Maybe it’s the spring weather (finally) but Bette Midler’s version of this song has been echoing as we read the latest Pew survey on young adults. As noted in our AARP blog post last week, marriage is not high on millennials’ punch list of life achievements. And when they do get married, the officiant is more likely to be a friend who is “ordained” for the day rather than a rabbi, priest, minister or any other cleric. That same Pew report found that almost 30 percent of millennials are not affiliated with any religion, the highest levels of religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation by Pew.
Parents can be hurt and disappointed when an engaged couple announces that the wedding will be decidedly secular, not connected with the religion in which they were raised. “We believe in freedom of religion in America until it comes to our children,” says author Dr. Ruth Nemzoff with a laugh.
Some parents feel a rejection of their values but will hold back saying anything; others will go so far as refusing to pay for the wedding unless it’s done on their terms. Dr. Ruth advises parents to avoid starting a war, which could last years, long after the wedding is over. “Try what might be termed negotiations; perhaps a religious reading or a blessing might be a middle ground for both parents and children,” she says. She also suggests keeping in mind that as much as we want to pass along our heritage, the wedding is a beginning, not an end, and there’ll be other opportunities in the coming years.