Signs of the Times

Are you keeping up on cultural trends in American society?

Examine the issue of teens obtaining a drivers license. The legal age for getting a license is 16 in most states in the U.S. In 1978, 50% of 16-year-olds had one, and 75% of 17-years-old had one. In 2008, only 31% of 16-year-olds had one and a mere 49% of 17-year-olds did. The numbers continue to drop.

Why no hurry to get a license? Life is working out for them quite well without one. Mom is the chauffeur if teens want to go anywhere. They have everything they need to stay socially connected right in their air-conditioned bedroom. And… they don’t feel ready. They definitely don’t feel ready.

I remember turning 16. I could hardly wait to get my driver’s license. It was sort of a “rite of passage” into manhood for me. My dad told me so. I got myself ready to take that driver’s test and got it as soon as I legally could. Today — most high school students I know are in no hurry at all. Why? Just pause and think for a moment. In the adult world, the driver’s license has never been more complex. At the same time, the adolescent world they currently enjoy has never been more pleasurable. Why would they want to leave their world to come into ours?

Delayed adulthood. Prolonged adolescence.

Adults must see themselves as trainers and mentors. Our job is not to coddle. It’s to train them for the future. Our focus should be less on protecting them and more on preparing them. Parents, teachers, coaches, and youth pastors must recognize what we’ve done to this generation of kids. They are loaded with potential… but it’s being used on getting to a higher level in a video game.

In my new book called, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, I offer a definition for adolescence:  It is a season of increased self-consciousness and decreased self-awareness. If we’d just train them, we could reverse that definition. Lower self-consciousness and higher self-awareness. That’s what maturity is all about. Less about me. More about the bigger world around me.

Would you join me in training the next generation?


Signs of the Times