My wife, Sally, and I recently were blessed with our twelfth grandchild. He’s so precious and we love him and the other eleven – and all the others that are sure to follow. Like our own six children, each of these twelve grandchildren is unique. Each is wonderfully different than the next. And I love them all.
But, I have to admit, contrary to common grandparent wisdom, I prefer my original six kids. Yes, the love we receive from our grandchildren is precious and heart-melting. Sally’s heart is big enough for all of them and more. Me? I like the ones I raised. I like their character. I hope our grandchildren follow in their footsteps – they likely will. But it’s not assured.
What I’m about to say sounds cliché. But something’s wrong with kids today. Yes, I’m old now. I don’t understand “time outs” or the need to wear bicycle helmets or the afflictions like ADD. Moreover, I don’t care. Something’s wrong with kids today. I’m not talking about a rising generation of bratty kids that eventually grow up to become responsible adults. And while I never underestimate the human spirit to overcome any challenge, I’m talking about soft and confused kids who might not have the character and discipline to lead, govern and live happily in a free society.
I have a theory that this generation of kids will be the first of the last few generations of Americans who will know true freedom. Of course every older generation thinks that the younger generation is on the road to hell. But today’s circumstances are dramatically different.
Every generation of American youth have had their follies. But ultimately, because of a supportive culture, they mature and became worthy of their inherited freedoms. They set aside youthful indiscretions, get married, have children, work hard and endure hardships. Past generations have been able to transition from little barbarians to civilized human beings because family, extended family and society were there to encourage them, catch them before they fell too far and reprimand them when they behaved badly.
That social safety net is disappearing and it’s disappearing for two insurmountable reasons. First, government is now so large and pervasive that its authority is displacing the authority of parents, religions and communities. Have you heard of “free range kids”? Those are kids who walk to school by themselves. Evidently, that’s now illegal in some places. You know government is displacing parental authority when we’ve reached the point that laws are passed to prohibit kids from walking to school without a parent.
The second unrecoverable circumstance for today’s youth is the breakdown of family structure. I don’t have to repeat today’s realities except to say too many American youth grow up without fathers and in broken homes. God bless the semblance of generational support that still exists. But it won’t last long. Rising generations without stable family structures won’t have any social or emotional safety net with which to save them.
So, yeah, when I see my own grandchildren whining and crying for no good reason, when I see neighbor kids abandoning faith and family and when I see rising generations, like Millennials, pursuing bumper-sticker lifestyles, I mourn freedom. As awful as the Baby Boomer generation has been, at least we had a collective sense of faith, family and freedom. With only a few exceptions I can see, relatively speaking, Millennials and younger generations do not.
So on lazy summer nights, sitting on my front porch in the quiet of the evening, I think fondly of my own six children – how good they were as children and how exceptionally good they are as adults – and I say a silent prayer for my grandchildren who, even when at their best, will face a nation collapsing under the weight of its own selfishness and dysfunction.