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Dec 12, 2016
Presented by
Jim Geraghty

What makes a man sexy? What makes a man...a man? Is there something about being the "bad boy"? Or is it more about predictability and reliability? Jim Geraghty of National Review explains.

Is the institution of marriage under siege? Only 46% of children under 18 now live in a traditional family. 

  • The median age for first marriages has risen from 23 to 29 since 1970. Approximately half of today’s adult population is unmarried.View Source
  • Experts suggest that 42-45% of all current first time marriages will end in divorce.View Source
  • Only 46% of children under 18 live in traditional families today.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Marriage—one of the greatest promoters of morality and social stability—is under siege. Half of the adult population is now unmarried. 

  • The median age for first marriages has risen from 23 to 29 since 1970. Approximately half of today’s adult population is unmarried.View Source
  • Experts suggest that 42-45% of all current first time marriages will end in divorce.View Source
  • Only 46% of children under 18 live in traditional families today.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Single men are far more likely to suffer from alcoholism and lack of life satisfaction than married men.

  • A recent study found that 48% of single men between the age of 24 and 29 report that they are frequently drunk, nearly twice that reported by their married counterparts.View Source
  • Only 35% of single men between the age of 24 and 29 report that they are “highly satisfied” with their lives, compared to 52% of their married counterparts.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Young single men are twice as likely to suffer from alcohol abuse than married men their age.

  • A recent study found that 48% of single men between the age of 24 and 29 report that they are frequently drunk, nearly twice that reported by their married counterparts.View Source
  • Only 35% of single men between the age of 24 and 29 report that they are “highly satisfied” with their lives, compared to 52% of their married counterparts.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Does marriage matter? Yes, and not just personally. Studies found that higher numbers of married families result in stronger economies. 

  • Higher percentages of married families are strongly associated with strong economies, including higher levels of economic growth, a 10.5% increase in economic mobility, and a 13.5% decrease in child poverty.View Source
  • Marriage and economic growth is linked most strongly for the young, suggesting that young people are the most positively impacted by being married.View Source
  • States with the largest share of children living with married parents have the lowest child poverty rates—below 16%.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

The states with the most children living with married parents have the lowest child poverty rates—below 16%.

  • States with the largest share of children living with married parents have the lowest child poverty rates—below 16%.View Source
  • Higher percentages of married families are strongly associated with strong economies, including higher levels of economic growth, a 10.5% increase in economic mobility, and a 13.5% decrease in child poverty.View Source
  • Marriage and economic growth is linked most strongly for the young, suggesting that young people are the most positively impacted by being married.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Promoting fatherhood is essential to maintaining a healthy society. 

  • Read National Review’s Jim Geraghty on the importance of promoting strong fatherhood.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Boys without a father at home are more than twice as likely to end up in jail by age 30.

  • Boys without a father at home are 2-3 times more likely to end up in jail by age 30.View Source
  • Girls whose fathers leave before the age of six are 5 times more likely to have a teen pregnancy.View Source
  • Children are 44% more likely to graduate from college if they are raised by two parents.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Girls whose fathers leave before the age of six are 5 times more likely to have a teen pregnancy.

  • Girls whose fathers leave before the age of six are 5 times more likely to have a teen pregnancy.View Source
  • Boys without a father at home are 2-3 times more likely to end up in jail by age 30.View Source
  • Children are 44% more likely to graduate from college if they are raised by two parents.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Children are 44% more likely to graduate from college if they are raised by two parents.

  • Children are 44% more likely to graduate from college if they are raised by two parents.View Source
  • Girls whose fathers leave before the age of six are 5 times more likely to have a teen pregnancy.View Source
  • Boys without a father at home are 2-3 times more likely to end up in jail by age 30.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Research shows that people can break the cycle of divorce in their family.

  • Research shows that people can break the cycle of divorce and become a “transitional character” in their family.View Source
  • Being intentional about creating a positive family environment goes a long way.View Source
  • Related reading: Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice – Jim GeraghtyView Source

Ward Cleaver, the iconic father of the 1950s TV Show, “Leave It to Beaver,” is… a stud. I’m quite serious. And, no, this isn’t about nostalgia for America in the 1950s. This is about a man of his time, yet timeless. But to appreciate him, we first have to get past the noise.

A loud corner of American culture has been rebelling against the image of the 1950s since, oh...the 1950s. Most of that scorn has been directed at the Ozzie-and-Harriet image of American suburban bliss, specifically “dad.” Well, enough already. Can we at least entertain the idea that in the rejection of that stereotypical 1950s suburban dad image, we threw some metaphorical babies out with the bathwater? That if today’s men modeled Ward Cleaver, America and the world would be better places? Sure, compared with current pop icons, he comes across as boring and buttoned-down. But it’s a very incomplete picture.

Of Ward Cleaver we can also say this: He’s a man who takes care of business. He doesn’t make excuses. He doesn’t whine. He doesn’t brood in defeat. He knows that his hard work and persistence will eventually win the day, if not this day. And there’s a lot he’s simply outgrown. He never had any interest in perpetuating his own adolescence. He’s a grown-up who accepts marriage and fatherhood as the life of an adult.

Now, we can quibble about his methods, but we can’t dispute that he loves his wife and kids, that they know he loves them, and that he tries to do what’s best for them—usually pretty successfully. What is not in dispute is that he’s the man of the house, that he wears that title with pride, and everyone, including his wife, likes that fact.

Ward wasn’t alone. There were lots of other iconic dads of that era: Ozzie Nelson of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet;” Jim Anderson from “Father Knows Best;” one could argue George Bailey in the 1946 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” They were grown-ups who had already been through a Great Depression and, in many cases, were veterans of World War II or, later, the Korean War.

Their archetype outlasted the 1950s—Steve Douglas of “My Three Sons,” Mike Brady of “The Brady Bunch,” Howard Cunningham in “Happy Days,” and Cliff Huxtable in “The Cosby Show” (we’re talking TV characters here) shared similar traits. Like all human beings who have ever lived and whoever will live, these men had flaws. But in the end, they were solid and dependable. If you had to summarize them in one word, that word would be “responsible.”

Maybe they seem like such throwbacks now because so much of our culture has thoroughly embraced irresponsibility. But if you ask women what they really want in a man— or at least all those women who have grown out of their adolescent fascination with bad boys – they may not say Ward Cleaver, but they’ll describe most, if not all, of his traits: Reliable; trustworthy; smart; confident, but not smug. Funny and capable of laughing at himself. A man who’s successful at work, but not a workaholic. A man who likes children, but is not a child himself. Perhaps most importantly, devoted to his family. It’s an indisputably masculine figure. And make no mistake, that’s what most women want and what all children need.

Now, I’m not saying that the Ward Cleavers of the world are off-limits to criticism or even mockery; I’m just pointing out that there was a time not that long ago when men were expected to work hard, be good husbands, neighbors and friends; to raise children and to act as role models for the next generation. Sure, laugh at them, but remember they are what our world is built on.

And here is where Ward Cleaver fits in today, where he’s never gone out of style – not really: Getting married, being a father, working your way to owning a home. These are probably the best things that will ever happen to most of us. Our culture snickers at Ward Cleaver types, but it is propagating a falsehood when it paints them as stifled, miserable, hollowed-out men yearning for their carefree bachelor days and regretting their commitments. What leaves a man depressed and hollow inside is not attachments, but the lack of them.

Consider this: If all the slackers in the world disappeared tomorrow, the video game industry would collapse, but if all the Ward Cleavers of the world disappeared tomorrow, civilization would collapse.

I’m Jim Geraghty of The National Review for Prager University.

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