I often cite the many issues that the Millennial generation faces on this blog, but I try not to be critical just for the sake of being critical. This blog post on the Millennial marriage problem is no different in this regard.
The graphic that opens this post is from the Pew Research Center, published to their webpage on 13 February 2019, showing that the Millennial generation (persons born from 1981 to 1996) are less likely to be married than previous generations at comparable points in time.
I can give you the nice, sanitized reasons often cited as the impetus for this trend, typically found in periodicals like Time Magazine or even on Pew Research’s site, but I don’t think those reasons get to the heart of the real problem.
The problems Millennials are facing in finding dating and marriage prospects run much deeper than the modern economy, cosmopolitan trends, or the quirky personal preferences of this particular generation of Americans.
For starters, according to Pew Research, Millennials are much better educated than their grandparents, as four-in-ten Millennials, or 39% of Millennials, have a bachelors degree or higher compared to 15% of the Silent generation (persons born from 1928 to 1945), about 25% of Baby Boomers (persons born from 1946 to 1964), and 29% of Generation X (persons born from 1965 to 1980) (Pew Research, 2019)
(Source of education and generation data above:https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/essay/millennial-life-how-young-adulthood-today-compares-with-prior-generations/)
Education is a very clear indicator of income level, despite what older and/or more conservative individuals might say about the types of college degrees Millennials are earning, the better educated you are, the more money you are likely earning. The statistics on the employment prospects of those with a college education bear out the fact that you are far better off having a degree (in anything) than you are without one.
I believe the marriage trend we are witnessing amongst Millennials is a direct result of this generation being largely raised in single parent homes.
According to the statistics below, the trend of single parent households started in 1970 and steadily increased over the last 50 years, with the vast majority of single parent households headed by a single mother.
As the graph above shows, the number of single parent households exponentially increased during the years that encompass the entirety of the Millennial generation birth years (1981 to 1996), again, with the vast majority of those households headed by a single mother.
How is this 50+ year trend of single parent household growth impacting dating and marriage trends amongst Millennials?
It is driving another trend that no research institute or university (to my knowledge) is tracking…
The feminization of men and the masculinization of women.
To keep things raw, but real here, while most single mothers should be applauded for raising their children the best they can under often difficult circumstances, the statistics on the deleterious effects visited upon those raised in single family households is staggering, from incarcerations rates, to high school dropout rates, to teen pregnancy rates. Generation Z is likely to make the single parent household trend reach new highs.
Children optimally require both a paternal and maternal influence to grow into mentally stable, well-rounded, and productive adults. A woman cannot teach her young son how to be a man anymore than a man can teach his young daughter how to be a woman. Most things are learned by example.
Unfortunately, in many of these single parent homes, the non-custodial parent often plays a minimal or non-existent role in raising their offspring. This often leads to the children of single parent homes lacking a consistent masculine and/or feminine example to learn from. The overwhelming empirical result of this dynamic amongst Millennials (and manifesting itself to a greater degree with Generation Z, or persons born from 1997 to 2012) is that young men are acting more effeminate and young women are acting more masculine. I posit that the single parent trend invariably leads to the statistics we see today.
Millennial women consistently report a shortage of what they consider “eligible men” to date and marry. Conversely, Millennial men are failing to fulfill what I often affectionately call “the burden of performance”.
Many young men fail to understand what women value in men because they never saw it consistently demonstrated by their fathers’ interactions with their mothers. Conversely, many women have a very skewed view of what a “real man” or an “eligible man” is for much the same reason, they never saw it demonstrated to them by their mothers’ interactions with their fathers.
Our media machine doesn’t make things any better for the younger generations (Millennials and GenZ) by the way they portray men as weak, bumbling, and inept compared to their strong, independent, and intelligent female mates/counterparts in movies and television shows.
The burden of performance that men are obliged to bear is to be a producer, a protector, and a provider (the three P’s). Men are supposed to be the provisioners and protectors that women as a collective desire. Women value the production, admiration, and social status of quality men. Unfortunately, Millennial men (and in fairness, a good number of older men as well in this country) are suffering from a collective lack of ambition.
Millennial men do not seem to realize that women do not supplicate to men. They supplicate to a man’s accomplishments. Conversely, Millennial women in particular, are also the cause of their own problems in finding, dating, and marrying suitable men because far too many of them don’t give a high-quality man a reason bear the burden of performance for their benefit.
More to follow…
-The Rational Ram