Youth in the Modern World
Adolescence—A Most Hazardous Time!
ADOLESCENCE—the time of life between childhood and maturity—has been described as “the most hazardous developmental human experience” today. The person who said that explained: “The adolescent is endangered because the continuity of the generations has been broken. He stands for the first time utterly alone and unprotected by his elders. He is subjected to the stresses of culture shock, future shock and outright neglect.”—Ruth Aikins, in Quality of Life—The Early Years, a book sponsored by the American Medical Association.
Change has been so rapid! Moral values have collapsed. Unbelief has grown.
Young people, needing guidance, often do not find in their elders a strength of conviction, firm values or solid ethics. Many young people think the older generation behaved abominably. But youth should remember that while earlier generations may have ignored right principles, those principles have existed all along in the Bible. It shows what people should have done, and what God will soon do to solve earth’s problems.
The Value of Firm Convictions
Do your children see you as a firm support—someone on whom to pattern their lives?
Joseph and Lois Bird wrote in Power to the Parents!: “The child is born into a world he cannot understand, a world in which he cannot survive without a great deal of support and protection. . . . He needs to know that the most significant adults in his life have found answers for their own lives, that they can make sense out of their world.”
“Our children need to find in us a strength of convictions, a set of firm values and ethics they see us live by. If they find vacillation, compromise, and hypocrisy in our actions, they will have difficulty building the strength necessary to maintain their own convictions as they mature.”
How blessed your children are if your family has such convictions, based on the truth of God’s Word! That Word can provide your family with firm values, strong spiritual goals, a solid faith in God, and an impelling desire to transmit that marvelous faith to your beloved young ones.
‘Pressured into Doing Wrong’
The pressure to copy our friends is a powerful force. A 16-year-old girl wrote: “When I was younger, I always got pressured into doing bad things, like smoking and stealing and all that. . . . I really didn’t have any desire to smoke a cigarette either, but I didn’t want everybody to say, ‘Oh, you’re chicken, you’re a jerk.’ . . . I have now realized that friendships built on compromise are pale friendships that fray easily.” A 12-year-old said: “When somebody pressures you, the best thing to do is ignore them or stay away from them, or to stay with friends that you like.” (Listen to Us, pages 110, 111) What wisdom from two youths—it is better to change friends than to be tempted to violate what you know is right!
Long ago Jehovah warned Israel of this problem. He said that association with unbelievers would cause them to “invite you,” and you would eat some of their sacrifices. Then their daughters would marry your sons, and lead them to worship false gods. (Exodus 34:12-16) Young Dinah learned the danger of ungodly association, to her sorrow. When she unwisely visited Canaanite girls, a young man, described as “the most honorable of the whole house of his father,” violated her, prompting a great deal of bloodshed. (Genesis 34:1-31) How true the Biblical warning: “Bad company ruins good morals”! (1 Corinthians 15:33, Revised Standard Version) Or, as The Jerusalem Bible puts it: “Bad friends ruin the noblest people.”
The pages that follow provide further details, based on God’s Word, showing how families can unite in overcoming the challenges of this modern world.