Yesterday I had lunch with a young woman who works in campus ministry. She said several things that got me thinking. She has had eight years experience working with college-age young adults and now she trains young adults, about 22-23 years old, getting them ready to do this campus ministry as well.
She related to me that she really dislikes going on trips with the kids she works with. The reason in short: she doesn't have the patience to put up with the girls who seem to leave their brains at home. The guys go ahead and do stuff, making mistakes, and have to come back and repair the damage plus apologize. But the girls seem to be stuck in indecision mode. As she said, one girl couldn't even decide what colour of socks to wear, and another asked if there was any ice without even looking in the freezer to find it for herself.
What seems to be going on here is a complete lack of growing up. No wonder I don't find young adults showing up for the 40 Days vigil. If they can't pick what pair of socks to wear, how can they possibly decide to show up in public to oppose abortion?
What does this mean for their futures? and for our society's future? The prospect is frightening. How did we get here? My first thought is that we have spoiled our kids with so much stuff and with making so many decisions for them, that they can't do this stuff by themselves. So how long will it take for them to grow up?
Given the way our previous neighbour, a young man of about 30 years old, spent his Friday evenings playing video games with his male friends, and the fact that we never saw him spending any time with women of the same age, I think perhaps these guys are never going to grow up.
Have we created a generation of permanent children? If so, we have done them no favours. Parents, it's up to you. You can keep on giving your kids everything and making all their decisions for them, or you can help them to grow up.
One example: paying for your kids' education. Many parents think they should be footing the bill for university tuition. I even know one man who just re-mortgaged his house to pay for his son's college. This man is due to retire in two years time, how is he going to pay off that mortgage which is now at $200,000 for a house that would only sell for about $50,000 more than the sum he owes?
Why can't that kid work? My own kids had to pay their way through school. Our oldest daughter took a year off school and worked as a nanny so that she could pay for her education. She also won a scholarship. And you know what, she got a PhD in mathematics. Second daughter claimed that she wasn't going to go to university unless someone else paid for it. So she worked like stink in her final year and won a renewable scholarship so that her tuition and books for four years were all paid for. Daughter #3 also won that scholarship, but she decided that university was not for her and, after several years of looking around at her options including a professional music career, she became a Franciscan nun.
My husband and I could never afford to pay for their post-secondary education. And I am glad that we couldn't. Our inability to pay made our girls all figure out what they should do. They knew that getting an education was something they valued and they all knew that the kind of jobs they could get without an education were not the best option. So they knuckled down, studied hard, worked at part-time and summer jobs hard, and got where they did. And they deserve all the credit for that.
But you know, your kids will have strength and character if you provide the atmosphere in which those attributes can grow. Spoil them, give them everything, open all the doors for them, and you will wind up with kids who can't appreciate what you gave them. Work, in many senses, is its own reward.