Couples blessed with children are entrusted with an exciting responsibility to introduce their children to God and help nourish their faith. Having a Christ-centered marriage is the first step to building a strong, happy family. When parents take the time to learn and grow in their own faith, they can pass valuable treasures onto their children and build a family centered on love.
In many ways, our culture today is vastly different from previous generations. The youth are being targeted with immoral, relativistic messages from all angles of society. We, as parents, have a responsibility to learn and understand our children’s culture in order to connect with our youth and help them find meaning, purpose, and happiness in life.
A few trends affecting today’s youth:
• Changing families: As we hear frequently cited, about half of all marriages now end in divorce, having a dramatic impact on the children of these families.
• Rise in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births: About 70% of teenagers now approve of couples living together before marriage.
• Crisis of fatherlessness: One out of every three young people will go to bed tonight in a home in which their biological father does not live.
• Decrease in time that parents spend with their kids: Almost half of teenagers say that their primary wish for a better life is more time spent with family. The average father spends one minute a day in meaningful conversation with his kids.
• Increase in use of media: Young people today spend an average of 6.5 hours a day consuming media, and media has a powerful, noticeable impact on their worldview, lifestyle, and spirituality. Over the course of a year, an average child will spend more time watching TV than they will spend in school.
• Prevalence of a postmodern worldview: Only 6% of youth now believe in absolute moral truth; 83% think truth depends on the circumstances.
• Influence of a sex-saturated society: Sexual sin is becoming normalized to teenagers, with the innocence of young people being compromised at earlier and earlier ages in one’s childhood.
• Epidemic of depression and suicide: Suicide is now the third leading cause of adolescent death, and one in eight teenagers suffer from clinical depression.
What children need from their parents:
• Unconditional love
• Consistent discipline
• Listening ears
Young people today are yearning for love, attention, and spiritual formation from adults—especially their parents. They really do want guidance through their difficult childhood years, and as parents, it is our duty to be there to teach, help, and love our kids through this time in their lives when people and culture pull them in so many directions.
Take time to explore the resources we have provided for you here, which are meant to help you learn more about youth culture and help you to raise faith-filled Catholic children. Finally, remember that one of the most important things you can do with your children is to pray with them. Prayer is what holds families together!
*Trends and needs from Youth Culture 101 by Walt Mueller
Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul, Lisa Hendey
Stories for the Homeschool Heart, Patti Maguire Armstrong and Theresa Thomas
Youth Culture 101, Walt Mueller
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, Kenda Creasy Dean
Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith, David Kinnaman
Catholic Truths for Our Children