Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital “T”
That rhymes with “P”
That stands for pool.
We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City,
Gotta figure out a way
To keep the young ones moral after school!
Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…
Meredith Willson’s “Music Man” debuted in 1957, a darling Broadway spoof of 1912-era small town Iowa. In 1957 I got in my own serious teen-age trouble – my father found out I was smoking.
It seems the older generation has always had fears that their adolescents were going to perdition. What’s really at stake? Grandchildren. Are we being unreasonable?
OK, we’ve got 70 percent of men aged 18-24 regularly visiting online pornography sites, and their first exposure averaged age 11. The habitual involvement with this mortal sin, which affects many men – and women – leads to isolation, solitary sexual activity, and inability to enter or maintain a normal marital relationship.
Also troublesome are 10 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections among our young people each year, with over 1/3 of the U.S. population getting similarly infected.
“Relationships” of cohabitation are increasing. Becoming more popular are brief, loveless, sexual encounters, called hookups. Like baboons, without pretense of love or courtship.
Casual sex might lead some into marriage, but by then, what’s special about that? Ultimately, such marriages and even life itself become subject to whimsy – and vulnerable to being casually thrown away. Fewer marriages can look like fewer divorces, but there’s still 50 percent divorcing. Babies and children are fewer – and many of the few remaining kids aren’t being introduced to any faith.
If it weren’t for 40 percent of babies being born today to unmarried women – half of whom are under age 20 – the dropping population in the U.S. would be even worse. To just maintain a steady population in the developed world, the average number of children each woman of childbearing age must have is about 2.1 In the U.S., massively aided by government assisted artificial contraception and abortion, we’re at 2.01.
So… adolescents grow up don’t they?
Adolescence actually lasts until adult maturation of the brain – estimated at age 25 or older in the U.S. But all the data suggests that a prolonged – possibly lifelong – self-absorbed kind of adolescent state is increasingly attractive to young people. Basically, our society is firmly headed toward birth controlling itself out of existence.
If you worry about who’s going to run things, and who’s going to consume and maintain the economy, the future is scary. If truth matters more to you than illusion, it’s pretty obvious we are in trouble, and it’s not just a perception of the aged.
How to present adulthood as a challenge
Parents must get that the risk of adolescent pregnancy is far outweighed by the risk contraception and its fallout poses to a virtuous life – and ultimately salvation. Indeed, artificial contraception has no place in any Christian home. Teens can be motivated to embrace chastity if modeled in the home and properly presented.
Across the river from modern day Iowa, Bishop James Conley has written, “The sexual intimacy of marriage, the most intimate kind of human friendship, is a pathway to sharing in God’s own life. It is a means of participating in the incredible love of God. Contraception impedes our share in God’s creative love.”
Discourage dating when marriage is years off in the future. Encourage group activities.
Both mom and dad must lead – weekly to Mass, monthly to confession.
As soon as children can understand, parents must explain the truly destructive effects of pornography. Eliminate every possible avenue for it into the hallowed confines of your home. Be extremely cautious about permission to visit other homes and sleepovers.
Refuse sex education from public schools, Planned Parenthood, or any other secular entity. It’s awful at best, disgusting at worst. This sacred information deserves a Catholic setting.
Enroll your high-schoolers in diocesan youth programs such as Catholic Academy for Life Leadership, see at http://catholicacademyforlifeleadership.org/
Strongly consider local colleges, training, or workplace, while letting kids remain under your protective roof for a few more years. At secular institutions evaluate Catholic student centers and dormitories. Inform yourself about Catholic higher education, here or here.
Mostly, don’t give up. A virtuous life can be presented to teenagers as a courageous and attractive challenge.