Abandonment or Abundance- Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders

In my recent book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, I suggest a handful of reasons why kids today (Generation iY) are getting “stuck” and are disabled from growing up. They’re unprepared for life after school is done. Adulthood sneaks up and ambushes them.

I believe nearly every struggle a kid has today can be summarized with one of two words. They have had too much or too little adult involvement in their life. Certainly this is not true for every student. There are many homes and schools and churches in America that have spooned out the right doses of these two elements I am talking about. Sadly, millions of children have gotten too much of one of them. The words represent extremes—but they are a mouthful.

Many students experience one of two extremes: abandonment or abundance.

1.  Abandonment – Leaves them too empty of resources to know how to act as an adult.

2.  Abundance – Leave them too full of resources to function independently as an adult.

Jason’s dad abandoned him emotionally when he was six years old. Dad left him (and his entire family) when he was twelve. Jason is in his late twenties now but has never recovered. While he functions at a job, emotionally he is at the maturity level of a thirteen year old.

Keith is 27 years old. His problem is not abandonment. In fact, quite the opposite. His parents have done too much for him. When he needs money—his dad’s got it for him. When he needs his clothes washed—mom is there. When he needs transportation or entertainment—he’s got it. Keith is paralyzed emotionally because he never had to grow up. His problem is abundance.

Think about the young people you know who struggle with life. With few exceptions, I believe you can probably point to one of these two extremes—abandonment or abundance—as a cause.

Millions of students today are unable or unwilling to leave childhood and enter adulthood. But stop and think about it. Adulthood has never been more complex (taxes, the economy, healthcare, the job market, etc.) Adolescence has never been more pleasurable. What incentive do they have to leave their world and enter yours?

We must get them ready. I’m curious—how are you addressing these two extremes above? What are you doing to get young people ready for life?