The Pre-Adulthood Phenomenon: To be (an adult) or not to be (an adult)? That is the question.

Where Have the Good Men Gone? Not just a line from Bonnie Tyler’s hit song on the Footloose Soundtrack, “Holding Out for a Hero,” but also the title of a recent Wall Street Journal Article, written by Kay S. Hymowitz, well worth the read. Coupled with a response article written by the National Catholic Register’s Jennifer Fulwiler, entitled “Where Have All the Good (Wo)Men Gone?,” the two set out to investigate the growing cultural phenomenon: pre-adulthood. In an attempt to define the term, Hymowitz quotes “One of the most influential psychologists of adolescence, Erik Erikson, described the stage as a “moratorium,” a limbo between childhood and adulthood characterized by role confusion, emotional turmoil and identity conflict.”

Perhaps her most interesting assertion and perhaps the main point of the article is this, “Pre-adulthood has [also] confounded the primordial search for a mate. It has delayed a stable sense of identity, dramatically expanded the pool of possible spouses, mystified courtship routines and helped to throw into doubt the very meaning of marriage.”

As many of you know, I currently live in the Washington, DC area. As our nations capital and a city with perhaps the lowest unemployment rate in today’s otherwise often unreliable economy, (Izzo, Phil. Wall Street Journal. “City Unemployment Rates”) this fast paced city is a mecca for the pre-adolescence the article discusses. Even within the Catholic/Christian circles in which I often roam, relational “stagnancy” lingers in the air.

Fulwiler rightly states that often these types of discussions can “degenerate into chicken-and-egg arguments about which gender’s bad behavior sparked the bad behavior of the other.” However, my concern is not with who started it, but rather with who will finish it. Will men reclaim their innate characteristics of “fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity (Hymowitz)” and become once again the leaders of our families and will women encourage, by their beauty, receptivity, and love, men to be men?

Will we choose to be a generation that eventually just falls into adulthood accidentally, or will we face it head on and start making decisions that correspond with our call to be Men and Women rather than guys and girls. To be (an adult) or not to be (an adult)?

[For the original articles, which I strongly encourage you to read, click on the images below.]

Where Have The Good Men Gone?
Kay S. Hymowitz argues that too many men in their 20s are living in a new kind of extended adolescence.

Where Have All the Good (Wo)Men Gone?