The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance – Ben Sasse (St. Martin’s Press)
I recently got a call from my son complaining that he had hit something in the road that caused a tire to go flat on his three year old car. After continuing to drive the car home, he drove it a few blocks to a friend’s house, because his friend knew how to change a tire. My son was mad because he had to buy a new tire, because the damaged tire was beyond repair; I was mad because I hadn’t passed on the knowledge my father had imparted on me, the relatively simple task of changing a tire.
As Fall arrived in Buffalo, New York, my Dad would invariably point me to the back of the garage where he stored the snow tires for his and my Mom’s cars and I would roll them out and with his guidance I would jack up the car and break free the lugnuts and swap out the tires on both vehicles. I was a big, strong kid, all of 12 years old when I learned the task. My son, who is twenty-five, wouldn’t have the first clue how to tackle the job. Changing tires is done by some guy at the other end of a cell phone call.
To me that is a sad statement about my parenting skills and the state of this country. The numbers are quite frankly, staggering! Nearly 20% of working age males in the United States don’t get up in the morning and go to work. One third of 18-34 years live with their parents. An entire generation of young adults don’t have the first clue how to rely on themselves to survive. One look at a story about the trauma caused by Facebook being offline for a couple of hours and you’ll know what I say is true.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse is sounding the alarm in his new book, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. Sasse makes the case that a combination of things has contributed to the sorry state of adulthood in this country. Parents have not imparted on their kids the value of hard work and the basic knowledge of how to do stuff. Instead the common sense lessons like how to change tires have been replaced by organized activities and participation trophies, because everyone is special.
Sasse also makes the case that this lack of basic knowledge has soaked into other sectors of our society like political correctness, childhood obesity, a lack of knowledge about how government works, and the detrimental impact it all has on our country and its future.
The prescription Sasse offers is not an easy one. He offers ideas on how parents can influence their children and improve their lives in the long haul. Many of these observations will undoubtedly be met with howls of pain and outcry by the parents of perfect little snowflakes, who may need Playdoh, puppies and a safe place to recover from the shock and awe of what Sasse proposes.