I am reading The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse. Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
Mr. Sasse hits the nail on the head when identifying the problems our young people face in today’s challenging environment along with the cultural and economic consequences we will all bear.
Our young people struggle with problem solving and finishing a task, and possess an alarming lack of initiative – quantified by the number of college drop outs and grown-up kids still living at home. This is a result, he says, of our over-hyped consumer materialist society, a lack of understanding of where we, as Americans, have come from, and the forgotten lost art of good, old fashion parenting.
Mr. Sasse offers broad yet simple solutions we can all consider as we move forward in these fragile times.
Our kids are in crisis. I would argue that this crisis has accelerated since the publishing of this book. We can point the finger at any number of institutions that seem too intense, too big, too developmentally advanced. It’s the GMOs, it’s gluten, it’s an insane college admissions environment, it’s the helicopter parenting.
It’s everything and nothing all at once.
And then there’s technology.
Technology, with its amazing advancements, currently holds the minds and bodies of our teens in a vice grip. It’s a battle between the humans and the bots, where we champion personal conversation and eye contact, yet the spawn can’t even look up from their devices long enough to acknowledge our fight. As parents, we are left furious and incapacitated, stunned that we can’t seem to find the right arsenal to win.
How did we get here?
Maybe its the Fortnite craze. Maybe it’s my own personal realization that I spend the bulk of my waking hours consuming media.
Maybe its because I have read the statistics on today’s college graduates and how they lack the personal resolve to just, well, seek meaningful, productive employment.
Yet I see them as victims of a social media obsessed culture and they bear the scars from spending their adolescence on screens. We caved to Instagram and SnapChap against our better judgement, and we now have a rising generation of zombies.
It’s bizarre, really. But when I think a little deeper about it, its downright alarming.
Something is amiss, we all feel it.
Read Ben Sasse’s book. He brilliantly explains today’s crisis and offers five practical, convicting solutions that might actually inspire us all.
What does this have to do with a kid with high functioning autism? I don’t really know.
Except maybe this: Kids on the autism spectrum face an uphill climb every minute of their day. They are courageous in the face of constant adversity. They must be deliberate in learning life skills. They eventually have to learn to advocate for themselves and remain uncomfortable in order to succeed.
It’s difficult and miserable a lot of the time. But somewhere along the way, they might pick up skills that others their age may lack.
They see the world differently. They think in a round about way and approach the world from a different angle that is often unexpected and enlightening.
Where most of the world falls prey to in-the-box thinking and the status-quo, our dear Aspies remain unhindered by the need to follow the crowd but instead are fueled by their own personal resolve.
Maybe, just maybe, God has a reason autism diagnoses are skyrocketing. Maybe these beautiful minds will be tomorrow’s innovators and game-changers and risk-takers. Maybe they will learn resilience and initiative after years of difficult challenges. Maybe because of their unique predisposition, they will navigate these unchartered waters better than the rest of us.
(We just have to get them off their devices first.)