In case you haven’t heard, I have a new grandson, Titus. Yes, I’m becoming one of those annoying senior adults who shows pictures of his grandchildren to strangers on a street corner. I’ve turned into Grandzilla, coming soon to a town near you.
But as I sat playing with Titus a few weeks ago, I heard the television announcing the attack on the Parisian newspaper. I got to thinking about the world in which he’s growing up and what challenges he’ll encounter. For the next couple of weeks, I’d like to share from the perspective of a cultural observer about the five challenges I believe my grandson and your children or grandchildren will face. Author Tim Elmore calls their age group the “Homelanders Generation” because they were all born after the launching of the Dept. of Homeland Security. Here’s the first two challenges:
1. Learning to be non-technical in a world of technology:
As we grew up, technology was not necessary. We lived without most modern conveniences. We fixed bamboo fishing poles if they broke. We repaired our cars or changed our spark plugs. If our plumbing backed up, we just dug a new hole and dragged the outhouse over a few feet.
But these days, technology has moved from a convenience to a necessity. This generation is growing up with a total dependence on it and is losing the ability to think. They don’t know their oil needs changing or a tire needs air unless a light on the dashboard comes on. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but in many cases, technology is replacing skills.
Every aspect of this generation’s lives will be connected with technology. It won’t be long before you get down to the last sheet of toilet paper and your bathroom will connect with amazon.com and order another roll.
But how can we teach our children to live without technology in this technical world? That cell phone your elementary school child owns is the oldest form of technology he’ll ever know. In fact, that’s one of the ways I think transformissional mission trips will prepare this generation for the future. Living off the grid for a while will help your child become more self-reliant than gadget-reliant.
Doctors have recently identified a new type of disorder, “phone separation anxiety.” It happens when a person who gets separated from their cell phone for any length of time has panic attacks. When I was growing up, a cell phone was what inmates used to make their one phone call. I want my grandson not only to learn to live without attachment to a cell phone, but also to gain basic skills about home and automobile repairs. It will be a real challenge to teach our children to live without technology in a technical world.
2. Embracing biblical values in a multi-value world:
Our values are being diluted by a collision of cultures. I addressed this issue in my book Rite of Passage Parenting. When we settled America, we did so according to value systems. If you immigrated from Poland, you moved into a Polish area. Everybody in your community would have similar ideals, cultural and religious beliefs, and the children would be exposed to one predominant value system. Therefore, they would almost always choose that system as their own.
I grew up in an Irish community. My teachers, my next-door neighbors, our doctors and our pastor all had the same value system. I joke that if I got a spanking at school, I would get one at home. Our community hung together.
Today, our children no longer live in a single-value community. Almost every TV show, billboard, artist and movie espouses a different value system than yours. Your message is just one of thousands your children are exposed to every day.
Again, when I was growing up, even the TV shows matched my parents’ values. Remember Father Knows Best? That’s why teaching Scriptures in the home as well as the church has become so much more critical. Our children need to develop the knowledge and skills of the Kingdom much earlier and be challenged in deeper ways. Otherwise, they’ll blend your values with those of others.
That’s one of the reasons I believe all students should go on a five-week transformissional mission trip when they turn 13 years of age. This is a critical time of life to challenge their value system as they learn to give a reasonable defense for the faith.
Well, I’ve run out of room for this week and will pick up next time. Until then, I have some really cute pictures of my grandson to show you.