Ben Sasse is the junior senator from Nebraska. However, before his tenure as senator, Sasse was the president of Midland University. As such, Sasse likely had many opportunities to observe the type of young people who will lead our nation in years to come.
Unfortunately, many of the young people completing college these days are a ways off from becoming the responsible adults which our nation requires. In light of this, Sasse recently suggested five simple steps to raising a well-rounded, responsible, and mature adult. These include:
1. Resist Consumption
As Sasse explains, there is a great deal of difference between “need” and “want.” Ensuring that our children understand this is a key link in the chain to adulthood. Sasse also infers that good parenting will occasionally allow children to experience “mild deprivation from time to time.”
2. Embrace the Pain of Work
It’s often said that childhood chores are a predictor of success; however, a recent study found that only 28 percent of parents require their children to do chores. Yet according to Sasse, “If our children are to become real adults, they need to know that difficult tasks are things to be conquered, not avoided.”
3. Connect Across Generations
Often conditioned by the age-segregated system they experience in school, children often avoid the companionship of others beyond their grade in school. However, Sasse argues that mature adults are those who are comfortable with and learn from those of all ages:
“Social science confirms what parents know from watching older siblings care for younger ones: Adolescents acquire vital social skills by interacting with people outside their peer bubble.”
4. Travel Meaningfully
Travel, Sasse notes, is another opportunity with which to get children out of their comfort zone. Along with this experience, travel also enables children to broaden their minds and think about doing with less.
5. Become Truly Literate
According to Sasse:
“Reading done well is not a passive activity like sitting in front of a screen. It requires attention, engagement and active questioning. …
That our young people take so little interest in reading is sad, but not just for them. It also keeps them from growing into the sort of engaged, responsible citizens our republic needs. America’s founders understood literacy as a prerequisite for freedom and self-government, and we are paying the price today for failing to take that truth seriously.”
In the eyes of today’s world, making children work, denying them what they want, and encouraging them to move beyond their circle of little friends might seem cruel. But in reality, the real world is a cruel place. Doesn’t it seem like plain, old, common sense to prepare them to meet the challenges of life while they’re young, instead of treating them like hothouse flowers that will wither under the first sign of frost that comes into their life as an adult?
Image Credit: Ryan McFarland (cropped) bit.ly/1ryPA8o
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.