Recently we (us and our extended family and friends) have been having this debate. Who is more “mature” a married 20 year-old girl who has had a baby or a single 24 year old girl? Originally, I was tempted to argue that the girl who is a mother was inherently more mature just by the fact that she has to take care of a baby. However, after some consideration and people watching I am now unsure. Can maturity really be defined by one single event or is it mealy a façade or societal opinion?
TAW: Frum society presumes that (very) young mothers have acquired a certain amount of maturity and so we treat them as if they have. Our society values certain traits over other ones. We value caring for children and running a household more than we value obtaining an education and running a business. Some individuals SIBAW and I know argued that even the most “immature” nineteen year old young mother knows more about managing a home than a thirty year old single woman. This, in her mind equates to life experience and world knowledge. These individuals believe that life does not really begin until you’ve had your first child. They point to the fact that older singles never live “beyond themselves” that their lives might be hard, but it’s a personal hardship. They’re never forced to be selfless.
The Torah encourages us to marry and says it isn’t good for man to be alone, implying that the true path to growth is through marriage and children. Many in our society use this knowledge to support the argument that there is no other way to achieve growth and maturity. For many of them, they aged as these stages came upon them, so what may simply be the maturity of aging they attribute solely to having children. This belief that only marriage+children=maturity may be the source of people’s patronizing attitude towards singles and those who cannot conceive. Is marriage and children the only way to achieve true growth and maturity?