Is It Bad To Bribe My Children Into Getting Married Young?

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The other night I heard my four-year-old say to her father that someday she will probably get married and she’d like him attend her wedding. He laughed and responded that he wouldn’t miss it and, in fact, would probably be paying for it.

No, no, no! Why would he tell her he’d pay for her wedding?

Part of this, sure, relates to my complete loathing of the wedding industrial complex and the big frou-frou weddings we seem to trade for meaningful preparation for the rigors and wonders of marriage. But another part is that my academic career in economics means I never give up an opportunity for a good incentive structure.

My husband and I got married later — in our 30s. And while we had kids right away, if they wait as long as we did to get married and have kids, chances are we’ll never meet any grandchildren. And everyone knows that the whole point of having kids is to someday have grandchildren, right? Or so my parents and in-laws tell me.

In any case, if we want to meet these grandchildren, we need to see some amazing advances in science … or to build up a good incentive structure so our children have their children quicker than we did.

I proposed to my husband that we offer to pay for any wedding to a suitable mate that takes place in college or shortly thereafter. Then we downgrade that offer until they reach the age of 30, at which point we move to Canada and sue them for parental support.

I ran the plan by my friend and he pointed out a couple of problems. For one, he wondered whether we should encourage our children to get married before they’re ready. And then he mumbled something about how he knew both my husband and me in our 20s and there was “no way on God’s green earth that either of you should have gone anywhere near marriage” or something like that. I couldn’t quite make it out.

My husband, for his part, just looked at me with either deep appreciation and love or a feeling that maybe marrying an economist wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had. Possibly both.