Men, Women, Marriage, and Not Growing Up 3

Society does better when chldren have fathers.

The previous article in this series pointed out that the way men and women relate to each other affects not just their families, but their politics.  A man who's assumed the responsibility to take care of his wife and children opposes tax increases because higher taxes make it harder for him to take care of his family.  A man who's sponging off welfare women, in contrast, favors increased taxes so the government can pay more to support his harem of girlfriends.

This attitude infuses the middle class.  Finding child care is a huge problem for working mothers, whether married or not.  As usual, the government has intruded itself into the child-care business, requiring all kinds of licenses and certifications which push costs up.  Many middle-class women favor government subsidies for child care because government regulation has made it so expensive and so hard to find.

For thousands of years, the more help a woman could get raising children, the more children she could raise and the better she could pass on her genes.  Women help each other, of course, but a husband was the only one who could do the heavy lifting of helping feed the children and get them ready for adult responsibilities such as supporting their aging parents.

In order to pass on her genes, a woman not only had to grow up enough to take care of her children, she had to grow up enough to do whatever it took to persuade a man to help her raise her children.  If she wanted a comfortable old age, she had to help teach her children to take responsibility for her when they grew up.

Getting help with her children has been a bedrock concern of women since the dawn of time.  Is it any surprise that as soon as they got the vote, women started agitating for government help with child-rearing?  The name of the original welfare law, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which in practice means women who don't have men supporting them, shows the overall intent.  Women did not like depending on men for help and voted to ask the government to step in.

The Evil of Unexpected Consequences

The welfare system has led to several generations of women who have no need either to grow up or to persuade men to grow up.  I have a friend who taught 6th grade in northern Massachusetts 40 years ago.  One of her kids asked why he had to learn math.  "So you can get a job."

"Why should I get a job?  I'm going on welfare like my dad."

This young man had been taught not to worry about the future.  He had no need to plan for growing up or getting a job because the government had promised to take care of him.

All he had to do to get government aid was to refuse to provide for himself.  He planned to become a government-funded Peter Pan.

Liberals don't worry about the long-term costs of their wonderful ideas such as Social Security or pensions or any other entitlement.  Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to worry about long-term costs.  Taking on family responsibilities as opposed to shoving the cost of one's kids off on society more or less forces conservative modes of thought.

We're seeing a conservative resurgence of maternal maturity in England.  A London Times columnist pointed out that there can be an up-side to teenage pregnancy:

A couple of years ago I interviewed some teenage mothers in a deprived area of Liverpool. Thoughtful and conscientious with perfectly turned-out babies, they confounded virtually every stereotype of the feckless, chain-smoking child allowance-seeker popping out kids like bubblegum machines.

All the girls had a partner who was working and providing for the babies. Far from resigning themselves to a life on benefits, their motherhood had made them more determined to stop messing about, to drop their "wayward" friends, to get qualifications and give their babies a better life. Not always but often the baby can be the making of them....

While we might disapprove of these teenage mothers' life choices they can be just as disapproving of ours. Many cannot understand why many middle-class women have babies simply to farm them out to nannies and nurseries, failing to spend even their infant years at home with them. This they see as weird. They believe they make the better mothers. [emphasis added]

Do these "wayward" young British ladies perhaps have a point?  Their children have full-time, stay-at-home biological mothers raising them and for some, there's help from the father.  Although such children may not have as many toys as the Nintendo generation, extra attention from their biological parents blesses them in ways which are invisible to liberal social scientists.

I wish these young mothers well, but without the bonds of marriage, it's hard to believe that the fathers will stick around until the children are grown.  And as more and more research is showing, the presence of the biological father makes a profound difference to the future success of the child.

Fathers provide a seriousness and a rigor which mothers find difficult to enforce.  Consider how reproduction works.  A woman carries a child beneath her heart for nine months.  She rubs her belly, learning to anticipate where the baby will kick next.  She notices how her child squirms in response to various sounds and tries to figure out its future personality from how it responds.

She sheds her blood giving birth, then watches closely over the utterly helpless child 24/7 for the next several years.

Having been so intimate with her child from the very beginning, it is very hard for her to switch to a demanding taskmaster as the child grows up.  Very few women have enough physical and emotional strength to force their sons to grow up without a father's help.  Mr. Obama claimed that his grandmother was able to do that for him; opinions differ with respect to how well she succeeded.

The traditional father wanted his children to grow up as quickly as possible because shipping them out cut his costs.  His wife made him promise to take care of her and all the children they'd have as a condition of her providing benefits.  He had to support her, but the quicker he got their children earning money, the easier life became.

Now that child support stops at 18, neither earlier nor later, it makes no difference to an absentee father when or if his son grows up.  Payments end at the legal age regardless, so why should he care?  With women emotionally unable to force children to grow up, men no longer caring, and schools more concerned with finding the child's inner self than with imparting the curriculum, fewer kids grow up at all.

The Cost of Having a Man's Care

Government help with child care comes more or less without strings.  This is a far less demanding source of support than traditional marriage, or even an unmarried relationship.  A man does not believe that a woman is entitled to his support just because she's alive, she has to persuade him to be willing to care for her.

Although welfare mothers get hassled by social workers, government cuts them regular checks and they can do pretty much whatever they want most of the time.  Although many women idealize having a man care for them, there's a cost - a man can't take care of her unless she pays him the respect of deference to his leadership - in plain language, she has to do as she's told.

In one of the Peter Pan stories, Wendy's captured by pirates because she wandered off in the woods after being told to stay near the camp.  Peter couldn't protect Wendy because she wouldn't listen to him.

Should he have tied her up in the hollow tree to make sure she stayed put?  Feminists would be horrified at the thought, but she wouldn't have been captured if he had done that.

The Islamic world follows this model of caring for wives - if women aren't allowed to drive, they won't be car-jacked.  Keeping women locked up in a harem works quite well from the point of view of keeping them safe, but that's not a world most of us want to live in.

I have a friend who was driving in a convoy with his daughter during a heavy snow fall.  They needed gas; he got on the cell phone and told her they would stop in a particular gas station.  She didn't want that gas station, she insisted on a different one.

The station my friend wanted was on the right side of the highway; hers was on the left.  Going to her station required that they turn left twice across traffic, a dangerous maneuver with snow blowing all over.  He was trying to protect them both but she would have none of it.

Strictly speaking, she didn't belong to him any more, her husband was supposed to take care of her, but old habits die hard.

Being taken care of may get particularly frustrating when a woman's pregnant.  In his heart, a man knows that a pregnant women walks the valley of the shadow of death, that's why it's traditionally called "confinement" or "a delicate condition."

If the doctor tells her not to pick up heavy things and he wants to take care of her, he may object when he thinks she's lifting too much.  His taking care of her may make her feel restricted, but if she doesn't accept his taking care of her, he may stop caring about her.  Is that what she wants?

This goes both ways, of course, a woman can't take care of a man unless he listens to her counsel as in "Take your umbrella, it's supposed to rain."  This issue inspired the song:

Button up your overcoat when the wind blows free.
Take good care of yourself, you belong to me!

This brings us to a final clause in what women mean when they say they want a man to grow up.  Not only do they want him to settle down with one woman and take care of her, they also want him to belong to her.

Belonging to a Woman

Every man knows that having a woman belong to him means benefits on demand.  Ideally, she'll offer when he hasn't asked; that's one reason men pursue women so ardently.  Men see that women are concave and that they are convex.

Men know that women are able to do it far more often than men are; many men get frustrated because their women don't want to have sex as often as they do even though they could.  If a woman doesn't want to give herself to a man, he has trouble understanding why she'd object if he offered himself to some other willing woman.  Tiger Woods is only the most recent of many men who have encountered this contradiction in women's emotional makeup.

Men fail to realize the emotional cost to a woman of belonging to a man.  If he's hers, she will have the strength to belong to him, but if he's not hers, being his and staying his is difficult if not impossible.  Fidelity works both ways.

What does it take for a man to convince a woman that he belongs to her?  The Pick-Up Artist discussed in the previous article had to show his beloved Amanda that he'd be faithful to her, but he also had to open his heart to her.

A woman expects that a man will open himself to her in talk as she opens herself to him in bed.  If a man opens his heart to a woman, he'll learn the many little details that make her his special treasure and he'll find himself belonging to her.

Heart-to-heart talk is as important to a woman as body-to-body contact is to men.   If a man doesn't value his wife's thoughts and feelings, she'll be tempted to share them with someone else.  Unfortunately, experience shows that emotional adultery is as damaging to marriages as physical adultery - and one frequently leads to the other.

Country and Western artists sing, "Stand by your man," but this doesn't work if the man isn't hers or if she isn't his.  Thus, for relationships to work for the long term, the man and woman must both belong to each other in ways that are meaningful to each.

Each must be dedicated to serving the other; you can't float your own boat.  The only way your boat can be floated is for you to float someone else's boat, that gives him or her the emotional strength to float your boat by belonging to you and working towards your happiness.

Whose are the Children?

Letting a man take care of her is difficult for a woman because it restricts her freedom; letting him take care of her children is often a lot harder.  Many women say they want help with their children but get upset when they find out that men have different ideas how to bring up kids.

Another friend realized that she'd need her husband's help raising their sons - they were getting too big for her to keep them in line.  As she got her husband involved, however, she saw that he often took a far harsher line than she would have.  She had two choices - remonstrate with her husband, in which case, he'd happily bow out and let her raise them, or she could grin, bear it, and encourage her husband to stay involved in raising their children.

Women are made to comfort, not to correct.  They've been freaking out at what men do to their children for millennia.  The Jewish book of Proverbs, which is 4 or 5 thousand years old, offers comfort to women who'll heed it:

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beat him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou beatest him with the rod, and wilt deliver his soul from the nether-world.  Proverbs 23:13-14

In other words, ladies, not only will your child not die if your husband spanks, being spanked makes a huge difference in a child's life and saves him from far worse problems later. How many young hoodlums and delinquents could have been saved from a life of crime had some man cared enough to give them a good hiding at an appropriate time in their early life?

It's politically incorrect to point out that most single mothers don't do all that well raising their children, but it's for very simple reasons.  My very same friend who lamented the fact that the boys who wanted to pursue her daughter didn't want to grow up enough to take care of her has a 14 year old son whom she won't let grow up.

She freaked out when her son had to fly across the country by himself to visit his dad.  The very thought of letting him try to find the proper gate to board his flight gave her the willies.  Instead of dropping him off and telling him to get on the cell phone if anything went wrong, she parked, got a pass to go through security with him, escorted him to the gate, and waited until the plane took off.

Children need fathers.  Besides providing shelter, a father's job is to a) force his children to respect their mother so they can learn from her and b) shape 'em up and ship 'em out.

The only way a responsible father can get the kids off his payroll is to override his wife's desire that they stay little and cute forever, give them experiences that mature them, and get them ready to leave home and earn a living.  Watching her husband force her children to grow up can unsettle a woman nearly as much as watching him spank them.

Besides their general emotional reluctance to force their children to grow up, there's another reason why a woman might find it hard to force her son to mature.  During many centuries of natural selection, women who wanted nothing to do with men were bred out of the gene pool.

Women who wanted to be around men had children, and the stronger their desire to hang around a man, the more she'd put up with, and the more likely she was to get help.  Thus, the women who raised the most children were not only best at persuading men to help them, they were the most willing to put up with men.

Women seem to marry partly out of loneliness because natural selection did such a super job of making women want to be with men.  My friend's husband is long gone.  She knows that she is unlikely to find another husband.  Even with all the dating web sites out there, the odds are against her.  When her son leaves home, she'll no longer have a man in her life.  Is there any surprise that women don't want their sons to grow up?

Fathers aren't around any more and don't care.  Mothers don't want their sons to grow up.  Most school teachers are women who don't want boys to grow up, they want them to sit still and be quiet, they want them to act ladylike.  We've become a matriarchal society with no room for men who act like men.  Is it any wonder that men aren't growing up?

The Frustrations of Having a Man

It's pretty amazing that women want to hang out with men at all.  Men have no clue the problems, frustrations, and upset they cause women.  Women who've been around men a lot know what I mean.  Younger women fail to realize that although men differ in intelligence, skills, and personality, in the ways they irritate women, all men are pretty much alike.

When young ladies gripe to men about their boyfriends, I ask, "Did his mother like that?"  Since the aspects of masculinity that drive women around the been are pretty much the same, she'll always agree that his mother didn't like it either.  "His mother was a lot bigger than he was for a long time.  If she couldn't get him to knock it off, what chance have you?"

When women who've been through multiple relationships think back on it, they often realize that what irritated them about all the men they'd had was the very same bedrock masculine characteristics.  If a woman can't put up with a man's essential nature, she shouldn't marry at all.

A man can't treat a woman as his treasure if she's ragging him all the time about being a man.  If she gripes all the time, he'll avoid getting more involved with her beyond playing with her and he'll walk out when her griping finally gets to him.  If, however, she takes care to make the ten feet around her the most wonderful place in all the world for him to be, that's where you'll find him.

What's a Woman to Do?

Neither men nor women seem to want to think much about relationships, they'd rather emote.  Unfortunately, emotions can lead into relationships that range from the unproductive to the downright harmful.  That's why it's a good idea to think about a relationship before emotions get too strong.

As long as men have been men and women have been women, a woman gained a strong reproductive advantage from being able to persuade a man to take care of her and help her raise her children.  The more help she could get, the more children she raised.

Being generally smaller and weaker than men, however, there was no practical way for a woman to compel a man to help her.  Instead, she had to make him want to help her.  For thousands of years, natural selection has favored women who were able to understand men well enough to make them want to help with the children.

The pick-up artist we discussed in the last article described how he met his eventual wife Amanda thus:

We started hanging out and everything clicked.

Being a man, he wouldn't realize that "everything clicked" because of Amanda's ability to understand him well enough that she could be what he really wanted - which he may not have known himself.  There's nothing wrong with a woman doing that, provided that being what he wants doesn't strain her character too much.  If making him happy comes naturally to her and his appreciation of her makes her happy enough that it's worth her trouble to make him happy, why not?

A woman's ability to understand men is called "female intuition" or "empathy" or whatever term psychologists prefer.  By any name, intuition seems like magic to men who don't understand women nearly as well as women understand men.

In my experience, if a young lady controls her emotions and actually thinks about relationships in general and about each specific man in particular, she usually gets the right answer.  Many women refuse to look hard at situations involving men because they're afraid of what they might see.  Not looking before you leap is a recipe for disaster, of course.

The fundamental way for a woman to deal with relationships with men is to think long and hard about each individual man before letting her emotions get involved at all.  Her intuition will generally lead her to walk away from disasters, but if she lets herself fall in love before thinking, it may be too late to walk away.

The basic point is that all men cost pretty much the same.  If a woman walks away from a man hoping that the next one will be different. she's setting herself up for serial heartbreak.  If, on the other hand, he treats her well enough that she can ignore the parts of his masculinity that she doesn't like and enjoy the rest, they'll be OK.

Thinking About Men

First, a woman must decide what she wants - if you don't know what you want, you're unlikely to get it.  Does she really want a man in her life?  If not, she can get a job, support herself, and avoid the bother of coping with a man.

She can even pass on her genes without a man - enough women have had themselves artificially inseminated that having a baby that way is no longer newsworthy.  A woman can preserve her genes without having to put up with a man.

What's more, most women don't need to go that far.  The article about the pick-up artist and this account of the dating scene show that any halfway-attractive woman can have all the short-term sex she wants with as many men as she pleases.

With the pill to ward off pregnancy and antibiotics to take care of STDs, she can have as much recreational sex as she desires without making any commitments at all.  If she wants a child, she can have that too.  One might wonder how anyone can find happiness that way, but who knows?  Lots of people, including women, claim to be happy in that lifestyle.

If a woman wants longer-term involvement, she can move in with a man.  She'll have to provide benefits and pay her share of the rent.  She may have to co-sign the apartment lease but she needn't belong to the man and shouldn't expect him to belong to her.

The problem with a woman having short-term sexual relationships is that it makes it less likely that a man will be willing to grow up and take care of her if she decides she wants a long-term marriage.  Natural selection favors men like the pick-up artist who could talk their way to having sex with many, many women.  Any time he had sex, the girl might get pregnant and would have to bring up his child in order to pass on her genes.  This would pass on his genes at no cost to him.

A man who wasn't charming enough to spread his genes that way had no choice but to settle down and take care of a woman.  If he didn't do that, he'd be bred out of the gene pool.  If you look up your family tree at your father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc., every one of those men managed to get a woman pregnant under circumstances such that she was able to raise the child to maturity, either with his help or without it depending on circumstances.

If a man settles down and take care of his wife, he'll multiply his genes only if her children are his.  If he lets pick-up artists near her, he may raise other men's children.  A man who wasn't possessive and jealous, a man who let other men near his woman, risked being bred out of the gene pool even though he was taking care of a woman.

Most men are going to be reluctant to settle down with a woman with a promiscuous past because it's hard to know if she can be trusted to stay faithful to him.  Natural selection has made men care deeply about having women be faithful because there's no gain for them in raising other men's children.  Any man who didn't care about female fidelity had his genes bred out long ago.

Assuming that a woman wants a long-term traditional marriage and avoids promiscuity, achieving such traditional goals is much more difficult than surfing the dating wave.  Does she want permanent marriage enough to let a man take care of her, which means following his lead from time to time?  Is she willing to meet his needs?  For a man to give up his right to pursue every woman in the world in favor of belonging to her, she has to be all the women in the world to him and keep his desire focused on her.

The book What Does Woman Want discusses many failed marriages.  To the writer's surprise, many of the failed marriages had become sexless because the men were into pornography.  They got into pornography because their wives were reluctant and they needed an outlet for the surplus desire.  No real flesh-and-blood woman can compete with the airbrushed, idealized images of professionally-crafted porn; the men gradually lost interest in their wives.

It's clear that it's better for a woman to be treated as a treasure than to be thought of as a toy.  If that's what she wants, she has to say so and asked to be treated as a treasure before the first date, but that's not enough.

The man not only has to treasure her, he has to grow up enough to take care of her so she can take care of their children.  He also has to be mature enough to be willing to belong to her, because that's what makes it possible for her to belong to him, and be willing to belong to her by opening his heart to her.

And finally, as old-fashioned as it sounds, he needs be able to afford a place for the family to live and the necessary provisions of life without her earnings, as young couples discover to their discomfiture on the arrival of the first baby.

A woman may have to wait quite a while to find a man who's willing to grow up enough to treasure her and who's worth belonging to, but the alternative is a life of frustration as she undertakes the thankless and usually futile effort to turn a boy into a man.  Even Tinker Bell and Wendy working together couldn't force Peter Pan to grow up when he didn't want to.

Immaturity Versus Maturity

Maturity has a profound effect on a person's politics - children would rather be taken care of than earn their own way, adults would prefer to keep more of what they earn.  It used to be that people had no choice about growing up - anyone who didn't grow up had a pretty good chance of starving to death.  The last article in this series explains how the fact that society no longer forces people to grow up affects everything about our society, from politics to economics, and how the health of our families and of our nation is intimately and indivisibly linked.

Lee Tydings is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Lee Tydings or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Many commentators just don't get it. By making it so easy to get out of marriage, they're ensuring that many men refuse to get married at all:

Divorce, No-Fault Style
New York is on course to finally allow people to end their marriage without having to establish who was at fault. What are the pros and cons of easier marital splits?

Initially, some states limited no-fault divorce to cases in which both partners wanted to dissolve the marriage. In theory, limiting no-fault to mutual consent seemed fairer to spouses who wanted to save their marriages, but in practice it perpetuated the abuses of fault-based divorce, allowing one partner to stonewall or demand financial concessions in return for agreement, and encouraging the other to hire private investigators to uncover or fabricate grounds for the court. Expensive litigation strained court resources, while the couple remained vulnerable to subjective rulings based on a judge's particular opinion about what a spouse should put up with in a marriage.

Eventually every state except New York moved to what is in effect unilateral no-fault, wherein if one party insisted that his or her commitment to the marriage had irretrievably ended, that person could end the union (albeit with different waiting periods). New York has been the holdout in insisting that a couple could get a no-fault divorce only if both partners agreed to secure a separation decree and then lived apart for one year. Otherwise, the party who wanted the divorce had to prove that the other was legally at fault.

In every state that adopted no-fault divorce, whether unilateral or by mutual consent, divorce rates increased for the next five years or so. But once the pent-up demand for divorces was met, divorce rates stabilized. Indeed, in the years since no-fault divorce became well-nigh universal, the national divorce rate has fallen, from about 23 divorces per 1,000 married couples in 1979 to under 17 per 1,000 in 2005.

Even during the initial period when divorce rates were increasing, several positive trends accompanied the transition to no-fault. The economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the University of Pennsylvania report that states that adopted no-fault divorce experienced a decrease of 8 to 16 percent in wives' suicide rates and a 30 percent decline in domestic violence.

Social changes always involve trade-offs. Unilateral divorce increases the risk that a partner who invests in her (or more rarely, his) marriage rather than in her own earning power, and does not engage in "bad behavior," may suffer financially as well as emotionally if the other partner unilaterally ends the marriage. When courts have not taken this sacrifice into account in dividing property, homemakers have been especially disadvantaged.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is more often the wife than the husband who is ready to leave. Approximately two-thirds of divorces - including those that come late in life - are initiated by wives. Paula England, a senior fellow at the Council on Contemporary Families, found that surveys that separately ask divorced wives and husbands which one wanted the divorce confirm that more often it was the woman who wanted out of the marriage. This jibes with research showing that women are physiologically and emotionally more sensitive to unsatisfactory relationships.

It's true that unilateral divorce leaves the spouse who thinks the other's desire to divorce is premature with little leverage to slow down the process or to pressure the other partner into accepting counseling. It allows some individuals to rupture relationships for reasons many would consider shallow and short-sighted.

But once you permit the courts to determine when a person's desire to leave is legitimate, you open the way to arbitrary decisions about what is or should be tolerable in a relationship, made by people who have no stake in the actual lives being lived. After all, there is growing evidence that marital counseling can repair some marriages even after infidelity, which New York has long accepted as a fault sufficient to end a marriage. But that does not mean New York should reduce its existing grounds for divorce even further.

A far better tack is to encourage couples to mediate their parting rather than litigate it, especially if children are involved. In a 12-year study of divorcing couples randomly assigned to either mediation or litigation, the psychologist Robert Emery of the University of Virginia and his colleagues found that as little as five to six hours of mediation had powerful and long-term effects in reducing the kinds of parental conflict that produce the worst outcomes for children. Parents who took part in mediation settled their disputes in half the time of parents who used litigation; they were also much more likely to consult with each other after the divorce about children's discipline, moral training, school performance and vacation plans.

Paradoxically, people who went through mediation were also more likely to express regret over the divorce in the ensuing years than those who litigated. But New York legislators should face the hard truth that there are always trade-offs in the imperfect world of intimate relationships. To my mind it is better to have regrets about the good aspects of your former marriage because you were able to work past some of your accumulated resentments than to have no regrets because you had to ratchet up the hostility to get out in the first place.
June 17, 2010 6:15 PM

In my view EQUALITY in "Family Court" is the best way to defend Marriage & children. This "Family" Court Equality, all things being equal, (no abuse or violence or bits on the side etc.) will mean that the spouse who wants out, leaves NO children, NO money & NO house rendering the innocent spouse a widow or a widower almost as the case may be. This EQUALITY will also IMMEDIATELY end the Nasty Divorces and Bitter Custody Battles that feature so prominantly in the media today. But the deserting spouse will be required to tell the children, in COURT with a Judge listening when the youngest child is 25, why the children had NO mother or NO father as the case may be. Since walking out, the destering spouse would have been FORBIDDEN to contact the children directly or indirectly except through the INNOCENT spouse's lawyer. If the divorce is mutual BOTH parents must be required to tell the children, in COURT with a Judge listening, (Ladies First) when the youngest child is 25, why the children had NO mother or NO father as the case may be. In an IDEAL world, Divorce would be scrapped, or modified so that ONLY the INNOCENT spouse can re-marry.
In my view the PARENT who walks out (unless there is Abuse or Cheating involved) is an UNFIT parent who could NOT give a damm about the children.

February 19, 2013 10:17 AM
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