with Avi Spivack
Hi, I'm Avi, and I try to put the work and the dad together, with mild success. This is all about trying to give you a view from what it looks like on the dad-man's side of the world, and I hope you find my ruminations humorous because I try not to take myself too seriously.
NPR ran a piece last week about young men who refuse to grow up. My first thought was, that’s ME! Well, not really. But my second thought was, that’s the movie “Swingers.” (Which I loved, of course; and if you’re a guy and you didn’t like the movie, then you’re lying.)
I wrote previously about how it’s weird to be a relatively young father these days. My best friend is a perpetual bachelor and entertains me with his stories of gallivanting through Europe with a new woman in each country. And while I might have a tinge of envy for his life of liberty, he, too, has an immense desire to “settle down” and actually envies the fact that I have found the love of my life and we have a wonderful daughter and a little house in the ‘burbs…so when do we draw the line?
My brother is in his mid-twenties and was living in our parents’ house until this past year - at the same age that I got married. He will likely get his own apartment by the same age I was when we had our daughter. So there is quite a divide there, and I think it also perfectly embodies the shifting cultural landscape where it’s fine for a late-twenty and even thirty-something guy to be single, still living off of (or with) mom and dad, and immersed in serious hobbies like the Sony PSP or fantasy football.
The interesting thing to me is how this shift came about, or why. Is it due to a gradual rejection of the 1950s “values” - where people got married out of college, man started a career, and woman tended the home? Obviously, that model of the American home has disappeared, largely, but beyond the waiting to get married and have kids, isn’t it time these “kids” stopped acting like kids and grew up already? I mean, video games, as a thirty-something? C’mon. It was funny in “Swingers” but at some point you have to graduate beyond it and move on to books - you know, those things with pages.
Of course, the parents perpetuate the ability of their children to continue to act this way and rely on them; especially if they are well-off (or even not) and have allowed, or even encouraged, their children to wander into the world and work for a non-profit pulling in a salary that can’t pay the rent. If you keep your kid’s room ready for him or her to come home, then they might actually end of taking you up on that offer. Now I’m not saying you need to kick your kids out, but at the very least instill them with a sense of individual responsibility so they can grow into their independence quickly and find their “adult” selves.
And yet, I pontificate here with my three-year-old asleep next door, and I have no idea how I will feel as a parent when she’s a teenager and older and these issues are actually more real to me. But what I do know is that I am glad to have been one of the first of my friends to marry and have kids - if anything, it forced me to grow up faster, which I think I needed as an adult. My wife would likely disagree with the definition of me as an adult, but at least I don’t play video games (well, not in the house anyway).
So where do you fall on this issue - is the next generation lagging in maturity and their lack of desire to emerge into adulthood? Does it matter?
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