One consequence of all the hand-wringing over today's young men: guys who don't fit the stereotype of beer-swilling perpetual adolescent suddenly get put on a pedestal, even if they suck in other ways. Exhibit A: the advice columnist who deems a 19-year-old jerk great boyfriend material.
Our 19-year-old daughter is dating a 19-year-old boy, who, in general, we like. He's not a partier; he doesn't smoke or drink; he's serious about his education; and he has a rational career plan mapped out. Our daughter is also a responsible, level-headed girl. The problem is that the boyfriend's response to almost anything my daughter says is a cut or put-down, a dismissal of her accomplishment or mocking. She says his father does the same thing to him, his brother and their mother; so to him it's "normal." Our daughter is an upbeat confident person by nature, but I know a constant stream of negativity will eventually wear down even the most self-assured person.
Rosemond's response: the daughter is lucky to find such a catch! He name-checks Kay Hymowitz and her recent guys-are-losers piece in the Wall Street Journal, then writes,
Your daughter's boyfriend is an exception to the rule, obviously. He's not into partying, playing video and online games, proving that he can drink more beer than his friends and still remain conscious, and dressing in oversized, ill-fitting clothes that make him look like a six-foot toddler. From your description, he's a find! Do everything you can to keep him!
According to Rosemond, the boy's habit of putting his girlfriend down at every opportunity is probably just a symptom of his youth and "the influence of the 'family' sit-coms his generation has consumed, in which the constant stream of put-downs is supposed to be funny." And the girl's unlikely to do better, so she should definitely be encouraged to stick with the guy who insults her — maybe "helping him learn the value of letting go of this annoying habit" will help her mature!
Rosemond's clearly a bit out of touch if he thinks 19-year-olds today are watching a lot of "family sitcoms" (he also satirizes their aspirations as, "I plan on winning ‘American Idol' and then replacing Jon Bon Jovi as lead singer of Bon Jovi"). But his words do illustrate what happens when an declared the young men of America lost cause. The young women of America get told that they should put up with guys treating them badly, because at least said guys aren't as bad as the douchebags that somebody read about in the Wall Street Journal. Of course, many of these douchebags are hypothetical, or are quoted anonymously, or are Seth Rogen's character from a movie, but they're apparently convincing enough to creep into the mind of advice columnist and create a pretty toxic message for women: ladies, you must be with a man, and all men are awful, so you'd better get comfortable dealing with someone awful.
Of course, 19-year-olds aren't known for listening to their parents, and it's possible that the daughter's going to stick with this jerk no matter what they say. But here's what I'd tell them: let your daughter know that you're concerned about her boyfriend's behavior (constant put-downs can be a form of abuse, and if she's being abused, there are resources that can help her). Tell her that not all men are jerks, and she deserves a partner who will treat her with respect. Value her, her happiness, and her individuality enough that you would never try to "keep" her with someone who insults her. And in all things, counsel her with love, not trend pieces.
Rosemond: Tell Daughter To Hold Onto Boyfriend [Gaston Gazette]