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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Kids Are Products of the World We Created

As I travel and speak on school campuses, in athletic departments, in companies or in churches, I consistently hear adults moan about kids today. “Those lazy, entitled, coddled slackers,” they say, “are going to ruin our country.”

It may be true.

But if it is, I don’t blame the kids. May I remind you that young people are the products of the world adults have created for them. If a kid acts irresponsibly, could it be that a parent failed to consistently enforce consequences for their poor decisions?  If a student acts entitled, could it be that parents or teachers coddled them and didn’t push them to grow up? If a college graduate moves home, unprepared for the real world, who failed to prepare them?

Watching TV

I’ve included one of my favorite poems below. It says it all:

We read it in the papers and hear on the air; 
Of killing and stealing and crime everywhere.
We sigh and we say as we notice the trend,
this young generation…where will it end?

But can we be sure that it’s their fault alone?
These kids who do things that we don’t condone;
Who was it shaping their first twenty years?
And who made the world they enjoy with their peers? 

Are we less guilty, who place in their way.
Too many things that lead them astray?
Too many credit cards, too much idle time;
Too many movies of passion and crime. 

Too many books not fit to be read,
Too many damaging things they hear said.
Too many children encouraged to roam,
Too many parents who won’t stay at home. 

Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books.
They don’t make the video games with gangsters and crooks.
They don’t make the liquor, they don’t run the bars,
They don’t change the laws, they don’t make the cars. 

They don’t make the drugs, that muddle the brain;
That’s all done by older folks…eager for gain.
Those self-absorbed teens, oh how we condemn,
The flaws of our nation and blame it on them. 

But rather than fixing blame, let’s fix the cause,
Let’s look in the mirror and conclude as we pause;
That in so many cases — it’s sad but it’s true —
The title “Delinquent” fits older folks too. 




  1. Paul Jolicoeur on October 8, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I am in full agreement with you here Tim. How could we expect anything else. This is a great reminder to me as a parent, to be the type of person I want my children to grow into.

    • Tim Elmore on October 10, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Glad to hear it Paul. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Timothy Lynn Burchfield on October 8, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I have four kids (20,23,28,30). The moment each were born they began to demonstrate their personalities. All four were different.
    I am not an expert on parenting but I do know this: difficult children become difficult adults, happy children become happy adults, quiet children become quiet adults.

    • Tim Elmore on October 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Timothy. I think it’s essential for us to nurture our kids in a way that fosters the type of adults we hope for them to become.

  3. Antone on October 8, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I do agree with your comments, Tim, and am already thinking about the number of articles and book chapters where your emphasis is in mentoring. At the college I am affiliated with, we have moved away from the advisor idea and are embracing the faculty mentor idea. Each student having a faculty member strategically placed into the life of a student who is not only concerned that all required courses are taken but also that personal time is invested, experiences are created, and relationships are nurtured that help a student reach a specific outcome for his/her life. We as teachers have to “own” these students as much as each student needs to “own” his or her own life.

    I’d love to see another version of the poem you gave that emphasizes the impact an adult can have who inserts themselves into the life of a student to help them know how to balance the use of video games, cars, social media, etc.

    • Tim Elmore on October 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Wow, that is really encouraging to hear. Thanks Antone. I love what you said about “owning” the students as it pertains to their education and overall college experience. What college are you affiliated with?

      • Antone on October 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

        I serve at Northland International University in Northeast Wisconsin – – and this year we have moved our academic model away from the “silo effect” of majors to talking about a student’s unique outcome. The academic service by which Northland facilitates the integration of discipleship (intentional investment) and academics is called Discover. Develop. Deploy. We assist students from their first year in discovering his or her unique passions and giftedness. That student is then paired with a faculty mentor in working with the student every week or two in helping them obtain courses, experiences, and relationships that assist in moving toward their specific outcome. In addition, we assist the freshmen in helping develop an outside relationship with a career guide who can offer some mentoring along the way. And then in deploy, each student will have access to training and resources designed for preparation in interviewing, résumé-building, and potential lifework opportunities. All of this is to get them properly prepared for great commission work and have them serving in their “best fit.” We are excited about it.

        I love what you are teaching, Tim, and use it with my students and my faculty to help understand how to best connect with this generation, not just for information, but true life transformation.

        • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

          Thanks for the info Antone. I am so encouraged to hear about these changes you all are making at Northland International. I believe our students today are eager for a mentor, for somebody to pour into their lives and help them reach their ambitions. Thank you, I appreciate your feedback.

  4. Terry Kennedy on October 8, 2013 at 10:15 am

    thx Tim great post… I have a 12 yr old, I remind her from time to time of the circle we create and live in… As you grow and go, take note of whom & what you surround yourself… Take note of the 5 closest people to you today as they influence who you become tomorrow… Take note of what you think about — is it centered on you or inspiring others…Which one do you think others want to be around… Amazing the circle continues… Just remember its in your hands and GODS gift that you unwrap everyday 😉 thx again Tim

    • Tim Elmore on October 10, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Great thoughts, thanks Terry. So much of my life has been navigated with the help of several great friends and mentors. I am encouraged to hear that you’re pouring that advice into you daughter. Sounds like you’re a terrific Dad!

  5. Jehú Barranco on October 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    This is a great article; it really struck home and reflected a lot of thoughts I’ve had before. I feel like we’ve taken responsibility from children and when they graduate college, we’re awestruck at the stupid mistakes they make. I reflect what Dr. Antone says about NIU. I am a student there, and I think the fact that they are forcing the responsibility on the students is a great thing; it makes us feel the weight that we aught to be bearing. I think more schools (and families) should do the same.

    • Tim Elmore on October 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Jehu!

  6. Lexi Riley on October 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    This is completely true. I’ve noticed growing up and looking back on teens and kids (and even college age adults) today that many are lazy, selfish, and care more about themselves than the world and country around them. I was just talking with a friend about this very issue where teens and the next generation seem to care more about their iPhones and tweets about their favorite movie star, more than they care about politics and the national debt. They rather be spoonfed the current issues through facebook and twitter than actually do any real research for themselves, and when it comes time when they’re old enough to vote, they either vote for the one that they’re friends are voting for, what Facebook tells them to, or they just don’t vote at all.

    But then is it really the kid’s fault, if that is what their parents and teachers have been doing all their lives? Spoonfeeding them information and not giving them the tools and the abilities to actually research effectively and not just hope onto Facebook or Wikipedia for all the answers to their questions and problems?

    • Tim Elmore on October 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks Lexi for sharing! Great points.

  7. Amy on October 16, 2013 at 12:48 am

    What you have stated here is an interesting perspective. I say that because it sounds contrary to what people would popularly like to admit, but I agree. Also, if kids are growing supposedly worse maybe we need to not only recognize that adults are responsible but also ask why they are not naturally taking responsibility? I wonder why do we seem to have an abundance of adults acting as children forcing the children to act as adults when the children are not yet equipped, nor are they being presented with good examples? How do we get adults to grow up in order to save the concept of childhood where children should be gradually shifting into adulthood?

    • Tim Elmore on October 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Great points, Amy, and great questions to ask ourselves. Thank you!

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Kids Are Products of the World We Created