No. 1290



Some time back I got a letter from a young lady who lives in Mill Shoals, Illinois. After stating her name she said, “I would like to ask you a question about teenagers. I am writing a book about teenagers. I also think that this past year will make teenagers much more aware of our constitution and our government. My question to you is this: What do you think of teenagers today? I am almost thirteen and this is my project for the summer. Please answer it if you can. It would mean a lot to me.”
She signs the letter, “A future politician”, and includes a P.S. “A retired teacher sent me an article you wrote on ‘How to Raise a Crook’ and I want you to know that I read it and it was so true. All teenagers should read it.”
Well, how about that for a question that you could spend the next month answering and still not do it justice? Because young people are so important to loving parents and to our nation’s future, I try to share some positive thoughts from time to time on this important subject in the hope of making a difference. Before I move on, if you are an adult, permit me to pose this same question to you, “What do you think of teenagers today?”
While I did not spend a great deal of time in answering her question, here is what I said: “First of all let me say that I love teenagers and some of them are my best friends. For over 25 years I worked with our nation’s schools as a businessman consultant and have had lots of experience working with young people. Here is what I have learned from first-hand experience. There are millions of teenagers in our nation who have wonderful values and will make a great contribution to the future of our nation and we should never forget that.
“On the other hand, in a general sense I have seen the decline of morality and lack of respect by the majority of teenagers that must be reversed if our nation is to survive the next century and beyond. What happened at the end of Woodstock 99 is a good example of what I am saying. It was only a few short years ago that most of these people were also teenagers.
“Chelsea, it really comes down to the individual and how he or she was reared. While there are many influences in a young person’s life -- ministers, teachers, friends, peers and many others -- it’s the parents who make the most difference and will have the greatest long-term influence on a person’s life. As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the greatest source of truth and inspiration to help any person become all that he or she can be. In the book of Proverbs we find these words in Chapter 22: 6, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it’.
“I was pleased to learn that you are a future politician. We need good people in public office at all levels of government. As you grow older, I would like to keep up with you and share in your success. I want to wish you the very best with your book and your future goals in life. Who knows, someday you may make a real difference in the lives of millions of people. God bless you and feel free to contact me anytime.”
As I thought about this letter from Chelsea, I was reminded of something a former sportscaster for our CBS Affiliate in Little Rock, the late Benny Craig, used to close each segment with, “No man ever stood as straight as the one who stoops to help a child.” So true, and I hope you are the type of person who feels the same and will take the time to encourage and help a young person.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)