Thursday, May 03, 2012

Would American Youth Pass the Marshmallow Test?

Okay, you've just watched the video clip in the above post and learned how the "marshmallow test" underscores the importance of training children to develop the virtues of patience, trust and self-discipline. And you can see too how it relates to crucial real-world issues like savings, credit, employment, sex and more.

So how would young Americans fare if given the "marshmallow test?"

Not very well, I'm afraid.

I remember a George Barna article from a couple of years back which suggested that American youth are dangerously naive about what faces them in life. Indeed, rather than planning for long range goals (and accepting the sacrifice, austerity and hard work necessary to achieve those goals), they have high expectations for their future, even in the very short range.

For instance, 81% of them believe they're likely to have a great-paying job by the time they are 25. But money and perks aren't all the package -- 80% of our teenagers also believe they will be serving in a job "where they can make a difference” by that age. Furthermore, 71% said that by their mid-twenties they will probably have enjoyed international travel opportunities and more than a fourth of the teens believe its at least probable that they'll be famous by then too.

More traditional life goals were ranked much lower. Less than a third consider being actively involved in a church or faith community as definite and only 12% of these teenagers say it's a sure thing that they will be married by age 25. Only 9% are committed to having kids by then.

Yes, 48% answered the question that they would regularly be serving the poor but it must be an occasional action that they're contemplating -- only 7% actually said they expected to be fully engaged in such service.

What this all suggests, I'm afraid, is that we're going to have a lot of disillusioned young adults pretty soon.

Of course, we should hardly be surprised. Kids grow up in a consumer-oriented, celebrity-sated, entitlement culture and expect that self-centered success will just naturally happen for them. And amid the glitz, historic values like hard work over time, frugality and savings, the blessings of family life, and the consolations of religious community recede into the background.

It is these high but unrealistic hopes of the young that liberals manipulate so wll. And when those hopes are dashed by reality and the young are left disappointed and dispirited, liberals must try and give them scapegoats to blame and new castles in the air to dream about -- castles created, of course, by a benevolent but overarching government.

Hope does tell flattering tales. But, in this case, the hope is built upon a weak economy, a decadent culture and a democracy in decline.

It cannot end well.