Many local men and women in Dickinson will never date, marry, or have children. I have lived in Dickinson for about four years now, and I want to explain what I have seen and describe the people that I have met. This aspect of Dickinson is culturally different than where I am from mostly, but not entirely. I have seen this happen where I am from too, but this is much more common in Dickinson.
I have met many men and women in Dickinson who do not date, will not marry, and will not have children. Their backgrounds are similar. They have a normal mother and father, who have normal jobs, and they grow up in a normal household. When these children are born, their mother and father love them and take care of them. When they enter school, these children are kind of in the middle of their class as far as size, appearance, physical ability, and mental ability.
These kids fit in O.K. all through elementary school. However, once these kids are in high school, they fall behind without anybody really noticing. One of the reasons why nobody really notices that they are falling behind their peers is because these kids seem content mostly. Their parents love them and provide for them, they aren’t unhappy. Another reason why no one notices that these kids are falling behind their peers is because these kids don’t cause any problems.
No one is paying much attention to these kids because they are not gifted academically, athletically, artistically, socially, or appearance wise. Their parents are satisfied with their “B” and “C” grades, and don’t pressure them to do better. Their parents see no reason to pressure their kids to do better, or more, and don’t want to make their kids uncomfortable. Their child has never expressed an interest in playing football, basketball, or baseball, and this is O.K. with them, they didn’t want them to get hurt anyway. The parents didn’t try to push or steer their kid in any direction, not in academics, not in sports, not in music, not in art, not in drama, not in anything. The parents thought that their kid was fine just as they were, no need to pressure them to do anything or be anything, or guide them in any direction. Their kid was a good kid who never got into any trouble. But their kid was not participating in anything, not trying anything, not competing, and perhaps not socializing.
Kids that are shy, awkward, not physically attractive, small, or overweight, they might not want to participate in sports, student government, drama, or band. They may need some encouragement or coaxing to get involved. But because their parents love them, don’t want to see their kid struggle, face disappointment, failure, and rejection, the parents just leave them be.
By the time these kids graduate from high school, that’s all they did, just graduate. They didn’t participate in anything. They probably didn’t date anyone or go to prom. They didn’t find out what they were good at and what they were bad at. They didn’t find out what they wanted to do, and what they didn’t want to do. They don’t have any goals, aspiration, or ambition. Without it being said out loud, the parents think that their kid is not good at anything, and the kid thinks that he is not good at anything.
(Everything that I have just described, I have seen before with parents and their children, and not just in Dickinson. The parents were not bad parents, they loved their kid. But because they did not want their kid to get hurt, become stressed, or uncomfortable, they spared their kid from the things that would have made their kid mature and grow up. Especially if their kid was shy and awkward to begin with, their kid has not competed enough, failed enough, and participated enough to have the experience and confidence to go out on their own. Now their young adult child will probably have to continue to live with their parents, but the parents headed things in this direction all along the way.)
With both the parents and the kid believing that the kid is not good at anything, this young person carries themself with very little confidence. This young person gets the lowest pay entry level job that there is, if they are able to get a job at all. This young person is not stupid, may be nice and polite, but they don’t assert themselves, have confidence, or take chances, so they just settle for the lowest pay job there is. They may have so little confidence in themselves, both them and their parents, that they don’t even seek a job. Their parents love them and don’t want to see them get hurt, don’t want to see them get turned down for a job, or lose a job, so they don’t even make them get a job sometimes.
These young people in Dickinson that continued to live with their mother and father, they became so accustomed to this sometimes that they lived the remainder of their lives this way. I have met men and women in Dickinson in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s that continued to live in their mother and father’s home. There are many many employers in Dickinson that have reliable competent employees that they don’t pay a living wage to because they don’t have to, because these employees live with their mom and dad. I have met many workers in Dickinson like this. I would say that about 15% of the local work force in Dickinson reside with their mother and father.
When these young adults live with their mother and father, I don’t think that their parents try to suggest or talk them into dating anyone. They just leave their kid alone, their kid seems content enough. The parents may be fearful that their son would get some girl pregnant, would be unable to support her, and that all three of them would just end up right back in their house, so it is better to have just the son. The parents may have similar thoughts about a daughter, that she would be taken advantage of, become pregnant, and the two or three or four of them would be right back in their house, so it is better to just have the daughter.
In some cultures in different parts of the world, this is how things are done anyway. The adult sons and daughters remain living in the mother and father’s home until a suitable marriage can be entered into, one that the parents agree with. And if there is no suitable marriage that can be found, the son or daughter stays, until they are very old. This may be working in Dickinson because I do not see very many local women being unwed mothers, and I don’t think that there are any North Dakotans on the Jerry Springer Show.