I was talking recently with some dear friends, and we were lamenting the late start of our children getting married, because we are all ready to embark on the grand-parenting leg of our lives. I started doing the math, and that’s when it started to become clear. If our children put off marriage until their early 30’s or even until 40, most of the boomer generation will be in their 60’s before grandchildren arrive. And if that generation waits until their 30’s to marry, then great grandparents like us will be in their 90’s or more! Unfortunately most of us will be pushing daisies by then, not baby strollers.
Then again, things like the age of marriage tend to go in cycles, dependent on a whole host of factors, including economics, wars, and cultural changes. My parent’s generation married on average at about 20 years of age, as the GI’s came home from WWII and created the baby boom generation. But their parents on the whole had waited longer to tie the knot because of the great depression and a lack of money. So what will the future hold for our grandchildren?
It seems like women are the ones most driving the current delay of marriage, as they have been told/conditioned to “lean in” and be whatever they want to be. Many women in their 20’s have expressed confusion about their role in today’s culture, feeling pulled by career choices and wanting to create a life-long relationship and family. They have had their noses to the grindstone since starting grade school, and tell me that they don’t have time for boys and relationships; too much of a bother and distraction. They also haven’t learned how to quiet themselves and go inward to know what they want. It’s hard to know what is right for you when you haven’t taken the time to work on self-awareness, self-discovery, know what you are feeling, and how to touch into your intuition, your gut sense, that inner voice. I work with girls in my retreats and summer camps to develop these skills, because without them, they are at the mercy of the noise and mixed messages in the culture blasting at them from all sides.
I’m not even a grandparent yet, although my married daughter would tell you that my hints are getting stronger each week. No one can predict the future, but after reading a ton of history books over the years, I’m confident things will work out just fine for this new generation, with or without great-grandparents. Because it always has.