Proverbs 22:6

Andre von Mollendorff considers five of the main factors affecting young people today.

Andre von Mollendorff
Andre von Mollendorff

I don't know about you, but when you are working with young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old, it can feel like you are in a storm of activity, emotions and chaos! Having worked with young people for two decades now I have noticed some key factors that are having a direct influence on our young people, causing this 'storm' affect. I call it the 'perfect storm' as each of these elements in and of themselves is not bad. However, combined, they can wreak havoc in our young people's lives.

There are many factors affecting our young people today, I have identified five of the main factors over the years.

1. Parenting Styles - Permissive vs Protective

The single greatest influence on a child's life is their upbringing. In general, you get two types of parenting styles; the permissive parent and the over protective parent.

The permissive parents are often not very engaged with their children. Due to the 'feeling' of not being around, parents often compensate by 'allowing' their children to get away with 'murder'. Often there are no clear boundaries laid out for these children.

The protective parent (some sociologists call them the Helicopter Parents), on the other hand are more overinvolved and smothering. These parents protect their children from failure and make life too easy for them.

2. Education System - Left Brain vs Right Brain

Many people are coming to realise that our education systems, as wonderful as they may seem, are failing to cater for all types of learners. In general, the education system caters for your left-brain, analytical thinker and parrot fashion learner. The poor right brain, creative, tactile learner is often overlooked or seen as hyper active and treated for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

3. Technology

Technology has its pros and cons. Most people don't realise the addictive nature of technology and the effects that staring at a screen for hours can have. Not only is it scientifically proven that long doses of technology or 'screen time' can be harmful and addictive to the brain, the other side effects are equally damaging. Social media also has a significant effect on young people and makes them feel overwhelmed and often leads to depression.

4. Cultural Shifts - Post Modernism vs Biblical Absolutes

The worldview of post modernism is perfectly suited for young people. This includes distrust of authority, feeling-based ethics (what is good for me is good for me, so don't try and impose your convictions on me!) and no absolute truths. This rules...yeah!!!

This might sound wonderful at first, but the reality is that without a firm foundation of moral ethics, those who live with a post-modern mind-set find themselves in chaos and confusion about the meaning of life.

5. Economic Times

This young generation has grown up in unstable economic times. They experienced the 2008 financial crisis first hand. They have seen their parents retrenched. They have witnessed their friends studying for many years to only end up with no work and huge student loans. All of this has led to a further sense of fear and numbness when it comes to young people as they face their economic futures.

In conclusion:

There is hope. To navigate through any storm you need a lighthouse. We as parents, youth workers, clergy and teachers need to be there for our young people. We need to help navigate them to safer waters with much love and wisdom. Will you be an adult that both understands and navigates this generation? CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.