This morning on NPR, Morning Edition featured a story about "Generation Next". Basically, people within the 18-25 year age range do not consider themselves adults and are not usually considered adults by their own parents. Many want to have careers and want to wait to get married and settle down to have a family.
When I hear things like this it stirs up some interesting emotions. I was 18 when I got engaged to my now-husband. We got married two days before my 21st birthday. I had my baby girl about a month before I turned 24. I've heard it said that we were too young, especially for marriage. Well, we've been together for over 7 years total and we're still enjoying each other. I have met a couple of people my age who are astonished at my "way of life" and family, and say "My gosh, I can't even imagine being married/having a kid at my age!" This reaction has always made me feel like an outsider.
So this morning's program got me thinking. Z's friends in school are all going to have older parents. Probably most will be 8 or 10 years older than my husband and I. I have a friend who is 34 and her son is now almost 8 months old. My best friend is 26 and her kids (she's not having any yet) will be at least 3 years younger than Z.
I feel it's great if 18-25 year olds don't need to take on the real responsibilities of the world, so they don't yet feel like adults. I'm sure we'll still be helping Z if she needs it, and I don't want her to feel like she's being pushed into being a "grown-up". Yet I also feel like an outsider when I think about how many people out there my age are so different from me. I always felt compelled to settle down and have a family. Not from the outside, but from the inside. I wanted it.
My own father was 36 when I was born. My mom was 30. Growing up, I felt like my mom could understand my situation better, maybe because she was younger. So I wanted to be closer in age to my own children. Thinking about that now, I can look at things in another way. My father was born in 1946. His parents were "traditional". He was raised differently than my mom. Now I think he was less approachable and understood me less when I was growing up because he had a different perspective of me. He thought "children should be this way" and "growing up should be this way" and it wasn't the same for me. My mom had a more open mind and could see more things my way. I bet that many more parents of 18-25 year olds now have more open minds and in that way can remain closer to their children. And their children don't feel the need to push away.
All that said, I am very happy with my life and my family. I wouldn't trade any of it for a career or a chance to travel more or whatever. I like it just the way it is.