16 Jun “Good Men — Going, Going, Gone?”
With Father’s Day approaching in the U.S., we gratefully acknowledge the critical contribution of good fathers. We also acknowledge the many ways marriage and family is beneficial to men. Today’s thought-provoking alert by Dawn Frandsen reveals how the disintegration of marriage and family structure is actually hurting young men, who sometimes flounder on the road to adulthood.
Dawn points out, “regardless of how the media packages the new normal, the need for real marriage and family structure isn’t going to go away. And men who are principled, noble, brave and virtuous are critical to maintaining that structure.”
Happy Father’s Day — and thank you, fathers, for making your home and the world a better place.
United Families International, President
Good Men – Going, Going, Gone?
By Dawn Frandsen
This week we are all waiting for the Supreme Court to let us know how marriage and family structure “should” be defined. Even the conversation about redefining marriage is unquestionably a broadside hit to the structure and inherent strength of the family. But an equally damaging threat to marriage and family has been going on for just as long, if not longer than the gay marriage concern and its propagation has been beguilingly covert.
The stealth operation I am referring to is the media campaign implying that “men are morons and we really can’t expect much from them.”
Think about it… it is becoming increasingly rare to find a media portrayal of a man who is genuinely and consistently depicted as principled, noble, brave and virtuous. The media has effectually annihilated examples of such men, replacing them with women who champion the world. We now pay to watch programs and movies that mock the natural character traits of men, make marriages into war zones and consistently portray men as either bullies, abusers and predators that women must fear; or as bumbling, inept dimwits that women must save.
In the past, society viewed creating a good family not only as a primary goal, but an undeniable measure of success. Large families, even if the argument was that it was necessary for survival’s sake or came by default because of a lack of birth control, were imperative, valued and a badge of honor. But as the sophisticated arguments of the women’s liberation movement gained an increasingly solid footing through legislation, the courts and public opinion, key societal opinions were manipulated and changed. One of those changes was distorting the definition of what men are expected to be and do.
Deconstruction of the male role
There are several ways that the media’s agenda-setting itinerary has been abundantly successful in forcing us to reconsider the role and purpose of men in the world.
One example is how we have been required to reevaluate just how long it should take for young adults, especially males, to adopt the grown-up role. Dubbed the Boomerang Generation by the media, young adults in their late twenties and early thirties have been essentially exonerated from any social stigma attached to returning to live with their parents. The number of children this age living in their parent’s home is at its highest rate since the post-WWII era. And the rate is accelerating. In 1981, Canadian census showed that 26.9 percent of 20-29 year-olds lived with their parents. The 2011 census numbers showed that nearly half of all adult offspring in Canada lived in their parent’s home.
In past generations, when achieving adulthood and manhood was solidly equated with marriage and parenthood, there were really no conventional exceptions to that scenario. In order to deconstruct the equation that was so firmly entrenched in our traditions, the definition of not only marriage and parenthood, but also manhood itself had to be successfully downgraded to a point that all three institutions would be commonly viewed as optional, silly or even a nuisance.
This new drawn-out process involved in becoming an adult has become such a publicly prevalent issue that Princeton University’s, The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and The Brookings Institute have created a think tank called The Future of Children that studies the phenomena and publishes research with titles like: “What’s Going on with Young People Today? The Long and Twisting Path to Adulthood” and “On a New Schedule: Transitions to Adulthood and Family Change.” The stated mission for the institution is to conduct and publish research generating information that “is useful to policymakers, practitioners, grant-makers, advocates [and] the media.”
Past generations have recognized the third decade of life as a very defining time. Sustained success later in life was nearly always contingent upon claiming your twenties. Healthcare and technology have made life spans longer, so maybe that is part of the slowed urgency to become independent. And of course it is easy to rationalize that these young men have no choice but to return home considering the state of the economy; the job market; the increasing cost of an education…the list goes on. But a far greater factor is simply the fact that young adults, especially men, are now culturally allowed to use this decade of their life to “find their place in the world.”
In the not too distant past, the overarching definition of the “growing-up” tradition was centered on getting married and having children. A life that included marriage and children was viewed as a destination point, not just a possible alternative route. But that definition of achievement has been shifted so that the marker of accomplishment is to be a successful individual, rather than being part of a successful family.
The last few decades have produced a widening array of socially permissible choices available to young adults. The option of living together as a test run for marriage, seemingly perpetual schooling and the refusal to be “under-employed” have only become socially acceptable in recent memory. Instead of just a starter home or starter careers, there are now starter marriages.
The legal and medical endorsement of delayed adulthood
Under new directives, child psychologists in the United Kingdom now treat patients through age 25 as a period of “late adolescence.” The intent is that the definition change will “stop children being ‘rushed’ through their childhood and feeling pressured to achieve key milestones quickly,” and “prevent young people from getting an inferiority complex.” In the United States, parents are required to carry dependent health insurance coverage for their children through age 26. So even though the “child” is deemed old enough to smoke at 18, drink alcohol at 21 and in most states reaches the legal age of consent at 16, their parent must still pay for any health problems incurred by such possible life altering decisions for nearly a decade beyond the time that the child is believed mature enough to make such choices.
The normalization and legal sanctioning of passive dependency and endorsed immaturity, gives young men a free pass to abdicate the difficult aspirations and responsibilities of adult independence and agency along with the rewards and sense of accomplishment that go with those difficult choices.
Socially endorsing this shift away from the traditional family roles and the increased number of socially acceptable options has left women exhausting themselves and becoming angry in the process, thinking they must have and be all.
But at the same time, men feel free to abdicate their traditional responsibilities, because they have been told for so long and in so many ways and settings throughout their life, that what they are and have to offer is no longer exclusively needed—because the same social authorization asserts that women actually can “do it all” and without any male help.
Life choices produce starkly different results
In spite of what we see in the movies, research has clearly verified that actual life choices produce starkly different results from what the media’s spin presents as normal and desirable. A recent study done in Finland identified “six different pathways to adulthood.” The groups identified as “traditionalists,” those who went from adolescence to adulthood in an expected order and “fast starters,” those who transitioned quickly into the “key life domains of studies, work, marriage and parenthood, experienced higher life satisfaction than those with off-time [defined as those who were ‘floundering’ in their careers and relationships] and [those who indefinitely] postponed major role transitions.” Similarly, “those with prolonged university studies and who were single experienced lower life satisfaction later in their lives, whereas those who combined career and family experienced higher life satisfaction.”
In other words, the best way to live a fulfilling life is the old fashioned way—get a job, get married and have a family.
The landscape for marriage and family may no longer clearly be defined. But regardless of how the media packages the new normal, the need for real marriage and family structure isn’t going to go away. And men who are principled, noble, brave and virtuous are critical to maintaining that structure.
It has been clearly shown how a strategic media agenda subtly lures us into changing our acceptance level of alternative, non-traditional lifestyles including same-sex marriage, single parenting or transgender recognition and approval. The process of eliminating good, reliable and principled men from our “perceived reality” is being done with the same shrewd stratagem.
Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by these subtle forces. Men are important! Fathers are important! Please encourage the young men in your life to courageously move forward with their education, career goals, and yes, marriage and family. Following this time honored life-script will not only benefit their future family, but their own life as well.