Friday, April 01, 2011

Manchild vs. Womanchild


Cases Of Shaken Manchild Syndrome On The Rise

On a serious note, does anybody have any data on the relative prevalence over time of post-college-age men and women still living at home?  ONN is obviously poking fun at what has become a cultural stereotype:  slacker twenties guy living in his parents’ basement.  But has the number of such guys really grown over the last thirty years compared to the number of girls?

That said, this is one double standard I kind of get.  I don’t have any sons, but if I did, I’m pretty sure my baseline expectation of them would be that, post-college, they should be making their way in the world.  But my daughters?  In theory, they can stay until they get married.

In theory.  In practice, I can see all sorts of obstacles that would need to be overcome.  First, domestic responsibilities.  Mom and Dad really don’t want to be cleaning up after you when you’re 23.  In fact, we don’t really want to be nagging you to clean up after yourself either.  So be prepared to do your share of cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., and still keep your room looking presentable.

Second . . . what are your long-term plans, exactly?  Waiting to get married isn’t a bad plan, but are you making good use of your time?  I recall spending a week at a friend’s house while I was house-hunting in a new city.  He had two daughters, the younger of which was still living at home.  She might have still been college aged, but she wasn’t attending.  She had a part-time job doing something or other that left her with lots of free time.  But what bothered me was that she would stay up watching television most of the night.  The picture she presented was:  slacker.  I thought to myself then that I would have a hard time watching my daughter spend her time like this.

On the other hand, I knew (of) another young lady that forewent college and career in favor of staying home until she got married.  (Full disclosure:  it was the younger sister of the woman I blogged about here, although the video I referenced has since been taken down.)  But she had the reputation of being unusually productive doing volunteer work in her church and community.  And she did, in fact, get married fairly young.


Anonymous said...

"In theory, they can stay until they get married."

Subsitute "must" for "can". Pretty much the only way to keep them from becoming harlots.

Justin said...

That's a great analysis, Phi. I wouldn't mind supporting my sons or daughters at home, as long as they are fruitful in their time. Supporting a pointless slacker, yeah, that would be difficult.

I sincerely hope my sons stay at home long enough to build their own nest egg. Our cultural habit of kicking our boys out when they turn 18 helps keep them members of the urban peasantry.

And don't kid yourself, you are still a member of the urban peasantry if you are floating a mortgage.

Dr. Φ said...

My older daughter (10) is very ambitious, with dreams of USAFA and med school since she was five, and talent to match. That's not a career track for someone kept at home.

My younger daughter is much more average. She loves horseback riding and wants to be a "cowgirl". Not sure how that's going to work out. But I suspect that the gains to her from moving far from home before getting married are a lot smaller.

As for a son . . . I don't know. I love my parents, but by the time I went off to boarding school at not quite 15, our relationship had become a source of endless conflict. I would hate to have had that draw out longer than it did, and I would hate to prolong it with my own offspring any longer than was necessary to see them safely leave the nest. That might be more of an issue with a son than a daughter. Too much alpha male in too small a space.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the excessive comments, but Blogger has twice now eaten my writing, so I'm breaking this up into two or three comments.

I lived with my folks for about three weeks while I was engaged. I was actually kind of looking forward to it. I was working across town and saving up for the move to Deseret. Mom and Dad both wanted me to move back in after college until I got my feet on the ground, but I carefully avoiced that. But here was kind of a last chance before I moved far, far away. The plan was for me to move in for about four months. The fact that I left after three weeks gives you an idea of how well it went. My problem was not with my father, but rather my mother.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I give up. Comment is here.

Brandon Berg said...

Good luck with that, Eumaios. Hourly hotels are huge in East Asian countries, where children typically live with their parents until they get married.

Dr. Φ said...

Well, Mrs. Φ and I agree that, beyond college, we won't subsidize a child's lifestyle away from home, especially not in a den of vice like NYC.

In reference to the double standard, I thought of it more in terms of the expectation among our class that a man should be able to support his family financially. It's not that we don't expect anything of daughters, just that the expectations are different. But I can kind of see how it might appear that way.

Anonymous said...

Clancy and I haven't talked about it, but I would advocate subsidizing a son or daughter if and only if it was material to a career goal that would likely be self-supporting (not a Hollywood stagehand), for a defined period (an internship at a law firm or a congressional office or something, for example) AND realistic (or, if the goal is not obtained, would be helpful to new goals).

I suspect Clancy would be less supportive of the idea, however.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the double standard, I think that for many people that is why it exists. But I frequently see the dynamic among people with... less traditional attitudes. Alternately, they're still unconsciously swayed by traditional gender roles even if they consciously reject them.