs at 9:10 PM on January 22, 2005

Another thought I had related to this, and it kind of ties in with the quality of life angle, and wanting to make the right choices, and more.

How many of these supposedly "settled" people/couples are doing so at the cost and risk of extreme and outstanding debt?

I may not have the trappings of success or wealth, I might have poor cash flow, but I'm certainly not up to my eyeballs in debt. I'm free.

Heh, maybe we're the responsible ones. That scares the crap out of me.
posted by loquacious at 9:33 PM on January 22, 2005

I was born in 1979, and turned 26 last Thursday. That makes me the same age as Alice Miller's amazing book The Drama of the Gifted Child.

Combine her ideas with The Paradox of Choice and I'm not surprised to read this story in Time (and to feel, ouch I never thought this word would apply to me, normal in comparison with my peers).

Raising perfectionist children and then letting them loose with nearly unlimited choices? Nah, that wouldn't cause anyone to stall about choosing tradition.

College educated America (and I do think compulsatory college education is part of the problem). Whoo. At least I learned something in college, how to write a synthesis and hopefully not embarrass myself
online. (caution: contains link to a month old dream that has way too much to do with this thread). Bless my first post with yr favorite deity.
posted by GlitterBum at 10:14 PM on January 22, 2005

Time Magazine has officially become America's Mom.
posted by drezdn at 10:29 PM on January 22, 2005

College educated America (and I do think compulsatory college education is part of the problem).

When did college edjumacation become compulsatory?
posted by jonmc at 6:50 AM on January 23, 2005

This isn't news. Postponed marriage has been a trend for the past 20 or 30 years. I'm 42. After college, most of my friends bounced from city to city, lover to lover, job to job, and this continued well into their late 20's. It's a pretty good strategy. Without a family you can save money and stay out of debt during the low-earning years. You are unencumbered if you need to pick up and move, having made youthful mistakes about career choices, living choices, and so on. Most of the people I know who married young ended up divorced. They got it right the second time around in their 30's. I didn't get married until I was 38, and while I knew some great women over the years, I would have been unhappy in a permanent relationship with most of them. Now I have a great job, great wife, great kid, and I live in the greatest city in the world, after too many years in shitholes in crappy jobs and relationships. Hold out for the dream life, it is attainable.
Until it all explodes and you are crushed like a bug, hahaha.
posted by Slagman at 7:53 AM on January 23, 2005

Oh, yeah, and I was technically on the tail end of the baby boom and got to walk through the wreckage of their exploding lives... disco, cocaine, swinging, divorce, yellow ties, bad white wine, all overanalyzed with self-centered pomposity, oh thank you so much. I tweak them whenever I can, they still don't get it, and we have them to thank for all these terms, generation x, twixters, my God. For a while I identified with a lot of the stuff associated with "genx' until I started to notice demographic-label-creep. It used to apply to people born from say, 1962-66 to 1972-76. I was born in 62. Hell, the guy who wrote "Generation X" is a year older than me. But when I was in my mid-30's, they were still calling people in their early 20's generation x. I had nothing in common with those young folks at that point but I envied them that the media was mislabeling them. When the media mislabels you, the media doesn't see you, and to some degree leaves you alone.
Poor twixters. Imagine the 50 year old twixter many years from now, sitting in the bar, thinking, "I'm a twixter, dammit. What happened to me?" Don't fall for the hype. People are individuals. You really can't label people this way. The only group that really behaved in this mass way in significant numbers was the huge Baby Boomer demographic. They grew up watching the same four shows on TV, reading the same books, with the same crazy world war II vet Dads and repressed 50's hairdo prefeminist moms in a world that was rich in conformity. They went crazy for a while because of a bad war and the discovery of pot and LSD. Many of them now vote Republican and send young men to war. They need these labels so they can understand you. Fuck'em. Fly under the radar.
posted by Slagman at 8:06 AM on January 23, 2005

So what you're saying is that people are all individuals and labels are bad, except for this huge group that you don't like and just labeled en masse?
posted by jonmc at 8:28 AM on January 23, 2005

Anyone have a copy of the article?
posted by VulcanMike at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2005

For a while I identified with a lot of the stuff associated with "genx' until I started to notice demographic-label-creep. It used to apply to people born from say, 1962-66 to 1972-76.

I always thought "Generation X" wasn't so much a generational label as it was a lifestyle or (anti-)career choice. For example, kids from bourgeois backgrounds who graduated college in the 80s and 90s and chose to get low-paying jobs working in record stores, cafes and bars rather than going the traditional route, e.g.: the management training program at GE or going to law school.

I don't really have a point other than to say it's silly to label an entire age group of people (the covers hugely differing demographics) "x" [npi] or "y". Group behavior still mostly breaks down according to socioeconomic lines, as has been pointed out several times above. College educated young people from bourgeois backgrounds are probably more likely to move around a bit and hold off on getting married until later, than people of the same age group from rural areas. Not exactly a breakthrough in social science, this.

Grossman, it seems, is guilty of the same pseudosociological bullshit that David Brooks foists on NY Times readers on a weekly basis.
posted by psmealey at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2005

I'm 22, I've got a full time job, and I'll be graduating college in the spring. I'm having way too much fun with my life to settle down and get married.

Too much to experience in life to be tied down like that.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:42 PM on January 23, 2005

VulcanMike - follow the link for the article, click on home and then go back to the previous issue and then you'll find that the story is the cover story there.
posted by sien at 2:34 PM on January 23, 2005

And what’s taking them so long to get where they’re going?

This made me giggle. Because, of course, everyone knows that the secret to happiness is to figure out what you want, get it as fast as you can and be done with it so you can die/be middle aged.

Perhaps we are incapable of being responsible. Perhaps this will change society for the better - we'll be too busy partying and having lots of boyfriends (or traveling, working low-paying but fulfilling jobs, having hobbies we care about, being good friends and citizens) to bother with dominating the world and exploiting others.

A physics professor of mine theorized that the reason that few scientists do groundbreaking work past age forty is that they all settle down with houses and kids and spend their energy cleaning gutters and fixing doorknobs.

I am trying to avoid becoming boring as I age.
posted by mai at 9:34 PM on January 23, 2005

Well here's one thing to consider among all the other points on the settling-down baby-making thing if delayed to 35: the separation of the generations. Denying your children the right to ever know their grandparents.

It's another one of these 'what if everybody did that' deals. Seems ok at first till everybody starts doing it.

Do the math. You have a child at 35. Your kid waits until 35. Guess what, you're 70 years old already and your grandkid was just born. This grandkid will just barely remember you if you live to 80. And they'll only every remember you as an elderly person. They'll never see you when you're still vital and fully engaged in life.

Now try it again at 22. You're 44 when grandkid is born. They're fully adult around the time you retire. You get to spend some of your actual life with them and vice versa.
posted by scheptech at 10:19 PM on January 23, 2005

Denying your children the right to ever know their grandparents.

You can't miss what you've never had. And that's not exactly a right.
posted by kindall at 12:07 AM on January 24, 2005

kindall, while I agree with you that knowing your grandparents is not a right, you're wrong about the other thing. You most certainly can miss something you've never had. Ask someone who's deaf in one ear, or legally blind, or born without a limb. All those people can cope and live full lives, but if they say they've never missed the absent bit, they're avoiding an unpleasant discussion.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:24 AM on January 24, 2005

My grandmother was 38 when she had my mother. My mother was 38 when she had my sister. Neither of them were hard-driving yuppie career women in the slightest (although they may have raised one in me.) That's just how it worked out. My grandmother died at the age of 94, when both my sister and I got to spend a lot of our actual lives with her. There are really no guarantees on these things. (And isn't there some evidence that women in particular who are able to conceive later are also aging slower and likely to live longer?)
posted by transona5 at 10:46 AM on January 24, 2005

The author of the Time Magazine article, Lev Grossman, is almost certainly a Baby Boomer. He writes from a Boomer mentality.

FWIW, I know Lev somewhat (he's a friend of a friend), and he's definitely not. He's in his mid 30s and recently had his first child (if the sheds any light on whatever bias he does or does not have).
posted by psmealey at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2005

while the other 90% of my friends toiled away hoping to someday make that $30k-100k downpayment.

It's casual comments like this that make me glad I don't live on the coasts. You don't have to be in the middle of nowhere to see a MAJOR decrese in housing costs from California/NYC prices. Look at the Detroit area (I'm thinking Western Wayne County, not Oakland County) some time. You could buy a small older home outright for 100k.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:14 PM on January 24, 2005

FWIW, I know Lev somewhat (he's a friend of a friend), and he's definitely not. He's in his mid 30s and recently had his first child (if the sheds any light on whatever bias he does or does not have).

I stand corrected. He only writes from a Boomer mentality, he isn't actually a boomer himself but a member of Gen X. I wonder how much influence other staff at Time had in the final copy of this article.

One of the biggest problems here is that the article begins with the assumption that "growing up" means "Career, family, kids" simply because that is how the previous generation defined themselves in the 80s. The fact that the avg. American father spends 30 - 45 min. with his children on a daily basis is never discussed (Harpers).

And as I've mentioned in previous postings, the economics are almost a sidebar in this article, and the piece is rounded out by the helpful tips for adults wishing to coax their children out of the "twixter" dependency cycle: for instance, asking kids at dinner what they want to be when they grow up (and "undecided" is not an acceptable answer).

Is there anything more ridiculous than to transform familial routines into classes in career counseling?
posted by schambers at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2005

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