Escaping the Peter Pan generation
Matt. 16:24 - Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
One of my favorite songs is Yellowcard’s “Life of a Salesman.” Ryan Key (the singer) wants to grow up to be a better man just like his dad. I once played and sang this song for my dad on Father’s Day to show him how much I respect him and want to be just like him. And as a husband and father with kids of my own I still emulate my dad in many ways, and I love long conversations with him about the important things in life.
Years later, Twenty One Pilots came out with “Stressed Out,” a song that idolizes the simplicity and stress-free nature of childhood, singing “wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days, when our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out.” Spending any amount of time on Twitter or TikTok will show you many examples of people who live in this state of mind, idolizing a childhood in which everything is handed to them and they have no responsibility. It is as if all of society seeks to join Peter Pan’s lost boys in a place where they never have to grow up.
This fear of growing up is at the root of many societal problems. As a child, everything is provided by our parents. Our parents protect you from harm, defend us against bullies, shelter you from foul language, make many decisions for you, and comfort you when you’re sad and hurt. As an adult, you’re exposed to the harsh winds of reality, unprotected from strangers who mean you harm, and if you don’t find a way to make money you will starve to death. An immature child pushed alone and unprepared out into this harsh reality likely won’t survive.
And so, for the majority of human history, it has been a father and mother’s job to prepare their children for this harsh reality. Parents teach children how to work, how to find or make food, how to build and sew and sustain themselves. They also teach the child how to thrive in society. They each them how to make friends, how to resolve conflicts, how to build trust, and how to serve and give charitably. They teach their children the religious stories and moral principles that will guide them like a compass through difficult decisions. It is a parent’s job to prepare their children to live a good life after they are gone.
But the family is crumbling. Society vilifies men as toxic and says marriage is an artifact of the patriarchy. Divorce and single motherhood will soon be the norm. Men and women are starting families later and later. Dating is increasingly more difficult as hookup culture thrives. Church attendance and community participation are declining rapidly. Educational institutions instill “modern” values devoid of a religious moral compass. The government has attempted to step into the role of a universal parent, and fails miserably in the attempt.
Our current and upcoming generations of adults never get the chance to mature. They are children carried or forced through each stage of life unguided and alone with no moral compass and no responsibilities.
We need to revive the excitement of growing up. We need to encourage our teenagers to get jobs, earn money, and use that money to take major steps in life like buying their first car. We need to show our kids how much fun it can be to be an adult, and get them excited to grow up. We need dads to step up to the plate and commit to raising their kids. We need both men and women to date for marriage, not just to hook up, and choose partners that they want to raise kids with. We need to turn outside of ourselves and spend time serving and loving others. We need to follow Christ’s example and take up our cross, bearing the burdens of life so that we can become stronger and more self-sufficient. We need to become strong enough that we can bear the burdens of others, while also teaching them how to bear their own burdens.
We are all children of the same God. We are created in His image. Let us all, both men and women, step up to the plate and seek to be more like Him.
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