Where the Boys Are: The Unacknowledged Worlds of Nonmarital Fathers

MGM’s film Where the Boys Are may have invited judgment on the morals of the young coeds who journeyed south over spring break for fun, fancy and romance, but their antics were fun to watch and seemed to end okay. That was my take as a teenager, despite my parents’ dismay. Many of the stars, much like the mothers we’ve followed on the current Teen Mom franchise, launched careers and gained a vast audience, yet none of their stories convinced me that loose sexuality or single parenthood was a choice I wanted to make.

Mitch Pearlstein singing Where The Boys Are evoked happiness. We both snickered. Yet later, as I dissected the lyrics, a certain melancholy overcame me as I realized that these young coeds, so willing to travel to where the boys were in the 1960s, longed for more than just the presence of the boys; they longed for love. They envisioned “smiling faces, warm embraces and arms to hold them tightly.” They trusted that somewhere “in a million people, they’d find their valentine,” and until that time, those coeds were willing to do something today’s teens and young adults seem unwilling to do: wait, even if impatiently.

What I learned from my fact-finding mission about single fathers is that this new, loose and legally laced pattern of family formation outside marriage that symbolizes where our boys are today doesn’t necessarily provide the sought-after love, either, and maybe none of them will find it until they are willing to wait patiently and intelligently apply time-tested rules of family formation: One meets, dates, falls in love, marries and then has a baby.

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