kyle gawneGuest Editorial


The (Dys)functional family

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In modern day America it seems the rules have changed. Everyone is a racist, everyone is a winner, and if you’re true to you then you’re always right. Along these same lines the family structure of America has changed. What used to be called the dysfunctional family is now the norm. These might be taken as bold words, but I see it as truth. And apparently so do others.

The statistics I have seen, and I’m sorry I don’t list any, show divorce and the number of single parents is on the rise. Not only that, but people are dating for years before getting married or they don’t ever get married at all. In effect, the old norm of one man and one woman married and raising their children together has been thrown out the window. This is despicable.

What is worse is that adults appear to ignore this reality until it is too late. Kids have known there is a problem for years. Doubt it? I have never been in a single classroom where there was not at the very least one or two kids whose parents were divorced. Along with that, I have never been in a classroom in my life where one or two children weren’t being raised by a single parent. You may think that’s not too bad, but I’ve been enrolled in small private schools all my life. The average class size was around fourteen. The ratio of students from single parent homes of four or five to nine or ten is not good; and that’s in schools where the parents are conservative Americans. I can guarantee the ratio is worse in public schools.

It is to the point now a new generation has come about that desperately wants to start a normal family, but doesn’t know how. This ignorance of family structure has affected more than just this area of life. All of our standards of what life should be like have been mangled and destroyed. And it’s not just my generation that knows this.

Diana West, who writes for the Washington Examiner and whose columns appear in 130 other newspapers, noticed this essential break down in values in her book The Death of the Grown-Up.

“In considering what I like to call “the death of the grown-up,” it’s important to keep a fix on this fact: that for all but this most recent episode of human history, there were children and there were adults. Children in their teen years aspired to adulthood; significantly, they didn’t aspire to adolescence. Certainly, adults didn’t aspire to remain teenagers.

A lot of things have changed. For one thing, turning thirteen [nowadays], instead of bringing children closer to the adult world, now launches them into a teen universe. For another, due to the permanent hold our culture has placed on the maturation process, that’s where they’re likely to find most adults.

The National Academy of Sciences has, in 2002, redefined adolescence as the period extending from the onset of puberty, around twelve, to thirty …. These are grown-ups who haven’t left childhood.”*

How sadly right she is. It never really occurred to me I was striving to become an adult until the tenth grade. That’s when my parents made that point clear to me, and while I might not have liked it at the time, I’m very happy they did. This doesn’t just happen to me, but to every kid out there. You become a teenager and no one tells you what exactly that means. I do however know that most don’t plan for it to last into their thirties.

This idea of extended teen years comes from, and contributes to, a lack of a solid family structure. Without parents to guide them, children have no idea how to live. And if there is no family structure to show us how to make a strong family then we will undoubtedly fail at our endeavors. This is why there are friends, with benefits and children, who aren’t married. They don’t get married because they never lived in a home with two parents; marriage is a completely foreign idea.

If this generation of adults does not stop this problem, I fear that it will only get worse and may be irreversible. However, if adults were to step up, and grow up, they could begin teaching a younger generation how to be adults. By doing this we could save ourselves from further destroying the families of America.

* Diana West, The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007), 1, 4, 5.

Kyle Gawne, 18, graduated from Arrowhead Christian Academy in May as Valedictorian. He plans to attend Bob Jones University this fall for Political Science. Kyle was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and has also lived in Watertown, Wisconsin and Taylor, Michigan (the metro-Detroit area). Kyle’s family moved to Phoenix about a year ago.