Sociologists and demographers often struggle to find a specific delineation between one acknowledged generation and the next. As such, it can be difficult for a single person to identify as a member of a particular titled generation. The bigger picture, however, is often more clear, as the values, tendencies, and habits of a generation become evident even with a specific demarcation indicating the exact year in which that generation began. For example, the generation known as “millennials,” represents a large group of those born from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, at least according to generally accepted standards. As the millennials are now becoming parents, their views and approach to family life are beginning to impact overall social trends, including those regarding children before marriage and divorce.
The Youthful Face of Change
Every generation represents a departure of sorts from the one that preceded it, especially the previous two. Millennials are, for the most part, the children of Generation X, and the grandchildren of the Baby Boomers. Just as Gen Xers challenged the values of their Baby Boomer parents, with the introduction of punk, metal, and grunge music, and the rejection of more conservative religious, political and social views, the trend has continued with millennials. Nowhere has this been more obvious than in the dramatic shifts in family values and what millennials hold as important.
Baby Before Marriage?
Several studies in recent years have suggested that more and more young people are eschewing the social pressure to marry. This has led to an increase in the average age of first-time newlyweds, and a growing number of cohabitating couples who consider themselves, for all intents and purposes, a family. In fact, according to a Time Magazine survey, only about 40 percent of millennial parents say that it is very or extremely important to be married before having a baby. Compared to the approximately 50 percent of Gen X and Boomer parents who believe marriage is very or extremely important first, the change over a single generation seems rather large.
Shifts in Divorce Rate Too
While it is certainly common for a new generation to publicly state views different than those of their parents, the real proof may be in the numbers. A recent statistical analysis conducted by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan highlighted the difference between two groups of subjects. The first consisted of parents who had a child between 1985 and 1995—presumably dominated by Gen X parents—and the second consisted of parents who had a child between 1997 and 2010—presumably a large number of millennials, along with a few Gen Xers.
The research indicated that, while a child before marriage increased the likelihood of divorce in the first group by as much as 60 percent, there was no such increased risk of divorce among the second group. Other factors, such a finances, diverging personalities, and normal relationship struggles, of course, still led to divorce, but the effect of a child before marriage has all but disappeared. The researchers themselves observed that parents in the second group seemed less likely to be pressured into marriage due to the child’s birth, resulting in a lower number of “forced marriages” destined to end badly.
Divorce Help for Any Age
No matter what generation with which you identify, the experienced St. Charles divorce attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato are sensitive to your unique needs and values. We will take the time to understand what is important to you and to help you achieve the favorable resolution you deserve. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule your free consultation today.