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on Leading the Next Generation


Evaluating the Shifts and Drifts in How We Lead Students


photo credit: roujo via photopin cc

There has been a slow shift going on over the last forty years in how we lead our young people in America. I actually think I am seeing this shift happening all over the world. Adults view the educating and raising of children differently, and it’s affected our work with young kids as well as young adults.


We used to pride ourselves on giving kids whatever they needed.

Now, parents pride themselves on giving kids whatever they want.


We used to offer school rewards when our students put out excellent effort.

Now we reward everyone, because we don’t want anyone left out.


We used to say to kids: “You can do whatever you want; go figure it out.”

Now we say: “You can do whatever you want, and I will make sure it happens.”


We used to give kids an allowance for doing chores around the house.

Today, we give kids money regardless of any contribution they make.


We used to allow kids substantial playtime outside to exercise and make up games.

Now, we structure their days with practices and playtime is in front of a screen.


We used to let our kids fail and lose, but would help them learn lessons from it.

Today, we refuse to let our kids fail. We don’t want to damage their self-esteem.


We used to see nearly every teen work at a job; it was the only way they’d have money.

Today, most teens don’t work yet somehow find the money for items they want.


We used to affirm young people for outstanding behavior, performance or character.

Today, we praise young people for effortless and even basic behavior.


We used to learn about values and how life works over dinner with our family.

Today, kids may learn about life, values, and even sex from school, since there’s no time for dinner together at home.


Yesterday, when a student got in trouble in school, they also got in trouble when they returned home. Parents took sides with the school rules.

Today, when a student gets in trouble in school, the parent sides with their child and the teacher or administrator now gets in trouble.


This may just explain much of what we see in our culture today.

What do you think? Leave a comment.


  1. charlene fonseca on March 11, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Agreed. This is the norm. Unless qualified called educators become leaders–and lead otherwise, we will continue downward through this spiral. Thanks for bringing the issues before us. Awareness is Vital.

  2. Randy Davis on March 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

    This is painfully true. As youth workers we used to “go on the journey” with students face to face. Now we connect with them through Facebook, twitter and text calling it relational ministry. While the TGIF (Twitter, Google, IPhone, Facebook – from Len Sweet) relationship can help us initially connect, inform, and motivate, it does not allow us to share our lives with students. An old phrase I have used and not sure where it can from; “We can impress them at a distance, but to impact them we have to be up close.”

    • Tim Elmore on March 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Great reminder, Randy. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tami on March 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Wow, how far we have fallen. I am one of those parents. What was I thinking? I was putting myself back in high school and doing for my kids what I wish I had done. Does not bring the right results. Need to think like the age we are. As you have said, I was preparing my kids for my past.

    • Tim Elmore on March 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Glad you found it helpful. It’s not too late to prepare for the future.

  4. CaliSurfer on March 12, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I agree with everything except the last one. I am continually disappointed with the structure the public middle school my son attends. Yesterday in Spanish class he watched “Dora the Explorer” in Spanish because the teacher said it would be easier to understand. His math teacher listens to Pandora on her computer while they work and take tests. The assistant principal wanted my son to spy on his friends and tell him if they did any vandalism in the restrooms. The mentality that the students are dealing with from their teachers and the school administration is nothing like it was when I was in school 40 years ago. I teach my sons to stand up for their rights and acheivements, and when that doesnt work, I’m his back up. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the beast! We shouldn’t have to fight for a good education in this country!

    • Tim Elmore on March 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      There is a difference between fighting for your child’s education and taking your child’s side when they are in the wrong. The last point in this list was meant to underscore the importance of teaching personal responsibility.

      I know there are times when you do have to speak on behalf of your student because of the conditions of the school but that is a different situation. Hope that clarifies the last point a bit more!

  5. CoachG on March 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

    as an educator for over 35 year I can attest to every one of Tim’s assertions. Absolutely right on!

  6. keepinitreal on March 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Hahahah! I don’t know what world you guys grew up in- but it sure wasent mine. My home life was full of sorrow and tears, violence and fears. My parents hated kids and didn’t want us around. We raised ourselves. Now my kids are happy. Educated, respectful and happy. Get real whine bags.

    • Tim Elmore on April 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Sounds like your childhood was tough and you’ve made it better for your kids. However, I am asking you do some homework. Your comment was a case built off of one story—yours. You must not have seen the widely reported research on young people today. My post was built off of research on 80 million kids in North America. If you care to read even some of it, you can find it in either of the books, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future or Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults. I am not whining about the kids, but warning so many parents who risk too little, rescue too quickly and rave too easily. (Another blog post that documents the statistics.) I do appreciate the work you’re obviously doing raising well adjusted kids. I only wish every parent were doing this in a healthy way.

  7. Gail Annie on April 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Your are so right Tim, kids today have a sense of entitlement no matter what they do o don’t do.Mostly what they don’t do..They are too busy texting the huge mass of “friends” they don;t know how to LIVE life..You are right on.

    • Tim Elmore on April 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Gail. There is worth in teaching responsibility!

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Evaluating the Shifts and Drifts in How We Lead Students