This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
I have heard it on the news, read it on the Internet, and seen its truth with my own
eyes: This generation of young people is the first in the history of our country to be
worse off than their parents. Three of the major culprits are disease, debt, and
despair. Is it any coincidence that children are not faring as well as they used to with
an increasing number of moms (between 60% and 70%) working outside the home?
Sometimes we don’t realize just how crucial our work as homeschool mothers is. As
you are planning for the upcoming school year, rejoice that you are working hard to
raise happy, healthy, hopeful children who will be lights for Christ in a world that is
increasingly difficult and dark for youngsters.
Disease and Life Expectancy
For the first time in the history of this country, children have shorter life
expectancies than their parents. Why? The escalation of diseases among children and
teens, many of which are self-inflicted. Childhood obesity is now an epidemic, and
because of it children are experiencing diseases once reserved for those in their
fifties, sixties, and seventies—like heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Sexually transmitted diseases are wreaking havoc on this generation of young
people. I spoke recently with Kevin Caiello, a homeschool dad and a former director
of an abstinence organization targeting teens. Kevin shared some very troubling
statistics with me. Thirty years ago there were only two significant sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs): gonorrhea and syphilis. Both of these were bacterial
and could be treated with penicillin. Today there are between twenty-five and thirty
known STDs, with subcategories and multiple strains. Now there is a whole category
of viral STDs that can’t be treated with antibiotics and in effect become a life
Kevin spoke of one meta study that reviewed a number of studies dealing with the
attitudes of teens toward premarital sex. Fifty years ago, 12% of girls and 20% of
boys thought premarital sex was okay. Today, that number has escalated to include
72% of teenage girls and 80% of teenage boys.
These attitudes have tragic
consequences. In 2005, ten thousand U.S. teens acquired a new STD—every day.
And we haven’t even touched on the tragic aspects of AIDS, teen pregnancy, and
My father attended law school on the GI Bill after serving as an officer in the Navy in
World War II. At one time he was concerned about how he and my mom would make
it financially, because there were no student loans. He graduated, as most of his
colleagues did, with no debt.
My, how things have changed. In his article titled ―The Indentured Generation: How
Debt Stunts Young People’s Dreams,‖ author Garance Franke-Ruta makes the
Whereas they once started their adult financial lives with an eye to the future,
today’s graduates emerge from college weighed down by the burden of just
getting to square one. . . . While society urges the young to save and invest in the
future, the new structural realities—rising tuition, declining federal aid, high college
debt, overly easy credit-card access, low salaries and high housing costs—combine
to make young people net debtors, not net savers.
To put it simply, many young couples are entering marriage with enough debt to
constitute a sizeable mortgage payment.
Despair and Hopelessness
It is no wonder that young people are more depressed than ever. They are sick.
They are embracing sexual activity outside of marriage. They are in debt. They feel
hopeless. According to an article in The Journal (Newcastle, England), ―in spite of
the fact that we are a more affluent society, there has been a 70% rise in teenage
depression since the mid-eighties, with six million prescriptions for antidepressants
being written for children each year. In addition, the suicide rate among young
people is three times higher than it was 20 years ago, with children as young as five
being treated for self-harming.‖
I can’t imagine that the statistics in the States fare any better.
Now for the Good News
Simply put, children need their moms. They need a parent who can fix healthy meals
and send them outside to exercise and to play. They need a parent who is home to
monitor behavior and enforce good morals. When teenagers return to empty homes
in the afternoons, they face temptations that the simple presence of an adult can
mitigate. They need parents, not media, to teach them right and wrong. They need
parents to teach them how to handle finances responsibly. They need parents to
share with them the Good News of the Gospel.
Deuteronomy 6:5–7 says: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you
today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall
talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when
you lie down and when you rise up” (NASB).
These verses imply that parents are their children’s constant, faithful companions. By
being home and being involved in the lives of your children, you are an ambassador
of Christ to them. You can constantly demonstrate to them through word and deed
who Christ is and what He has done for them.
If you want happy children, teach them about Christ. If you want children who know
how to work through problems in a healthy way (because no human being will ever
be problem-free in this life), teach them the principles of Scripture.
We have good news to share with our children in the midst of a hopeless society.
Take every opportunity to teach them the Good News. Second Chronicles 13:18 very
simply and powerfully reminds us that “the Judahites succeeded because they
depended on the Lord” (HCSB).
Jesus: The Great Physician, the Perfect Provider, and the Wonderful
Preparing for a new school year can be exciting and a little overwhelming.
Remember this: You are the most important ingredient in the curriculum equation—
your presence, your conversation, your optimism, your encouragement. And most
importantly, your freedom and availability to lead them constantly to the One who is
the Great Physician, the Perfect Provider, and the Wonderful Counselor.
Zan is the Director of Apologia Press, a division of Apologia Educational
Ministries; the author of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential; and an
international speaker. Her goal is to empower and encourage parents in the eternally
significant task of homeschooling. Zan and Joe homeschooled their three children
from kindergarten through high school, for a total of twenty-one years. In 1984, Zan
was threatened with jail by the South Carolina State Superintendent of Education.
She founded the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in
1990 and served as its president for ten years. She also served as the National
GrassrootsDirector for ParentalRights.org.
1. Wells, Brooke E.; Twenge, Jean M.; Changes in Young People’s Sexual Behavior
and Attitudes, 1943-1999: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis. Review of General
Psychology; 9(3), Sep 2005, 249–261.
2. Weinstock H., Berman S, Cates W., ―Sexually transmitted diseases among
American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates,‖ 2000. Perspectives on Sexual
and Reproductive Health, 2004:36(1):6–10.
3. Garance Franke-Ruta, ―The Indentured Generation: How Debt Stunts Young
People’s Dreams,‖ The American Prospect, May 2003, Questia, 26 July 2007,
―Too Many Young Being Left Behind,‖ The Journal (Newcastle, England), 3 May
2005: 15, Questia, 26 July 2007,
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally
appeared in the July 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family
education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on
the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on
your mobile devices.