concerning things about kids

5 Concerning Things About Kids Today

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For many years, cars were a mystery to me. Every time the check engine light came on, my anxiety jumped. That light illuminated my ignorance about cars and made me fearful about the cost of fixing it. So I would ignore it, hoping the problem would sort itself out. But problems rarely sort themselves out and because I ignored them, many of mine went from minor to major fixes. These days, when the check engine light comes on, I’m proactive. I learn about the problems and have been surprised by how many I’ve been able to take care of myself. It just took a consistent investment of time and energy.

As I look at kids today, I’m seeing a “check engine light” come on in several important areas. If we ignore these problems, I believe they will continue to get worse. But with some time and attention, we can make positive changes. Here are 5 concerning things about kids today.

Have patience and empathy for your kids because the world they’re living in is challenging.

1. They’re filled with anxiety.

Being a kid is an anxiety-filled experience, especially for teens. But kids today are growing up in a more diverse and complex world. They are trying to navigate being overloaded with information, racial struggles, gender identity, school shootings, and a pandemic. All of that uncertainty is difficult for anyone, but when you’re a kid trying to find your way, it’s overwhelming. Have patience and empathy for your kids because the world they’re living in is challenging. Don’t dismiss their feelings of dread and fear. That will only make them feel alone. Instead, acknowledge and validate them. And most of all, don’t pretend you know what they’re going through because you were a kid once. That brings me to the next point.

2. There’s a gap between their world and ours.

The world we grew up in as older millennials, Gen Xers, or baby boomers is drastically different than the current one. Much of the turbulence in the world today is new to all of us. We’re all trying to figure it out. We can’t expect our kids to have childhoods exactly like ours and the same thoughts and feelings we had at their ages. We need to immerse ourselves into their lives, understand their perspectives, take an interest, and walk with them through it. Whatever you do, don’t trash them or their generation. They aren’t weak snowflakes because they have compassion, empathy, or attempt to understand someone’s struggle. The more judged kids feel, the more they’ll pull away and the gap will only widen. The best thing to do is listen and be there.

3. They’re focused on creating a brand.

Kara Powell, co-author of 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, has made the point that kids today think of themselves as brands. I’ve seen it personally. A majority of my son’s friends have their own YouTube channels. Part of kids creating a brand isn’t weird. We all edit ourselves, decide what to share and what to hold back, and find out what makes us unique. It becomes a problem for kids when they’re creating a persona rather than becoming an authentic person. They can think their whole identity is wrapped up in their online personality or feel pressure to stay “on brand.” They need to know they’re more than that and we need to help them embrace their full selves.

4. Their education on sex is lacking.

Pornography exposure at young ages continues to be a huge risk. Porn teaches kids that sex is about your own pleasure. It turns people into objects. Several years ago, I was asked to participate in a course on fatherhood. I spoke about the importance of starting the discussion about sex with kids around age eight. One of the attendees asked if speaking to them about sex that young ruined their innocence. And in a way, I’d say yes. I wish we could wait, but in today’s world, we can’t. I’d rather my kids learn a healthy view of sex from me at a younger age than a distorted view from their friends or from pornography.

5. They’re losing history.

Over 10 years ago, Jay Leno used to ask people on the street basic historical questions and the amount of ridiculous answers was astounding. According to the Nation’s Report Card, which assesses what students know, students in fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades scored lower in history than in any other major school subject. If we don’t teach our kids to love studying history, then we will be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Don’t put all the responsibility on our schools. We need to start at home by being students of history ourselves. Learn the stories and study people and events you didn’t cover in your education. Once, my family took a civil rights road trip through the south. We’ve also spent time learning about Native American history. I’m ashamed at how much I’ve learned for the first time at my age.

Sound off: What are some other concerning things about kids today?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think is the hardest part of being a kid today?”