To start, I thought I would start with one of the more tame topics that has come up in my mind: marriage. In particular, young people getting married.
From what I have seen, it seems like people my age (early-20's) are in a rush to get married or engaged. Or I hear that so-and-so got married and has a kid now. I just see all these people declaring their engagements on Facebook, (preceded by months of "with my boo" and "missing my love," to be sure), and think "Really? What's the rush?"
I am only speaking for my community. I have no clue what it is like in the rest of the country, but I live in a small, conservative town. In fact, my small, conservative town is surrounded by other towns that feel much the same way.
But my issue is that we are still not completely matured. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, our brains are still maturing. The part of the brain that deals with emotional responses doesn't have any inhibitors, so it is more active than in that of an adult. Statistically, this change is observed at around age 25. So, the way a young adult acts now may change completely in the next four years or so. I can say now, that I am no where near the person I was four years ago, or that I even like the same things.
All of this, on top of the roughly 50/50 chance of a marriage working out in our country. In fact, if I include all the people I attended high school with that I know have been engaged or married, and look at the success rate, it comes out to about a 50% chance of working out. One person was even engaged last year (2012), broke off the engagement before the summer, and is now engaged again (as of a month ago I believe). Another married six months after graduating from high school. A marriage that lasted about two years.
So, why does this bother me so much? I think it has something to do with the possibility of children. I was brought up in a broken home after my parents split up, as many people are. We (my brother and I) stayed with our mother, and our father moved back to the town his parents lived in, which was a 10 minute drive away. There were no formal visitation rights, they both agreed that he could have us whenever he wanted. And for a while, maybe the first three or four years, he would come pick us up for maybe one Saturday a month, or his parents would come pick us up whenever they wanted to see us, or I would ride with them to church, as his father was a preacher at a Baptist church in my small town, and he picked up my our elderly neighbor to take her to service.
Then, we didn't see him as often. I think it was around the time that I decided I didn't want to attend church anymore. We saw him maybe once or twice a year, or at funerals for various family members. I'm not complaining. He was an adult, and he made his choices. Maybe he grew tired of seeing my mother, maybe he just got busy and didn't have as much time for us anymore. But, I've dealt with it, I went to visit him and his second wife once at Christmas after I got my license, at her invitation, and never went back. Some may say I'm holding a grudge against him, but I would argue that I'm not; I just learned how to get along without him, and didn't feel the need to mend the fence or develop a relationship with him.
And, I may be getting a little off-topic. The point of that little tidbit about me is that if the marriage doesn't work out, and children are conceived, it's much harder than just saying "Nice knowing you." There are now little people who depend upon them for their livelihood. And, while I turned out relatively okay, some children are abused as a result of the failed relationship, or used as leverage or a tool against one of the people in the relationship. And that can just be some of the tame results. A divorce could cause a person to spiral into depression, which could lead to them taking the lives of their children.
All of this isn't to say that young adults should not ever be allowed to marry. Some of these relationships work out. One girl I attended high school with married her boyfriend before she graduated, and even has two daughters now. But the man she married was older and had a stable job, so the financial difficulties they may have experienced would not have been on a level that a couple made up of two young adults may experience. I'm just stating that for people of my age group, we tend to make a lot of rash decisions, and I wonder if all these engagements fall into this category of decisions.