Who suffers the most from the trend of extended adolescence?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

My friend Tracy sent me this interesting post. As I read it, I thought I was going to disagree with him about who is to blame for the mess he describes, but as we’ll see in a bit, I don’t.

Here’s his intro, which pretty much everyone agrees on:

The Five Traditional Milestones of Adulthood

Something magically happens between adolescence and young adulthood.  There are five traditional milestones of that mark entrance into adulthood that sociologists, psychologists, and the general population have used as a proxy to determine when someone has reached that tipping point of maturity.  It is at this time adolescence is shed and emotional maturity comes to full fruition.

These are:

  • Leaving Home
  • Becoming Financially Independent
  • Completing School
  • Marrying
  • Starting a Family

I hate not being married and not having any children, but I can’t marry a feminist and that’s all the church seems to be producing these days. The other ones I had finished by age 23 (debt-free).

He has some examples to illustrate who is and isn’t mature:

Examples of Adults:

  • A 25-year old teacher with a college degree, who works full time, is married, has a child, owns her own home, and pays for her own living expenses
  • A 65-year old janitor with a high school diploma, who works full time, is married or widowed, has children, owns his own home, and pays for his own living expenses

Examples of Extended Adolescence: 

  • A 30-year old who has part of their rent and bills covered by parents, endlessly enrolls in colleges or universities seeking additional degrees or credentials, single, without children.
  • A 45-year old high-school dropout living on social welfare programs who spends his days getting drunk in bars

OK, then he talks about who suffers the most from this, and it’s women:

What is particularly interesting is the interaction between biology and the paradigm shift that has occurred with so much of the younger generation suffering from extended adolescence. Women have a specific, limited window of time in which they can genetically reproduce and to which they are attractive to potential mates.  This so-called “biological clock”, written into the code at the very deepest core of our DNA, puts a limit on childbearing for females.

  • Fertility: Female fertility peaks at 20 to 30 years old.  After 30 years old, fertility drops by 20%.  After 35, it drops 50%.  After 40, it drops 95%.  As for in vitro fertilization, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that women in their early 40’s have, on average, only a 3% to 5% chance of having a baby through this method.
  • Down Syndrome: At 25, a woman has about 1 chance in 1,250 of having a baby with Down Syndrome; at age 30, a 1-in-1,000 chance; at age 35, a 1-in-400 chance; at age 40, a 1-in-100 chance; and at 45, a 1-in-30- chance.
  • Miscarriage: Only 9 percent of recognized pregnancies for women aged 20 to 24 end in miscarriage; 15 percent of women aged 25-30 miscarry; 40 percent of women over 40 do and more than 50 percent miscarry at 42 years of age.

These limitations do not apply to men (an 80 year old man can still reproduce).  Men have virtually no opportunity cost to waiting to find a mate.  If they want to spend their twenties working their way up their field, putting money in the bank, playing video games, and hanging out with friends, they can always wake up one morning and decide they are ready to settle down, get married, and have kids.  As such, the biological cost of extended adolescence is significantly and substantially higher for women than it is for men.  Females suffer from a Mother Nature-induced “use it or lose it” policy.

I don’t think that a Down syndrome child is insurmountable, but it’s more challenging.

So, should men be expected to ride to the rescue at the last minute, to make things “work out” for women who refused to marry when they were in their 20s, when they were fertile and attractive?


This fear was encapsulated by Kay Hymowitz in a book called Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.

[…]As one reviewer somewhat critically noted of the book, “Hymowitz wants the child-men [those suffering from extended adolescence] to man up so that women don’t have to become spinsters or “choice mothers” at the expense of their careers. Might women alter their own behavior? “[T]he economic and cultural changes are too embedded, and, for women especially, too beneficial to reverse.” So the answer is no. Although it is women who are becoming disenchanted with the way things are, and although it is women who have created this situation, it is [in her opinion] men who ought to change.  And they are to change precisely when women are ready.”

The reviewer is correct because men are acting rationally within the confines the new paradigm.  In today’s world, men are presented no social, financial, emotional, or reproductive advantage by adjusting their own life to the ticking of a potential mate’s biological clock.  It is for the woman, to borrow a phrase, “too damn bad”.  It may not be fair, but in a finite world, there is an opportunity cost to every decision we make.  That has always been one of the central themes of this blog.  Incentive systems drive nearly everything in civilization from the type of people we attract into certain industries to the kind of behavior we reward.  The incentive system for men has changed and society now reflects this reality.

I actually blame the pastors and parents for this. Pastors and parents don’t challenge women’s feelings with the truth about what she ought to be doing in order to grow up and be well-positioned in the future. They want to let women decide what to do at every point in their lives, based on their feelings in the moment. The refusal to make judgments leads to women having delusions like “I can have children when I’m 35” and “I can change a bad man into a good man after I marry him” and “a degree in English is as worthwhile as a degree in computer science”.

Feminism has a lot to do with it. Women used to be taught by pastors and parents that they should choose chaste men with good jobs, work histories and savings. But feminism says that men don’t have any special provider role, and now the main things that women look for in a man is that he is attractive, fun, and lets her do whatever she feels like doing – no matter how crazy and irrational it is.

One woman recently told me that a friend of ours who is dating a penniless 28-year-old student who has never worked a day in his life need not worry, because “if they marry, he’ll drop out of school and start to work and provide for her”. She is 33, and she thinks that marrying a full-time student is a good idea, because he enthusiastically supports her crazy plans to pursue fun, thrills and travel into her mid-30s. She tells him that God is telling her (through her feelings) to pursue fun and thrills through travel – a position she held when she still an atheist in college, mind you. And he, in response, is both unwilling to, and incapable of, questioning her plan from a practical point of view. She likes that he lets her fly the plane, even it it means she’ll crash it and kill them both.

Pastors and parents don’t dare hurt the self-esteem of sensitive little girls by telling them to study hard things, get full-time jobs, move out of the house and focus on marrying a man who can provide during their 20s. And what happens when the “fun-thrills-travel until you’re 35” plan explodes and no one wants to marry her except losers? Well, then, all pastors and parents blame men for not wanting to marry her. But men don’t marry 35-year-old women when the value proposition of marriage has been greatly diminished by age and infertility. (Or worse: by promiscuity, cohabitation, divorce, and children from other men)

Women who think that they can play the fool through their 20s and early 30s, calling their feelings the voice of God, and being affirmed by parents and pastors in their crazy views, are in for a surprise. Men have needs and feelings too. Men respond to incentives. Marriage-minded women need to actively repudiate feminism, or they must live with the consequences of their failure to engage.

5 thoughts on “Who suffers the most from the trend of extended adolescence?”

  1. One of the big problems we’re facing. No wonder we feel the need for women to work when an entire decade bracket of male workers has been removed from the economic system.

      1. Unfortunately feminism builds future economic collapse into the system. The West is embarking on an experiment in intentionally reshaping human sexuality to fit an unrealistic academic theory that is every bit as foolish as the Eastern bloc’s failed attempt to make the economy fit an unrealistic theory. Expect a similar level of success.

  2. Being single is immature? I’m celibate, a choice I made as a monastic oblate. I seriously hope all monks are celibate!

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