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Why Parents Are Advising Kids to Hold Off on Marriage

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While parents used to be the ones pressuring their kids to get married, today they are encouraging them to hold off for awhile.

New research has found that while young adults believe 25 is the right age to get married, parents feel that age is too soon. The median age for first marriages is 27, according to Census data.

"The assumption has been that the younger generation wants to delay marriage and parents are hassling them about when they would get married," said Brian Willoughby, a professor at Brigham Young University and lead author of the study. "We actually found the opposite, that the parental generation is showing the ‘slow down’ mindset more than the young adults."

Willoughby and his co-authors in BYU’s School of Family Life gathered information for the study from 536 college students and their parents from five college campuses around the country. They found that financial stability is one of the driving forces behind parents' desires to see their kids hold off on marriage until later in life.

"I think it is a really big aspect of the marriage decision," Willoughby told BusinessNewsDaily. "They want their child to be financially stable before they intertwine themselves with someone else, not just romantically, but financially as well."

Of the six different marriage-decision criteria that both parents and college age students considered, moms placed the most importance on being financially secure.

"It was moms that had a higher (financial) bar for marriage than both dads and young adults," Willoughby said. "There is this sense that before they make that adult transition, they need to be financially established."

While there used to be a belief that young adults could marry first and then build up their finances together, that's no longer the case, Willoughby said.

"They want to make sure they are able to financially stand on their own first," he said.

Another factor in parents' restraint is the feeling that their children should get an education before they tie the knot.

“I think parents have a lot of fear for their kids that makes them want to delay the transitions to adulthood,” Willoughby said.

The study, co-authored by BYU professors Jason Carroll, Larry Nelson and Rick Miller, was recently published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.