Do you know Susan Patton? No? Well, she’s the Princeton Mom who set the blogosphere (and possibly the earth) on fire with her thoughts on marriage, education, and sexual assault, among other things.
It’s Patton’s advice about how young women should spend their college years that pinned my ears back. In her new book, Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the One, Patton writes, When your daughter enters college, she will never again be as young, as beautiful, as attractive to men, or as fertile. Encourage her to make the best use of this time.
I will certainly encourage my daughter to make the best of her college years. I even agree with Patton that women who want to have biological children are on an unforgiving timeline.
But I can’t subscribe to Patton’s 75-25 method to life: Until you find a spouse, spend 75% of your energy on finding a partner, and 25% on professional development. Keep in mind that this advice is only for college-aged women since the fellow’s aren’t under the tick of a biological clock.
Ivy League or Not, College Men Arent All Fully Cooked
Patton, a Princeton alum, has two sons who also attended Princeton once her nickname. Ivy League or not, I don’t buy that college is teeming with desirable, marriage-worthy men.
First of all, some colleges are nearly impossible to get into while others seem to accept anyone with an application, transcript, and a pulse. Just because that classmate made it through the admissions process and onto campus doesn’t mean we should break out the bubbly.
The transition from high school to college does not turn a boy into a man.
They may be single, they may be age appropriate, but a good chunk of the men on campus still have baby formula on their breath. In fact, continuing research on brain development indicates that people are not fully mature until 25. We’re also better equipped to make major life decisions in our late 20s.
I’m not saying that all college guys are bad news. I’m not even saying that you have to wait until your late 20s to find a spouse. But why would I train my daughter to set her sights on her classmates like she’s some beast in heat?
Baby Girl, do you know what you’re looking for?
Conventional wisdom says that girls mature faster than boys. Even with science to back up this theory, I won’t assume that my daughter will be able to spot a keeper the moment she steps on a college campus. Suppose her classmate has all of Forbes 10 Traits Women Want in a Husband:
- Financial Potential
- Good Health
- Pleasing Disposition
- Family Oriented
None of these qualities matter if my daughter doesn’t know what she wants in a mate. If, as Patton suggests, she looks for a husband her freshman year of college, when would she have had time to thoughtfully consider what she wants in a spouse? In high school?
Just another message that a girl’s appearance is what counts
Im reminded of a novelist who considered herself dreadfully unphotogenic. Even as a young girl she ran at the sight of a camera. One day the 50-year-old novelist saw a picture of herself taken in her 20s and remarked, Wow, I was one hot dish.
There is no denying it. A woman in her 20s is something to behold. But this notion that young women have to wield their youthful beauty at potential mates like a mallet is suspect.
Patton tells parents to encourage their daughters to make the best use of their time in college since they will never again be as young, as beautiful, as attractive to men, or as fertile.
As if women and girls are not already earlobes deep in messages that tell them that appearance is what matters most. Now parents are being called upon to instruct their daughters to use most of their energy angling for a spouse before all that pretty dries up.
Patton and I agree except for when we don’t
As outlandish as some of Patton’s ideas sound, the premise of her book seems to be that women should use their college years to work on both personal happiness and professional goals. I’m on board with that. Young women who desire marriage and children, and a career, are perfectly capable of simultaneously working towards those goals.
But I can’t subscribe to Patton’s lopsided ratio or the fact that personal happiness seems to be a euphemism for snag a husband, have some babies.