As I sit here in my new snoopy PJ bottoms given to me by good friends at Christmas, I’m not quite sure what to make of the fact that so many young people in their 20’s and 30’s aren’t married yet. I’ve read research showing that people who wait to get married end up with happier and more successful marriages than people who marry “early”, ie in their early 20’s. But there is not much data yet or for long enough time to know if that will hold up.
I’ve seen a handful of college students for counseling recently who are in funks because of breakups. Some have been depressed, some angry, some apathetic, and most of them have felt really lost. And they have all been engulfed in drama around their breakups that sounds an awful lot like middle school drama. Gossiping, talking about people behind their backs, alliances formed, mean-spirited comments mostly online or through texts. And none of them has the skills or experience to know how to cope with breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
At the risk of sounding judgmental, what I wanted to say to these young adults was….”GROW UP!!!!” “YOU ARE NOT IN 6TH GRADE ANYMORE!!!!” Of course, as a counselor, I couldn’t be so blunt. And in many ways, it’s not their faults. They have not learned good coping skills at home or at school, and they have not seen healthy relationships modeled at home or in the culture.
By 21 years of age, at least 40% of kids have experienced a divorce, and more and more kids now grow up in homes where their parents never married and become separated during childhood. Perhaps young people’s delaying or avoiding marriage is at least in some part, and I think probably in large part, a reult of them being scared to death of repeating their parents mistakes. Teens tell me this all the time in my retreats.
I will talk in future blogs about the role of ambitious girls who are rising to the top of colleges and career ladders, as well as the cultural phenomenon of hooking up, early sexualization, overindulged kids, and the diminishing social skills of young people due to technological overload. But for now, remind ourselves that even when children have “handled” their parents divorces, there are some scars that go with them that may affect their future relationships.