Consubstantial, on Feb 18 2004, 03:21 PM, said:
Consubstantial, on Feb 18 2004, 11:30 AM, said:
Why not ask why such a negative reaction to the idea of 14 year olds marrying? After all, for the majority of human history folks 14 and younger married and raised families. Treating teenagers like children is a fairly recent development. And one that I am not sure has benefitted our society.
Yes, people used to marry very young. Indeed, it was not all that long ago. Our minimum marriage ages are proof of that. In most, if not all states, you can still be married as a minor, with your parent's consent. In some states, that age is rather young even now.
However, this is not the 15th or even the early 20th Century, and just because kids had what you'd consider to be more rights back then, did not mean that they were any better off. Most kids who married that young did so with the express consent, and very frequently, at the express prompting of their parents. Arranged marriage was quite common, and frequently, even if younger teens did have a say in their mates, they certainly did not have the experience to make really good decisions. If you married early, you had the children and tried to deal with the personality issues as best you could.
Today, there is relatively simple divorce, not to mention a vastly more complex lifestyle in general. We also assume that individuals should be given a reasonable ability to make their decisions before they are forced on them. You simply aren't going to be doing the best thing for yourself if you get married younger. Ensuring that marriage waits until later prevents you from making a mistake, and your parents from using their influence to push you into your own mistake.
Another example of this is child labor laws. Teens can and will work long hours to help support their families or to make money for themselves. This is bad enough when it comes at the expense of schoolwork, but when these same teens are faced with horrible working conditions, but haven't developed the social skills to protest effectively or even the experience to know whether or not to protest at all, it's downright criminal. And we *know* what happens in that case because there were very, very good examples of what could go wrong with the widespread sweatshop labor that existed at the time.
Indeed, we shouldn't even consider decreasing the ages for civil marriage. If anything, we should be increasing them, along with other rights. Heck, if we didn't draft 18 year olds, I'd very much want the voting age to be pushed back up to 21 and beyond as well.
In the late 19th Century, a 15,16,17 year old teen was actually quite adult, compared to what exists at that age today, but then, the duties back then were simpler and the environment much less forgiving. You made the right decisions or the results could be immediate and brutal. Today, you can slowly fall into a black hole without even realizing it, if you don't have the experience to deal with it or see it coming. We need minors to remain minors long enogh to get that experience.