As a university professor, I teach a variety of students, both traditional-age students and older, non-traditional students. I have been blessed with some excellent students who excel. Others may not be the brightest stars in academia, but they give their all even if they make a C in the course. I respect that. There are students who are both academically lazy and lack the ability to be in college. These students do not stick around for long. But then there are students who have the intelligence and ability to excel or at least do well, but do not out of apathy–unfortunately that is what I see the most out of the current generation of 18-22 year-olds.
Sometimes this generation has been called the generation of “trophy kids.” Parents who lack the maturity to find meaning in their own lives attempt to live their lives through their children. Children are pushed into organized sports early on instead of being encouraged in spontaneous play. If they have problems in school, they are diagnosed with ADHD or some other disorder and given their drugs for the day to pacify them. Today’s children are protected from the normal hurts and pains of the real world. Many live in gated communities shut off from the outside world. Parents try to hide from them the facts of disease and death, and they do not teach their children the necessity of working for what they earn. Instead, everything they desire is given to them. When they face tragedy, such as a death of a family member or close friend, or when they face a breakup with a romantic partner, they tend to fall apart. I remember in November of 1982 when my granddaddy died. I always dreaded that day from my childhood on, when I’d dream he turned into a skeleton in front of me. But my senior year in college, the inevitable happened. I had a term paper due in Introduction to Old Testament. Despite the fact of heartbreak beyond belief, I returned to school two days after the funeral and completed the term paper (as well as my other class assignments) by the due date. It was difficult, but I understood that, as unfair as it might be, life goes on after a death.
But if the average traditional-age student suffers a similar loss, that student will be unable to function for a week or more. Sometimes the student may drop out of school the rest of the semester. Now if that student were in the work force, he or she would most likely lose a job missing that many days of work, even after a death in the family. Life has its joys, but it is also cruel. By protecting their children from the inevitable losses of life, parents have failed in their duty to prepare their children for life away from home. This, and not only economic problems, helps explain the glut of adult children returning to live with their parents. Their parents used to provide everything they desired–why not once more? The problem is that parents do not live forever, and they will leave behind someone who is another strain on the social-welfare system, someone who will contribute little to loved ones or to society.
Some students will mature despite their parents’ failures. Some students who were brought up the proper way will become apathetic and lazy. But most students who were pampered as children will desire to be pampered adults. They will do the least amount of work to pass in college, they will do barely enough to get by when they are employed (and many will not care if they are fired for inadequate job performance). They will not vote, nor will they contribute to the good of their community. Self-absorbed, they will not be able to maintain stable marriages. Two self-absorbed people will not a marriage make.
In I Samuel, God punished Eli, not because he was a bad man, but because he knew his sons were doing evil, “and he restrained them not.” That mistake cost Israel a battle and cost Eli his life. What will be the cost to today’s parents who create shells of human beings who are too lazy to work, too lazy to think, and too fragile to bear the bumps of life?