Senator Ben Sasse writes in his new book about, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. He recently took some material from the book and wrote about “What Happens When We Don’t Raise Kids to Become Adults.”
He tells the story of being tapped to become president of Midland University at the age of 37-years-old. The board of directors did so because Ben Sasse had the reputation as a “turnaround” guy who specialized in helping troubled companies become solvent. The university certainly needed his help. They were on the verge of missing payroll four months in a row. But he soon discovered that “finances might not have been the biggest problem at the school.”
One student, for example, staged a sit-in in the president’s office and announced he would not leave until the president resolved a scheduling problem for him. He was upset that the registrar wouldn’t be offering a particular course he needed the following semester. When Ben Sasse engaged the student in conversation, he proclaimed, “You need to figure this out. I pay tuition to go to this school, which means I pay your salary. So you work for me.”
The university conducted annual surveys about student experience on campus. It not only showed their lack of a work ethic but a lack of understanding of the difference between production and consumption. The activities they said they enjoyed most were sleeping in, skipping classes, and partying. A few mentioned canceled classes as the best part of their four years.
I hope that some of these examples seem crazy to you. Unfortunately, for many in this emerging generation, these attitudes seem about right. That is why Ben Sasse wants to remind these young people that growing up involves maturity, hard work, and even delayed gratification. If not, we will have a country of perpetual kids.