Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Is It About 20-Somethings? (NY Times Magazine)

The whole idea of milestones, of course, is something of an anachronism; it implies a lockstep march toward adulthood that is rare these days. Kids don’t shuffle along in unison on the road to maturity. They slouch toward adulthood at an uneven, highly individual pace. Some never achieve all five milestones, including those who are single or childless by choice, or unable to marry even if they wanted to because they’re gay. Others reach the milestones completely out of order, advancing professionally before committing to a monogamous relationship, having children young and marrying later, leaving school to go to work and returning to school long after becoming financially secure.

Even if some traditional milestones are never reached, one thing is clear: Getting to what we would generally call adulthood is happening later than ever. But why? That’s the subject of lively debate among policy makers and academics. To some, what we’re seeing is a transient epiphenomenon, the byproduct of cultural and economic forces. To others, the longer road to adulthood signifies something deep, durable and maybe better-suited to our neurological hard-wiring. What we’re seeing, they insist, is the dawning of a new life stage — a stage that all of us need to adjust to.
This is a seriously lengthy but fascinating article on a trend I'd guess a lot of us were aware of long before the media started thinking about it. Maybe we weren't thinking in terms of the "traditional milestones" but I know many of us simply don't feel our age, and aren't even remotely concerned about the fact that we might not be married with children by the time we hit our 30s. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this "phenomenon" - is it a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing?

Read the full article here.
And read one Atlantic Monthly writer's response here.
Finally, check out Slate's discussion of / reader comments on the article here.

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