It's my children that I worry about.
They're boy/girl twins, now 25. My daughter is in the process of breaking up with the boyfriend she's lived with for the past two years, and moving back home to re-settle her life. She has a career, and wants to get married and start a family sometime soon. Her boyfriend is a great person to be around and she adores him, but... he doesn't want kids (and is actually freaked out by them). He doesn't want marriage. And he can't keep himself organized enough to uphold his financial/personal responsibilities in cohabitation. So where is she going to find a potential partner who shares her social values, and wants a life partnership and a co-parent, who can uphold their responsibilities? She doesn't even know where to look.
Her brother lives at home, and probably always will. He doesn't have a real career and can't adult well enough to live on his own, even if he had to. He has never been on a date, even, and lives for video games. What happens if he looks around one day and suddenly feels lonely for a family other than his aging parents? With no financial substance or adulting skills and no romantic experience, he's not much of a catch for partners his age. He'll have to take more family/household responsibility as he gets older, and that's fine, but what happens when his parents finally pass away and he's an old man?
As a parent, these situations worry me greatly.
So, we're a couple that doesn't want to / plan to have children and we've discussed the "getting old" thing before. What I regret about our American society is that it's no longer common to live together as an extended family. Why couldn't he live with his sister (or near her), after you're gone? What about other relatives?
I think it's possible that, in the future, we'll see more communal living situations because I have a feeling there's a lot of GenX and younger people who aren't going to end up having children. Communities can be remade if people make the effort to come back together and live around one another again. I'm thinking of communities like the elderly have in Florida, but maybe people will start living together at a younger age? Just some thoughts I've had.
I've seen the pain and the struggle around this (personally) and I'm hoping it's something that people start taking seriously soon.
In the meantime, part of my son's responsibility as we get older is taking care of his aging parents. Last summer, my wife had a serious knee injury that had her bedridden for a while and limited mobility for longer, and he had to step up then. We warned him that this was the first of many, and they'll get worse.
I understand disabilities and disorders can hold adult children back, if that isn't the case I'm curious where things went off the rails, as a soon to be first time dad myself. This stuff worries me, that regardless of all the investment and good parenting in the world, that my kid(s) can fail to thrive.
And if there's one piece of parenting advice I can offer, it's this... your kids are their own people. Parents only have just so much control. (The flip side is also true; at a certain point, you can't just blame your parents for your own life.)
My kids are still pretty young (<10) but this is something that I increasingly understand/believe the older they get. One of the most surprising things for me as a dad was seeing how different my kids are from each other, even when being raised in exactly the same environment. This has really reinforced to me the idea that people are really their own people, and there is only so much a parent can do to influence what they'll become later. (And yes, this has also given me reason to reflect on the idea that I can't hold my parents responsible for my life choices - definitely cuts both ways!)
As a parent, you can provide an example of behaviour and whilst the child is young provide restrictions and discipline as necessary, but beyond a point, your work is done and it's up to them.
He has to go for lots of reasons. One is that I'll have 11 other kids to devote my resources to. Another is that a bit more of a push might get him to fly. Another is that I've seen my two youngest brothers still living with my parents, and it horrifies me. While one of my brothers has an excuse (needs watching for schizophrenia medication), the younger of the two has no excuse: over 30, has an MS in computer science, badly addicted to video games.
The video games really do provide an escape from activities that would require learning social skills. If your social skills are bad, you might want that escape, but that isn't making the situation any better.
I have a BS degree in computer science from UMass Lowell. I started the family, married, moved into a place of my own, and started an OS kernel developer job just a bit before finishing the degree. At that time, back in 1999, my starting pay of $48,000 ($73,628 in 2019 dollars) was more than my wife's parents made together. You can wait forever trying to get your life into a perfect state for starting a family, or you can just get on with it. Once we had two kids, my wife gave up on that same degree with 75% done.
I currently work for a government contractor, doing low-level software: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20088647
I mostly stick to living in small affordable cities like Melbourne, FL. The area I'm in now is just large enough to have commercial jet flights, 4 each way with Delta and 3 each way with American. Houses have a median price of about $150,000 here. I paid about double that to have a big house (3500 sq ft, 0.39 acre) less than a mile from the beach. I paid it off in 8 years.
Unless you count opportunity cost, there are no child care expenses. My wife does that. The kids are homeschooled, with dual-enrollment providing free AA degrees that have fully transferable credit to state universities. There is a scholarship that should cover the rest, except that we botched the application for the first two kids.
Food is the big expense. We seem to spend over $40,000 per year on it. About half the time we hit the out-of-pocket maximum for health insurance, which is something around $11,000 if I remember right. (skull fracture, major rib cage surgery, more rib cage surgery) After that I don't know, but it might be electricity or home insurance.
My state has no income tax. I don't really pay the federal one, due to the kids.
Maybe the important point is that I just went for it. Sensible career and expense choices help, but the main thing seems to be this: You can wait forever trying to get your life into a perfect state for starting a family, or you can just get on with it.
Lots of little reasons add up. There was never a definite decision. I guess I got fond of having so many kids, and I got used to the chaos. I saw my wife's uncle fall apart after his only daughter died, so redundancy seems wise. My wife is hard-core Catholic. Making kids is fun. Maybe some will visit when I am old.
What a ringing endorsement of your wife :)
(probably not what you meant though)
My fiancée on the other hand still has time to figure out she can do way better than me.
I've now been married for over a decade and we have more than two kids, - together ;-)
edit: I haven't spoken to my father in over 20 years, and I probably never will again. What finally turned me to this point was having children of my own. I saw what he really was then, and I was determined that he would never have a part in their lives. They're adults now and are free to contact him if they won't, but they know what I've told them about him, and they choose to keep the separation.
This particular comment, though? Nah, suggesting "beat some sense into him" was out of line by community standards and common decency. And as someone who grew up bruised, it was a little triggery for me too.
Just goes to show interpreting comments on the 'net without any context is easier said than done. I always try to keep positive assumptions in mind before I hit reply.
My wife isn't worried, she believes things will work themselves out somehow.
I don't think people who don't have kids can understand how concerning shift in values and attitudes is and can be for parents.
Case in point - his twin sister moved out as soon as she got herself a steady income to live on. But she also chooses to stay in town, and spend time with us multiple times a week. Why is that? Why did she come out differently?
Capitalists force a narrative that everyone is inherently "lazy" and will be good for nothing if not for the jobs/existential crises they so conveniently provided by the capitalists.
I relate heavily to your description of your daughter (and am also the same age!). I have a great career by most standards and am independent but also prefer to be home and near my parents/extended family whenever I can. Why? Mostly because I enjoy their company, but even just being in the same house feels nice.
In contrast the girls I have dated do not understand how I prioritize/spend so much time with my family instead of anyone/everything else. :shrug:
Anyway, I have nothing to really add here. I just wanted to say... I'm on the cusp of becoming a father, we're expecting our twins this weekend. You've given me a lot to think about with your story in these comments. Thanks for that.
That said, I love spending time with my parents, but I know it’s not a one-relationship-model fits all for getting the most out of life.
This describes me exactly.
My parents are just hideously broken people that passed their hang-ups and neuroses onto me in such a way that I was just a shell of a person until my early 20's when I realised what was wrong with me and made effo
A family member of mine smoked pot and lived in a van a skiied the backtrails for 10 years (!!!) and then poof got his CA way late in life and is not 'caught up' in his career.
Another peer worked in marketing, hated it, went to work stoned. Then one day 'poof' he got serious, was a manager (it was a rapidly growing company), Director then VP within a few years.
Sometimes I think 'guys need a reason', and for many it just comes along.
If your kids are safe, healthy, decent people and not in existential trouble with the law etc., consider yourself fortunate in a way, it could be much worse.
'20's are the new teens' anyhow. 25 is still very young.
Maybe someday he'll decide to aim it somewhere else.
One thing having twins did for me was push me way over to the nature side of nature vs nurture. They're so different, and always have been. And I don't expect to have more control over their lives than my parents had over mine at that age.
Are you sure he's not just under-socialized and addicted to porn and video games? How does he spend his days? He might simply be a western hikikomori.
He can talk to people who share his interests at the moment, or in highly structured interactions (he works retail and is pretty good at it), but in free-form "polite conversation", he's basically paralyzed. I seriously worry about if he ever has to engage with the police, because I don't think he could obey their shouted orders.
Maybe he would enjoy games like factorio or Shenzhen I/O, those games are pretty fun and are good introductions to learning skills very similar to programming
Conversations like that and the emotional connection I have with their little ones made me realize it might be worth it.
At 27 I feel even more strongly. I'm still not ready to have kids but I feel a draw to it now.
Optimizing for the goal of a family, you'd look for suburban people who will be reaching your jurisdiction's marriage age within a year. Secondary to that you might look for ones who are smart, but they'd have to prioritize family.
I'm not sure what you mean by "higher risk". The risk of a woman being unable to conceive increases each year after ~27-30, depending on the study.
I'll be having my 12th kid soon. That simply doesn't happen if you wait. At the start, I had no idea that I'd want so many kids. To allow for this possibility, you must start early. Ideally you'd start before age 20.
In college? Or high school?
I think it is important to have some means of supporting a family, but that might not involve the educational path that has become our standard for the past 30 years. It only takes one good income, and paid child care is usually a terrible deal for big families, so there isn't a financial justification for paying for two expensive educations. If the degree costs time or money and wouldn't get used, why bother? Avoiding unneeded student loans is a sensible idea. The earlier you start, the larger your family can be.
The lines between college and high school are starting to blur. Dual enrollment (or equivalent) is offered in most states. This lets students take college classes early, getting credit for both high school and college. Here it can start in 6th grade. You can get a BS degree before completing high school.
The reasons to wait are legal (typically must be 16 to marry), medical (roughly similar), and the ability to find a suitable spouse. That last one is usually easier in college. It can be a challenge to get everything in order at a young age, but the payoff is huge.
More like 20. Women are safely birthing children well into their 40's nowadays. The old "safe" age limits (generally up to 40) are no longer considered to be relevant.
>She has a career, and wants to get married and start a family sometime soon. Her boyfriend is a great person to be around and she adores him, but... he doesn't want kids (and is actually freaked out by them).
There might be, there might not be. There will likely not be many years left where the woman is most easily able to conceive a child.
B) You can't tell when you're 25 whether you're going to be in that lucky group. If having children is very important to you, those odds are not great.
C) Many people want multiple children. They can't afford to wait until it's taking 5 years to conceive each child.
The point, though, is that if a woman is still just looking for a husband at 25, when she is already nearing the end of her peak fertile years, she will likely be at the end of her peak fertile years when she gets married, so it's all downhill from the get-go.
really it depends on the person's fitness & genetics. its just a number. I know people who are 23-27ish, they either look like 17 year olds or 39 year olds.
Your OP is saying, it’s easy for women to get 100 dates but out of 100 dates only 1 will be a sensible life partner.
It may be harder for a man to get 10 dates than for a woman to get 100 but in those 10, half of them will be a sensible life partner.
It’s a little like an advertising funnel: women have a source for getting lots of clicks, but few will be well qualified for a sale.
Men have a harder time getting clicks, but generally when they do they are generally well qualified.
You’re just thinking about the clicks as if that’s the only equation that matters but it’s a multiplication of two conversion rates, not one.
Plus with the advent of online profiles, I don't have to go on 100 dates to figure out 50-90 of them won't work out. so if 1 out of every 10 dates I go on is a winner, and it takes me a week to set up those 10 dates, then it is still better than for a guy to spend a month setting up 10 dates, of which due to small sample size, there's a lower chance of the let's say 2-3 sensible life partners appearing.
Edit: found it https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/03/29/share-ame...
Imagine a heterosexual relationship dating pool of 100 men and 100 women. 40 of the men are date-spammers, and 5 of the women are date-spammers. They will all attempt a first date with anyone with a pulse.
So each woman in the pool can easily get 40 dates, and each man in the pool can easily get 5 dates. These dates will likely not turn into long-term relationships, as the indiscriminate selection protocol does not correlate highly with sufficient investment into any particular relationship.
In short order, each non-spammer semi-pool will adapt compensation and filtering strategies to avoid the date-spammers. As the women have a lower signal-to-noise ratio (1.5) than the men (19), their filter will be more brutal, and block more false positives. The hookup bros make it harder for the normal men to find dates, as they increase the strength of women's filters, and then they profit more strongly from mimicry of non-spammers in order to defeat the filters.
With this hypothetical dating pool, the normal guys could cartelize, and join a dating site where men are only allowed a first date after a timeout interval of N days. New accounts have to wait N days before setting up a first date or accepting a date. While dating is in progress, the timeout clock stops at N days, communication with everyone else is suspended, and either person has to click on a "relationship ended" button--which notifies the other person--to start them up again. The ToS can penalize users with multiple accounts. It's rate-limiting dates, to stop the spammers.
So yes, that group is female biased. That was the whole point of his comment.
The kinds of things men are typically looking for are also in short supply in the median woman who will go on a date with them, but that’s a separate point.
(I feel like a lot of people in this thread read some implied moralizing here, like single men are bad for not being family ready, that it’s some sort of female supremacy argument, but no one said that. It just is what it is.)
That's probably the point of disagreement, I don't see any reason to think this is true.
Secondly, if I told you that there was a > 20% chance you were going to get run over by a car, would you cross the road? Even the best partnerships (statistically) have a 20% chance of divorce. "Hey 'incompetent' life partner, do you want to take a 20-50% chance of losing 60-80% of the assets that you build up over the next 10 years? Oh, how about a similar chance that you'll lose the relationship with your children?"
Men are not upset (in general) that they are single. It's women that are upset.
Then I lived in the real world and realized that, well, people don't actually want to have sex with anything that moves, and it's a gift to be a man who doesn't get dozens of sexual advances per day, and doesn't have to worry about what literally every person's intentions are.
> gift to be a man and not get dozens of advances a day
Women have to actually filter out the serial killers you know. That's what they're doing on the dating thing.
Also, reading between the lines of parent's post, I'm wondering if the son is depressed. Maybe suicidal? Trying to "light a fire under his ass" could drive him deeper within himself, and if someone wants to die, there isn't much you could threaten them with anyway.
I certainly appreciate the destructive feedback loop: failure contributes to depression, depression and idleness cause further failure. That lifestyle probably causes obesity, making everything worse. Then there's the datelessness, etc. But breaking the cycle requires, among other things, that the kid want to get better-- I mean really want it more than he's wanted anything in his life. Short of that, and unless you're willing to toss him out on the street and hope for the best, the options are not great.
There always could be depression behind things, so one has to be careful. Maybe arrange therapy, if necessary. For a young guy to be able to open up to his father could be really hard, especially if he's in a pinch, but acting as if you were a bystander isn't the solution.
(It seems the kid has autism according to the father, so it changes things quite a bit.)
You listen to his reality. You ask him about what games he is playing and how they work. You ask him about what he wishes for more of. You respect him and love him and build trust.
You tell him hard truths, gently, when he needs to hear them.
You accept that he will need to wander in the desert to find his own truth, and might end up somewhere other than you.
You reach back out when you miss him.
You expect him to know things you don’t, and you take joy in discovering new things about him you didn’t know were there.
You tell him when he is hurting you, draw the line on abusive behaviors. Explain why his behaviors are wrong and describe what you need from him to feel great about the relationship.
You tell him about your own struggles and weaknesses. You talk about your hopes for improvement. You are self deprecating.
You laugh at his jokes. You are playful. You try to make him laugh even if he doesn’t appreciate your humor.
You treat him the same way you treat the adults that you love and respect most, so that he grows into one.
Accept it's their choice. You're probably giving them more choice than you ever have before. And it's scary for both of you. But it's literally the only way that some people can learn how to grow up.
WTF is this comment.
Please do not take this advice.
Plato would even add the "and do well at both".
That is advice from a famous philosopher. He thought 16 was ideal for women, and 30 was ideal for men. I have no idea if he might have had a personal bias in that matter.
Failing at family formation is no darned good and worse -- it canNOT last. On this point f'get about Plato, Fromm, or me and, instead, listen to Darwin -- yup, he's on the case.
> "statutory rape"
Nonsense. 100% total nonsense. No where did I suggest or imply that they have sexual intercourse before she is 18 and married. And I would suggest that they not. If they don't have sexual intercourse, then there is no "rape".
You are profoundly confused.
You are also bitterly angry at me for NOTHING. I wrote calmly, rationally, clearly.
the start is a person who feels anxiety from their realization that alone they are vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature and society. "Alone" is essentially as in this thread. Then how to respond? From Fromm, love of god is one possible response -- some people suppress a lot anxiety that way and, maybe, have some forms of bonding that can help them in practical ways. Another response is love of spouse -- that's what's central in this thread. A third response is to join a group, that might tribal in some sense, political, religious, etc. -- but being in the group can help do something, hopefully productive, about the aloneness, vulnerability, and anxiety.
A biggie point is Fromm's explanation of love of spouse as a response to the anxiety and not much like the pop culture version of love. To be blunt, porn is Fromm's (iv) and misses all of the benefits of his (i) to (iii). What they do in the porn shots is useless -- the actors don't even pay attention to each other, no kissing, bonding. It does nothing good and, of course, can do harm.
Fromm's book is short. Get some views of some of the clinical psychology or marriage counseling communities. Then, since the book is so short, just read the thing.
I'm just passing along what I learned paying full tuition, trying desperately to save the life of my wife, which I failed to do. Don't take my advice -- ask others as I suggested. Then, did I mention, the book is short? Again, did I mention that won't find Fromm's ideas in pop culture.
Experience with just one marriage would not be nearly such good information or yield such good ideas.