For some 20-somethings, growing up is hard to do, says Penn State historian

Historians in the News

Gary Cross is a professor of history at Penn State University whose most recent book, "Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity," addresses just that.

"This trend has been building up over the last 50 years to where today it really is hard to see [role] models, to recognize these models of maturity," he said. "Men have, in effect, slowly and not always steadily rebelled against the role of being providers and being sacrificers."

The old familiar rites of passage included graduation from college, securing employment, marriage, starting a family -- but not necessarily participating in the child-rearing -- and in many cases, conscription into the U.S. armed forces.

Now, "Men who are in their mid-20s are more independent for a longer period than before because of the rise in the age of marriage. In 1970, when I was 24, men married at 22. Now they're married at 28; that's a big difference," Dr. Cross said.

Women are getting married at a later age as well (25.6 years) but for some reason, the idea that they, too, must "grow up" is not really at issue. For starters, women have made great strides in terms of education and employment -- although they're still not as well-paid as male counterparts -- over the past 50 years....

"Part of it is the way boys have always been indulged more than girls in the typical family," Dr. Cross said.

"One thing that has struck me is, early in the 20th century, how indulgent they were of openly naughty boys. Not so much with the girls."...
Read entire article at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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