Advice From a Conservative Ivy League Prof to Graduating Seniors
Toward the end of each academic year, the senior class of Princeton University hosts “Last Lectures” in which members of the faculty are invited to give advice to the graduating seniors as they prepare to move on to graduate programs or into their professional careers. I have frequently given these, and today I had the pleasure of giving one jointly with my colleague and friend Amaney Jamal. Although the theme was “active citizenship,” and I offered some thoughts and advice a…bout that, I also took the opportunity to urge them not to wait too long to get married and have children. This is advice young people–especially young overachievers–rarely hear. Yet it it the most important advice. I realize that not everyone is called to the vocation of marriage, but most are. And we have become a culture that fails to teach our young people about the dignity and importance of marriage and the joy and blessing of children. It is almost as if people are afraid to say anything about it, leaving young people with the impression that what matters most are professional success, money, prestige, social standing, etc. Of course it is possible for people to make the error of marrying while still too young. And I don’t want to encourage that. But what seems more common these days is people delaying marriage until their late thirties or even forties and then not having children, or trying to deal with infertility issues. Anyway, family success is far more important, and more central to human flourishing and happiness, than career success, wealth, social standing, and the like. And grown ups shouldn’t be afraid to say so when speaking with young people.
Robert George is Chairman at United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, McCormick Professor of Juriprudence at Princeton University, Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and author of Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism.