Problems facing today’s children

On Nov. 22, the Billy Graham column talked about the problems of today’s children. A youth pastor had asked the question, “Should I tackle sexual topics first or drug abuse?” The answer in the column was that many sociologists claim the greatest problem facing the youth of today is boredom. I have heard from my own children and grandchildren that they are bored.

Boredom is a concept that I truly do not comprehend. My kids claim to be bored but then continue to do the very things that bore them, and they have options. I think this is caused by peer pressure.

There is an infinite variety of activities. I have sometimes thought that I could live from the beginning of time to the end of time and never be bored for a second. There is so much to see and do and learn that it would take a thousand lifetimes just to scratch the surface.

There was one section of the response that particularly grabbed my interest. “When kids finish college (I interpreted this to mean their formal education), many flounder, overwhelmed by choices and confined by their fears. Naturally they turn to gadgets and amusements, with a tremendous emphasis on sex and complicated by too much leisure time.”

I can understand today’s young people being overwhelmed by choices and confined by fear. Children today are not taught in school or at home the useful skills necessary to succeed in life. They are not properly counseled on occupations and on the required skills and qualifications, so it’s no wonder they have fears when they are thrown into the world. Politicians and educators talk about improving education, but throwing more money at education is not the answer. We have been doing that for decades, and nothing changes.

Young people have too much leisure time for two reasons. Federal law prohibits them from working the way children did in the 1950s. The Fair Labor Standards Act made it almost impossible for kids to work. So how are they supposed to learn? In order to develop, kids must be given responsibility at a level where they can succeed. As they progress, this level is increased. Fear is then replaced by confidence; confidence is obtained by achievement. And productive work kept us out of trouble.

Before the advent of all the modern electronic gadgets, people actually had to do something or go somewhere and got the full benefit of the activity. Now they just spend their lives punching buttons. The virtual world is taking over the real world. Having vast information resources immediately available is beneficial when used as a tool, but when it takes over a person’s life, it becomes detrimental. It seems that many people now must be entertained; their minds have become stagnant. When I was a kid, we knew how to entertain ourselves, and that knowledge remains today.

I have no idea how to reverse the trend. I have given my best efforts to educate my children and grandchildren, with only limited success. Some have made it, others have not. So where are we headed?



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