July 22, 2017
I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.
The following is Part I of a post focused on the challenges of raising “desensitized” kids. I will share Part II tomorrow.
Being a parent is tough, and getting tougher every day. That’s because being a kid these days is tougher than ever. We like to pretend in front of the kids that we had it much tougher back in our day, but we know that’s not really true. We grew up in a much simpler time. The things we worried about back then pale in comparison to what our children face today. This means that as parents we need to be more vigilant, more “on our game” than ever. It means we cannot back down, even for a minute, from our responsibility to protect our children – from the forces at work in the modern world and from themselves.
I will focus my attention on three of the issues facing our young people everyday. The gravity of each is enhanced by the fact that our kids view the issues as “no big deal.” This certainly makes it more difficult for us to protect them!
1. The pressure to engage in sex. Sex is everywhere. What we talked about or thought about or looked at as teenagers, your children are exposed to in 3rd or 4th grade. Media is saturated with sexual imagery. The Internet makes any and all sexual content readily available, and no perversion is off-limits. Even the mainstream network sitcoms throw constant sexual references at us. For instance, one study I came across showed that Two and a Half Men, a 30-minute sitcom, had an average of 25.6 sexual references per episode. Virginity has become a punch line. With sex and sexual images everywhere, why would a young person not feel like it is just another thing people do, like going for a bike ride or brushing their teeth? What’s the big deal?
2. The pressure to drink alcohol or take illicit drugs. Again, alcohol and drugs are everywhere, as are the media references to them. It is assumed and accepted by many that kids will drink in high school – “That’s what high schoolers do.”
The number one response when students are asked why they drink is, “I like the way it makes me feel.” This excuse for drinking saddens me, especially coming from a young person. Drinking alcohol or using drugs puts one in an altered state of consciousness. What is it about a child’s life that would make him wish to enter a false reality or to be someone else?
Teenagers have no clue as to the adverse physiological effects alcohol and drugs can have on them. Inhibitions go out the window, and suddenly unnecessary risks become commonplace: pre-marital sex (more than likely unprotected), driving under the influence, jumping into pools from balconies, and the list of poor choices goes on and on.
3. Technology overload. This one is tricky, because we also take on the adult world if we start bad-mouthing technology. We do love our gadgets. I guess I start by saying technology, when used responsibly, is a wonderful thing. But like anything else, there can be too much of a good thing. I will skip over detrimental things such as the fact that young people struggle with spelling, have difficulty using a writing instrument, have attention spans that continue to get shorter and shorter, etc.
I will focus more on the adverse relational effects of technology overload. Face-to-face conversations are a lost art. Some would say, “Who cares?” As long as we can get a message to another person, what difference does it make? Face-to-face conversations allow us to show genuine emotion – concern, compassion, and joy. We don’t need to rely on using multiple exclamation points or a smiley face to get our point across. Face-to-face conversations help us keep things in check. It is easy to punch out an angry, hurtful, vindictive e-mail. After all, we just hit ‘send’ and we never have to worry about the faceless person to whom we sent it. Face-to-face conversations make us vulnerable, and more human.
There is also a “disposability” that comes along with technology saturation. We are forever searching for the next greatest device – newer and faster with more uses. Anything that does not meet this arbitrary standard of greatness becomes disposable. What does this do to a young person’s view of commitment? Of contentment? Of simplicity? What else will become disposable to them?
These are just three of the challenges facing our young people. Unfortunately, there are many more. Each can keep them from being the people God intended them to be.
I wish I had all of the solutions, but I do not. I will, however, offer a few suggestions for counteracting these challenges…in Part II.