A: First of all, let me commend you for writing an entertaining question! This column is only as interesting as the questions it gets and I’m certain yours has just prompted a few smiles out there.
The phenomena you describe result primarily from poor parenting, but there are other factors at play such as a society that prizes the shallow and an education system that has become emasculated.
Of course, some of it’s just immaturity and the developmental stage these kids are in. Their brains are still growing, and self-expression, mirror-gazing and “image” are everything during this phase.
Another consideration is how overindulgent parenting, combined with a wussy culture, breeds weak young people. These recent high school grads have never been forced to think on their own. Instead, they have been “rescued,” handed everything they needed and wanted and then some.
That’s why a job application baffles them. That’s why they follow the herd of their peers who post “sexy” and “cool” images on social media. They have not been taught to question or go beneath the surface, and they have not faced meaningful consequences for bad behavior.
Last week I returned from a national education conference and was struck by the “wussification” that was prevalent. In one session the presenter reminded us that “harsh, negative” language must always be avoided, especially when a student has done something very wrong.
You must never refer to him as “guilty,” she said. Refer to him as the “responsible student” instead. Do not punish the student either, as punitive actions are part of the dim, dark past and we are enlightened now. I’m sorry, but I’m just way more Old Testament than that. A little shame and discomfort are time-proven motivators. And as a writer, I couldn’t help but imagine how dull a book would be if such language were used — heck, it could become the new cure for insomnia.
Before some of you get all riled up, remember I’m not talking about every young adult, only the ones described in the reader’s question. In my work in education I am encouraged and inspired daily by what I witness in students. But a society that rewards the mindless and flashy over the spiritual and thoughtful undermines the good of everyone.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at www.thecrackerqueen.com.