Young Adults Against the World

Recently I have had young adults on my mind. Since I now have a pre-teen in my house, I have been really observant and perceptive of parents around me who are raising young adults. I have also been listening to some teachers who are dealing with these pre-teens and teens on a daily basis. Then, last night I was talking back and forth with my teenaged cousin and my heart about split in two. The complex world they face right now is staggering. So I thought I would take some time this morning to check my own thoughts on how I plan to parent my kids, pray on what God expects for raising them, and also looking at some logical parenting advice from some experts in the field.

My main reason for approaching this topic all comes down to one thing really. ENOUGH. First, That as parents: we are enough, we do enough, and we are capable enough to raise children and teens to become responsible, successful adults. Second, to the youth themselves: you are enough, you are young–enjoy it, stop looking side to side and playing the comparison game, listen to your parents because they are wise. You see, the thing that has really been bothering me is the actions that I see from parents and the young adults. The parents are RUNNING full speed ahead for concerts, honors meetings, curriculum nights, conferences, practices, games and tournaments. The list is endless. Because the parents are running, they seem to be barely hanging on. They seem to be running on EMPTY most of the time. The young adults are acting an awful lot like adults with: jobs, cell phones, laptops, ipads, shiny cars, attitudes and the way they dress and speak to adults. It doesn’t seem like they are young anymore at all. It seems as though their youth is being robbed.

This morning first thing, I opened up my bible to Proverbs 4 to a title that read, “Get Wisdom at Any Cost”. In Proverbs we see, “Many sections of the book offer practical moral advice to help people build character, develop qualities of leadership, foster healthy family life, and keep a good reputation in the community. Above all, Proverbs teaches the importance of wisdom.”

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching….Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths, When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

The thing that actually stand out to me the most in these verses is that the writer is counting on the child listening and HEARING what they are saying. What an interesting concept that our youth would listen to us. I know that even though Sean is not yet 11, I am already struggling with being tuned out. But I wanted to share a real world example that proves these verses to be correct. From Jim Fay in Parenting with Love and Logic:

The gravity of the parenting task hit home some years ago when my son, Charlie, was a teenager. Charlie asked to use the family car to go to a party. “It’s the party of the year,” Charlie said. “Everybody who’s anybody will be there.” I trusted Charlie and would have loaned him the car, but I had a speaking engagement that same evening and couldn’t oblige. Charlie’s mother, Shirley, also had plans of her own for the second car. “Why don’t you hitch a ride with Randy?” I suggested, referring to Charlie’s best friend. Charlie shook his head. “That’s okay. I understand. I guess I won’t go.” Then he went to his room. I knew something was up, This was THE party of the year, so I talked to Charlie and pried loose some more information. Randy, it seemed, had started drinking at parties, and Charlie decided he’d rather stay home than risk the danger of riding with a friend who was likely to drink and drive. The night of that party, Randy, plied with booze, drove himself and five passengers off the side of a mountain at eighty miles per hour. Today, Charlie is now teaching others the same parenting techniques that saved his life. Because he had learned to be a responsible teen, instead of dying that night, he has gone on to help countless others.

The first thing I want to point out, is that Charlie didn’t have HIS OWN CAR. I know that may sound odd, but I do not think it is unreasonable for children to have to ask permission to use a “family car” if they want to go out of the home. It created boundaries, yet still offered the opportunity to get out in the world and make choices. As someone who didn’t have their own car until I started college, I appreciate my parents stricter approach that taught me that I was not old enough or responsible enough yet to own my own car. Second, can I just say how shocking it would be for teen’s today to choose NOT to go to a party in these same circumstances?! I we need to ask ourselves if our children are on the learning path to make these sorts of decisions, make them WISELY on their own? If they are, then we are on the right track, if not we might need to adjust the parenting path we are on.

Here are some bullet points from Parenting with Love and Logic that are important for all parents with children at any age:

  • Children need thoughtful guidance and firm, enforceable limits. Then we must maintain those limits to help children understand that they are responsible for their actions and will suffer reasonable consequences for actions that are inappropriate.
  • Instead of telling children what to do, put the burden of decision making on your kids shoulders. This establishes options within limits.
  • Nothing in parenting is sure. However, we increase the odds of raising responsible kids when we take thoughtful risks. We do that when we allow our children–get this–TO FAIL. In fact, unless we allow them to fail, sometimes grandiosely, we cannot allow our children to choose success.
  • This is painful, but we can hurt a little as we watch them learn life’s lessons now, or we can hurt a lot as we watch them grow up to be individuals unable to care for themselves.
  • If we never let our kids struggle to get something they want or work through a problem for themselves, then when things get difficult later in life, they won’t suddenly turn tough and get going; instead, they’ll just quit.

One of the most shocking things I have learned of lately is that there are young adults who don’t respect teachers, administration or coaches for sports. I thought this verse in Matthew 10 was fitting: “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.” You see, we HAVE to instill in our youth that they HAVE to respect their teachers. If they can’t respect their teacher in 5th and 6th grade, how will they ever get a job?

A few years back, I got my first taste of this. When I worked in banking, we had a new teller who was just out of high school. He appeared to have good work ethic and ability to follow work standards, but as time went on I started to see more and more how much this young man lacked respect for ANYONE other than himself. One evening before we were about to close the lobby, he cursed while a customer was present. When I reminded him of this, he turned, looked at the customer and said, “That old F****r? I will give him a warm glass of shut the H*** up!” That was the night I knew that his career in banking was over. Possibly any career ever. There is a generation of young adults out there who feel entitled. They do not think they need to earn anyone’s respect.

You all, we created this. US. Parents, grandparents, guardians of the youth. We combine the stressed out pressure of them stacking up to get into any Ivy League school, with a resume that matches that of a 30 year old, combined with their lack of guidance and wisdom as they were brought up and the result we have gotten is a generation who is on more medication than any other before them. But not only are they medicated, they have no idea how to live and survive in the real world and they do not have respect for anyone. This may sound harsh and I am not speaking of ALL. I am speaking of the majority. Some are responsible, but they are too stressed out to know any different. Some aren’t medicated but they have never made a decision on their own, without their parents and are set up for ugly adult failures.

We can do better. We have done better in the past, and I know we can do better in the future. Our youth does NOT want this. They don’t want to build a life on the sand. They want to learn how to build the foundation for life on a rock. It is our responsibility to show them how.

Titus 2: 7-8 “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

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