Tag Archives: marriage and family

Millennials and Marriage

Who is a Millennial? Someone born in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The term was coined based on the idea that children born in 1982 would graduate from high school at the start of the next millennium.

The Pew Research Center reports that Millennials:

  • Are more likely to still live at home with their parents
  • They have now overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation
  • They tend to be less religious than previous generations
  • Currently they experience more financial burden
  • This slice of the population is more racially diverse
  • They are less trusting of others
  • Typically are more politically liberal
  • They are the first generation to be digital natives

Despite some of the research you have read and even some of the magazine covers (designed to sell issues), Millennials are probably not that much different from any other generation. What’s different is the world around them in which they have to build themselves and forge paths toward their future.

A recent article in Relevant Magazine pointed out some alarming numbers when it comes to Millennials and marriage. I guess these are only alarming if you believe in marriage and it’s benefits for individuals and for society as a whole.

  • Younger people aren’t getting married at the same rate as previous generations
  • Cohabitation before marriage is now the new normal
  • Online solutions for starting relationships are increasing

Seems to me that what Millennials might need is some information to help them make wise decisions about their lives. Why is marriage good for individuals? People who are married live longer, report higher levels of personal happiness and are generally healthier, both physically and mentally. Children thrive at a much higher rate in married homes than in single parent or cohabiting homes. Overall, marriage and family is good for everyone involved, including all the rest of us. The higher the rates of marriage in a society, the great the economic and civic benefits for everyone in town.

To be honest with you, people still make bad decisions even when faced with facts to the contrary. I do, don’t you? This leads me to believe that what young people really need is not the will to make wise choices, but the environment in which to experience more options that are smart and healthy.

Where in the world is a millennial supposed to find someone to go on a date with these days? Because of technology (which was supposed to liberate us) work has now crossed the 9-5 borders. There are fewer and fewer “safe” public social venues. So often, today’s crowd offers an abundance of moral confusion instead of a confirming environment in which to seek meaningful connections.

What about your local church? Why is that the last place most young singles consider when thinking about a place to meet a great person to date?

Why does the local church not organize itself in such a way to facilitate healthy and meaningful relationship building among young people? I’m not talking about offering boring classes! Hip social experiences, adventures, concerts and nights out should be the new norm for the local church.

Maybe Millennials are just like every other generation before them, they just some help.

What’s a Family These Days?

Shared on Flickr by Keith Kelly
Shared on Flickr by Keith Kelly

“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”   – Erma Bombeck

Our culture is in the process of enlarging the definition of family. There are a lot of reasons for this ranging from economic circumstances to personal choices. As early as 1995 marriage and family textbooks in college were using definitions like this for the family:

One or more adults related by blood, marriage, or affiliation who cooperate
economically who may share a common dwelling place and who may rear children.

(Strong, B. and C. DeVault. 1995. The marriage and family experience. Wadsworth)

Do you see how my students sitting in class read this and start to wonder if they and their roommates are now considered “family” according to this definition? This sort of definition is so wide that almost any arrangement fits and then, of course, it stops being useful. It is the business of society to define itself and its institutions. You and I are society. We create our culture. Marriage and family are the oldest social institutions that remain. We are now living in a period of time in which significant and rapid redefinition is being undertaken by our courts and law making bodies.

Here goes an attempt to provide information that will help you to understand what’s really going on in our society when we come home to our marriages and families.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

– Soren Kierkegaard