Parents, Society to Blame for Guys Falling Behind

There’s a reason 20-something men don’t want to move out of Mom’s house.

The March Philly Mag cover story on “The Sorry Lives and Confusing Times of Today’s Young Men” is generating a lot of comments, so the editors asked me to explain how I came to write it. When I was in high school in Doylestown in the 1970s, there was a clear path to success. I and my fellow C.B. East grads went away to college, graduated, found jobs, bought cars, found spouses, bought houses, had babies, had lives. I assumed my kids’ generation would follow the same well-worn trajectory: out of Mom and Dad’s house and off into the world. Which is why it came as such a surprise a few years back to look around at my friends and relations and realize: Something strange was happening. Their daughters, sure enough, were treading what I’d always thought of as the path to success. But oh, their sons! Half a dozen of my relatives had promising boys who just gave up on college. One friend’s son got kicked out of school for drinking and bad behavior. Another close friend had all three of her darling boys back in the nest after they’d dropped out of college. She and her husband took to going on weekend getaways just to escape the depressing atmosphere of failure to launch.

My default assumption when a kid is unsuccessful is pretty brutal: It’s the parents’ fault. But how could it be that so many people I like—I love—were abruptly revealed to be lousy mothers and fathers? And I’d never once suspected as much?

But if it wasn’t the parenting, what? What would cause what seemed like an entire generation of male offspring to be content to curl up on Mom’s sofa and play Call of Duty all day long? Didn’t they want educations? Didn’t they want jobs? Didn’t they even want to get laid?

I had to know. So I set off on a months-long journey to try to figure out why young women all around me seemed to be thriving, while young men were folding their hands. I read up on the research. I talked to sociologists, psychologists, physicians, authors, those successful young women and, most interestingly, to young men who’d given up and moved back home. And I discovered that the causes of this strange generational malaise were much more complicated than I’d ever imagined. Young men today are trapped by a perfect storm of societal forces: overbearing parents, an educational system that plays to the strengths of women, a brutal job market, big industries (movies, online porn, video games) that laud boorishness, and a popular culture that urges them to sing along with Bruno Mars:

Today I don’t feel like doing anything/ I just wanna lay in my bed …

The result, as laid out in the cover story, is a tragedy—not just for these lost young men, but for the parents who love them, and for the young women who long to love them and share lives with them. I expect I’ll hear from a lot of angry young men about what I wrote. I want them to know: Now that I better understand their plight, I don’t blame them for it. And I’m sorry, along with all the other parents I know, for our own contributions to the mess.

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  • bjeichel10

    Is there any empirical data to back up this article? How do these things impact men so much more than women? I’m left thinking you only are basing this on your own observations of people you know.

  • bjeichel10

    My mistake. I skimmed over the first sentence and did not see that this post is referencing a longer article that does include data and harder facts.

  • grerp1

    It’s all about incentives and disincentives. Yes, the job market is brutal right now for young people, but it’s not the economy that is halting marriage. Young men still got married in the Depression. Young men married during every war we’ve ever had. Technology throws a monkey wrench into things, but young men aren’t eschewing marriage because of porn or video games. Having a kind, supportive, caring, nurturing, loyal, attractive living partner is going to be preferable to porn any day for the vast majority of men. But the system isn’t producing kind, caring, nurturing, loyal, attractive women who want to be wives and mothers. It’s set up to create crass, overweight, “empowered,” mannish women who don’t particularly like children or domesticity and who think sex is a contact sport and want to play until their fertility window is slamming shut.

    This is not the kind of woman men get excited about committing to.

    Furthermore, the system currently allows for a sort of children&home dream fulfillment without men via welfare/section8/WIC/food stamps/school lunches/medicaid. This version is decidedly inferior to traditional home and hearth, but it does allow women to have and raise children without men.

    Many women opt for this version without even making a go of the other which makes a significant portion of the young female population single mothers. Here’s another thing about men: they don’t particularly want to raise other men’s children either.

    Additionally, the system is set up – not accidentally – to take both a man’s money and his access to his children if his wife or girlfriend decides she wants out. And she doesn’t have to have a good reason either. She’s tired of him? He can say good-bye to his future. The police and courts will work hard to separate him from both his family and his money. Two generations of men have now grown up seeing their fathers fully shorn after divorce. That’s a bit of a disincentive for settling down.

    Want men to want to get married again? Get rid of sexist Police State laws like VAWA, make divorce harder to get, and give fathers default custody upon divorce. That right there will make divorce rates plummet because while plenty of women don’t seem to mind chucking their husbands, they do not want to lose access to their children.

    Women also have to realize that what men find attractive is not what women find attractive. Men are not sexually aroused by advanced degrees in liberal arts subjects, and they don’t care if you crashed through the glass ceiling at work. They want to be around pleasant women who like men and will treat them with respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/herb.nowell Herb

    Ms. Hingston,

    If you’re looking for an example of why today’s young men are failing to man up and thus leading to your (only the latest of a long line) article on “where have all the good men gone” maybe this quote from another article here at Philly Post:

    “A new Gallup poll asked Americans this question: If you could only have one child, would you rather it be a boy or a girl? Overall, 40 percent of us wanted a boy, 28 percent preferred a girl, and 26 percent weren’t sure or didn’t care. I can be fairly certain that a lot of the people answering this question don’t already have children, because if they did—and I have one of each—girls would have won, hands down. “(1)

    People who actually have children would choose girls hands down. Right there you’ve encapsulated what 30 or so years of boys, especially those growing up in the past 20, have been told, both directly and indirectly, their entire lives. Imagine reading in a web article that your own mother says having had you she enjoys girls much more. Now imagine how they would lead you to see yourself and your place in the world. Would it lead you to think you need to charge ahead because you can make an important contribution? Would it lead you to enjoy the company of women knowing they value you because of what your male nature adds to the world?

    I suspect it would lead you to spend more time in domains where you’re appreciated and what you do matters. In severe cases it might lead you to think, “every one else can screw off then”.

    I’d hate to think what kind of mother has such antipathy to boys that she’s willing to call them undesirable in public even though she has one. Perhaps you should find the author of the article where I got that quote and then interview her son about why he’s heading down the drop-out line like his peers.

    (1)http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2011/06/27/so-youd-rather-have-a-baby-boy/

  • 1Phucking Cunt

    “an educational system that plays to the strengths of women”

    That openly discriminates against us and is applauded for doing so. You searched for nothing other than excuses to justify your blatant misandry. Like your useless cunt daughter, you’ve has everything handed to you, at the expense of men. Your religion of man hate and perpetual victim hood has destroyed marriage, ruined your whore daughters and cheated America’s sons. Fuck you cunt for actively pushing your goddamn misandry and discriminating against us. I spit in the faces of your useless fucking daughters and punch them in their faces. We’re all equal now bitch, you’re just the weaker man.

  • Sasquatch10

    Another big part of the equation is that feminism has turned women into incredibly difficult, bitchy, annoying little harridans. Our culture has encouraged women to take on masculine characteristics because such women make more money that they can spend on iphones and other corporate products. While obviously this is a great boon for the economy, masculine women are not attractive from a relationship point of view. Sure, they can still be physically attractive, but their attitudes and personalities are far from ideal (i.e. feminine, sweet, nurturing, etc.). Men have always worked to provide for a family, but when there are no women around that you want to start a family with, what is the point? They don’t need us anyways.