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Boys Who Will Never Grow Up – Part II






August 16, 2017

Now let me turn to a recent Pittsburgh Post Gazette editorial titled “The Video Game Trap.” Here is what their editors concluded:

A group of economists released a paper recently suggesting young men are working fewer hours because they are spending so much time playing video games. Video games might also help explain a study last month from Johns Hopkins University researchers who said today’s 19-year-old is as sedentary as a 60-year-old.Inactive lifestyles, obesity and the opioid epidemic have combined to end a streak of life expectancy increases. In 2015, the number dropped for the first time in two decades—from 78.9 to 78.8.

The economists found that American men 21 to 30 were working 203 fewer hours a year than the same age group did in 2000. Part of that difference is because gaming and social isolation prevent some men from even entering the workforce.

Inactive lifestyles and poor diets are directly linked to increasing obesity rates, which correlate with the decline in life expectancy.

Choosing social isolation or gaming over a fulfilling job or friendship deprives a person of support systems that could help when dealing with an addiction. And decreased productivity and unemployment prevent the economy from reaching peak efficiency, thereby hurting others who are fully engaged in the workforce. Americans need to get back to moving their bodies.” (The Denver Post, July 23, 2017).

Keep in mind that girls are also at risk for wasting their young lives in downhill slides into substance abuse and inner deterioration. Because girls are wired differently, at colleges across the nation, there are 50% more coeds attending than males today—which leaves coeds with fewer and fewer educated males to choose from as they search for husbands.

If we look around us and take a clear-eyed analysis of what we see, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that a very large portion of parents are flunking parenthood by abdicating the traditional roles of motherhood and fatherhood. Instead, they are like adolescents themselves. They do virtually nothing to instill work ethics in their children, they encourage even their teen and adult children to lay around the house all day, play video games most of the night, and sleep until noon or later of the next day. The parents reason, Why make them work when they don’t have to? Sooner or later they’ll have to work—they can deal with it then.

The obvious result is that we thereby accelerate the decline of our families and our nation. Such parental abdication of the God-given responsibility to raise God-fearing, ethical, caring, honest, diligent, industrious children all can be proud of, is literally a national catastrophe in the making.

Such parents fail to take into consideration that throughout time there has been chronicled a natural progression of growth: half of what we learn in life we learn by six. Our work habits are already being formed by our tween years. Our attitudes toward character development, intellectual goal-setting, social interaction, responsibility, preparation for marriage and parenting, career goals and preparation for work careers, respect and appreciation for one’s country and its values, concepts of selfless service for others, avoidance of all forms of substance abuse, solid work ethic, and a deep desire to follow God’s will in all they do and say and are.

None of which are likely to take place if a parent abdicates tough love and a willingness to postpone popularity and appreciation in their children until those children grow up, look back, and then say,

“Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Mom

for seeing me, seeing us, through.”

* * * * *

We shall conclude this series next week.

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Boys Who Will Never Grow Up





August 9, 2017

Lead Illustration for Ben Sasse’s article, “Perpetual Adolescence.”

All around us we see boys mired in adolescence who are increasingly unlikely to ever grow up. In order to keep current as a historian of ideas, I read from a wide variety of books, magazines, and newspapers. But none of them provide the level of wisdom I find in the “Review” section of the Wall Street Journal weekend edition. Several months ago, the lead article was titled “Perpetual Adolescence: And What to Do About it” (May 6-7, 2017). It was taken from Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse’s new book, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance.

Senator Sasse (a former college president), in his book, notes that “What’s new today is the drift toward perpetual adolescence. What’s new today is seeing so much less difference now between 10-year olds and young adults in their late teens and early 20s.

“As many parents can attest, independent adulthood is no longer the norm for their generation. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that we crossed a historic threshold last year: ‘For the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 years were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household.’ Fully one-quarter of Americans between 25 and 29 live with a parent—compared with only 18% just over a decade ago.”

As for reasons, Sasse references the economy, our incredible wealth and the creature comforts we are so used to, parental reluctance to expose their children to real work, and the [in his words] “hostage-taking hold that computers and mobile devices have on adolescent attention.”

Sesse concludes that “Our nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crisis. Too many of our children simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one. Perhaps more problematic, older generations have forgotten that we need to teach them. It’s our fault more than it’s theirs.”

Truer words were never spoken. All around us I see confirmation of Sasse’s conclusions. Both nationally and in our Colorado communities, I see businesses closing because they can’t get able-bodied teens and young adults to accept work opportunities. Just two weeks ago, there was a story on evening TV news about the many Louisiana fishermen who are losing an entire fishing season because they can’t get enough people to work on their boats.

This situation so reminds me of Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), and his monumental work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published during 1776-1788). In it, Gibbon famously postulated that Rome (one of the greatest nations in all history) began declining at the point when prolonged affluence and power resulted in its citizens paying foreigners, slaves, and down-and-outers to fight their wars for them, when faith in a Higher Power began to erode, when families began to collapse, when hedonistic pleasure replaced the work ethic, etc. By extension, if we wish to apply these reasons for Rome’s decline to America, it would be hard to deny that the generations that fought World War I, were savaged by the pandemic dubbed “The Spanish Flu” (killed, according to Time, 50 million to 100 million people at the end of World War I), and fought World War II, were indeed America’s “Greatest Generations.” And tragically, unless there are major course corrections in the very near future, according to Gibbon’s formulae, America’s greatest days are behind us.

Sobering indeed!

We will continue next week.