Simple: We enable them.
65 years ago, my grandparents married at the age of 19. It wasn’t against anyone’s will. They weren’t coerced or threatened into the marriage. 65 year later, they are still as in love as they were in their wedding photo. My grandmother didn’t stay with my grandfather because she was financially unstable. Actually, she is a very educated woman with high degrees. She attended university during the time she was married, all the way through graduate school! She married my grandfather because she loved him and saw marriage as a natural step in the relationship. But with marriage comes responsibility, a word today’s generation is not comfortable with.
Centuries ago, college was a privilege. It was a responsibility to be taken seriously, much like marriage is also a responsibility. But, we’ve stripped these away and replaced with with a carefree extended adolescence. Few college students take on actual adult responsibilities, such as working full time or making payments. It’s a paradise for the young and the wild. Professors don’t expect more from their undergraduate students than they would a high school student. There are no serious repercussions to one’s actions, which I find difficult to assimilate. Back in the day, if I decided to skip class, I would not be e-mailed or phoned. I would not be asked not to appear in class again. It would simply effect my grade. But, consider the “real world.” If you decided not to show up to work frequently, you would likely be dismissed from employment. So, what are we teaching students today? We are not preparing them for the workforce. We are not treating colleges and universities like serious institutions that demand respect. “Clients” would be a more appropriate word to replace the term “student” for today’s university attendees.
In South Florida, where I live, many students live with their parents while attending university. In this case, I place a large blame on the parents, as well. Many parents don’t enable their adult children to be independent at this stage in life. They set ridiculous rules and place no adult demands. They continue to pay for their son or daughter’s phone bill, car payments, car insurance, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that an 18 year old will have a hard time finding full employment to sustain themselves AND be able to become successful in college. I don’t condemn assistance from parents. But, many of the college students I know who are living with mom and dad are just perpetual children. Even post-college, I know several of these perpetual children. It’s not to say that moving out of your parent’s home is the essential ingredient to being an adult. There are several reasons why one may be living with parents. But, those who do should be 1) treated as adults and 2) act like adults. They should be doing laundry, picking up after themselves, making their own meals, and assisting with bills, like any other adult member of the household. These parents do their children a huge disservice by continuing to extend childhood. For financial reasons, I lived with my mother and grandparents during my undergraduate years. I did laundry, I cooked meals, and cared for the animals. When I bought my first car, I made the payments on that vehicle. Nobody told me to do those things. But, I wasn’t raised to be an eternal child. From the moment I was born, I was an adult in training. The problem is that today, we are so focused on raising children, that we forget to raise adults.
We’ve traded our books for cheap beer on “college night.” We’ve traded our fine point pens for drugs. We’ve traded courtship for a one night stand… or several one night stands for that matter. While sororities and fraternities use to be a prestigious honor, their now the central headquarters for illegal and racist activities. We’ve traded professional dress attire for the “SLUT WALK” wardrobe. I’m all about what the SLUT WALK stands for. A woman’s dress is not an excuse for a rapist. We are not wild animals. We are made in the image and likeness of HaShem, and we should behave in accordance with His righteous ways. There is no excuse for raping someone. But, why must condemning an offender come at the expense of promoting immodest dress?
Today’s college ideal is simply about living for the flesh. Anything that appeals to the flesh is regarded as an activity one is encouraged to partake in. Neon lights. Loud music. Unhealthy food. Lustful sex. Drugs. What requires discipline is not: spirituality, good eating habits, long-term committed relationships, monogamous relationships, responsible spending. Ironically, these are not things you learn in college. But, these should be in the center of learning as you prepare for life as an adult.
It’s no surprise that we treat 20 something year old mothers as if they were teen moms. We treat 20 something couples as if the woman was a child bride. The other day, I came across some quote about how you should be irresponsible in your twenties. I beg to differ. In your thirties, your fertility decreases by more than 50%. If you are looking for a father for your children, this would be the time to be responsible about your marriage partner. If you are financially irresponsible, your credit can be effected immensely during this time. If you buy a home in your 20’s, you are likely to receive a lower mortgage rate because you have much more time to pay off the mortgage. Everything suggests that this a time to be RESPONSIBLE vs. irresponsible. Most importantly, draw close to God in your youth! He loves you! Learn to listen to His voice NOW so that you can distinguish it from the many voices that try to do the exact opposite of His will. You don’t have to listen to the world’s way of doing things. You can set a path for yourself, apart from the ways of the foolish.
My grandparent’s responsible decade of their 20’s brought me great blessings. It brought me aunts and uncles, and later cousins, close in age to me. It’s brought them the joy of seeing their great grandchildren. It’s given my family and myself a paid off home to live in. It’s shown our family that true, genuine love really does exist. Their responsibilities have never stopped them from achieving their goals. On the contrary, it has always enabled them to work harder, and teach us all the work ethic necessary for success. It’s just a sincere shame that this isn’t the mission of our colleges and universities today.