Our society is sick. Post Modernism, rapid technological developments, our struggling economy, and a fractured political system have taken their toll on the health of our society. As with any infection, it attacks the weakest and most vulnerable parts of the body first. In every community across America the young and the elderly are suffering the horrible effects of our societal illness. Our most vulnerable have been fragmented off and abandoned. Separated from the adult community and left on their own to survive or perish.
Isolated and Alone: Ask any kid, penetrate their veil of fear and you will discover that they feel isolated and lonely. They feel like they are on their own against the world. They don’t know who to trust. They feel like society has left them on their own to figure out how to grow into an adult. Kids are born into isolation. They no longer are welcomed into the community. They are not cared for, embraced, and nurtured as valued members of our society simply due to their status as a young member of our community. They are not the recipients of unconditional love. They have to prove their worth in order to be accepted and they learn that this only happens through their performance and their image. If you can “perform” (scholastically, athletically, and socially) and you have a good “image” (good looks, good clothes, money), then you are cool and you will be accepted. If not, you will be fragmented and isolated as an outcast.
Abandoned: A recent survey concluded that today’s parents spend 40% less time with their kids than parents did 30 years ago. The pressures of our society have consumed the parents time and our kids have been abandoned. Latchkey kids (a child who returns from school to an empty home because his or her parent or parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little or no parental supervision) are now the rule not the exception. Studies have clearly shown that kids left home alone for more than three hours a day reported higher levels of behavioral problems, higher rates of depression and lower levels of self-esteem. Many parents have decided that child rearing is too messy to deal with, so they have outsourced the parenting to consultants. Parents love their kids so much, that they would rather pay a personal trainer, tutor, mentor, teacher or coach to deal with their kids, than have to spend 30 minutes talking with them face to face.
Life’s Pace: Parents and adults are so busy just trying to survive in our modern “rat race” that they don’t see what a terrible toll that it’s taking on the lives of our kids. True, our hard economic times have put a lot of pressure on parents to provide for their families, but at what cost? Many parents operating at this “break neck” pace are either too fearful, too exhausted, or too dependent on it to be able to step back and see the real effect that it is having on their kids.
Denial: Many adults and parents, when confronted with the reality that we have isolated and abandoned our kids, are simply not willing to commit to doing what it takes to correct the problem. It’s too messy, it’s too hard, and it requires too much effort on their part. They choose to look the other way. They say, “Let someone else deal with it, it’s not my job”.
So there it is…that’s the disease. How do we treat it?
- We adults need to let kids know clearly and loudly that they are not alone, we are here to help, and we can be trusted. Then we need to back up those words with actions involving our time, talent, and treasure.
- Every adult in our community must make a renewed commitment to care for, embrace, and nurture our kids.
- Parents need to take the time to evaluate the total wellbeing of their sons and daughters and be prepared to change their personal priorities for what is in the best interest of their children’s future.
- Kids need to be welcomed and valued in every facet of our community. They are all “our” kids.
- We adults need to work diligently on changing our society’s acceptance criteria for youth from “performance and image” based, to “unconditional love”.
- Every member of our community must commit to recognizing and eliminating things we do that fragment, isolate, and abandon community members. Especially the young and the old.
- In each of our personal lives, and in our interfaces with others, we need to do everything we can to help make families healthier.
- We adults need to get in touch with the reality that we have a serious problem on our hands and that it is going to be a long painful process to cure this problem. This is a journey that will require much sacrifice on our part, and the goal, a destination which we probably will never “arrive at” in our lifetime.
…..but don’t you think it’s worth the battle?
By Randy Traeger