You may have heard today's youth referred to as the "snowflake generation." Collins Dictionary defines the term as "young adults of the 2010's, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offense than previous generations." Financial Times included "snowflake" in their annual Year in a Word list, defining it as "a derogatory term for someone deemed too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own, particularly in universities and other forums once known for robust debate."
The reasons for this phenomenon are many. Some attribute the constancy of rewards for every event in which one participated. For instance, today's child has a roomful of trophies and ribbons, but very few actually represent winning a championship or earning first place. The continual expectation of receiving an award 'just for showing up' sets a snowflake up for sure disappointment when they begin to "adult."
Another potential reason includes the helicopter parent who hovers over his or her child, attempting to ensure that an insulation of perfection surrounds her. The recent trials of movie stars who have bought their child's way into prestigious universities serves as an extreme example. But then again, how many of us have completed our child's homework, or helped our American Heritage Girl have a more perfect craft by "lending a hand?"
How many of us are consumed with the safety and protection of our kids to the point of disallowing them to explore and learn how to fall and fail well?
Grade inflation is another contributing factor. In the 1960s, the average grade was a "C". Today it is an "A". Is there any question why almost 31% of today's adolescents suffer from a diagnosed anxiety disorder, mostly attributed to academic pressure? All kids are not "A" students, but that doesn't make anybody less worthy of life's success.
Prescribed activity seems to be the norm for today's kids. We schedule them to death. Piano, ballet and sports can begin to cultivate disciplines, but how often is a child allowed to stray from the prescribed and move into the purely creative? A movement to the creative and just plain having fun is my hope for families everywhere. Kids need this desperately!
I agree with Dr. Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders when he states, as a response to the increase of snowflakes and decrease of "true grit," that "We risked too little, we rescued too quickly, and we raved too easily."
As parents, it is essential to balance support with letting go. We must stretch our kids to go beyond their comfort zones and fail forward. Encourage our kids to engage in discussions that demand them to defend their faith. Provide opportunities of comparison between a biblical worldview and today's secular view, for our kids to understand their faith and own it themselves.
We must allow our kids to show responsibility and, as a result, be accountable. In American Heritage Girls, I ask our girls to create the grocery list for the campout AND provide it! When someone forgets, the whole Unit goes without. That girl will not forget the next time and the Unit will not die of starvation, but rather will only feel a bit of temporary discomfort. And that is okay, too.
What kids need is not a stress-free life, but the framework to treat stress well, as a stimulus for growth rather than a reason to buckle. As Christians, that framework begins in our understanding of our identity in the omniscient God who made us in His very image.
Dr. Tim Clinton interviews Patti Garibay on the daily broadcast.
On this broadcast, Dr. Tim Clinton talks to Patti Garibay, Executive Director of the American Heritage Girls. They discuss the mission of this organization and how it is encouraging young women to know their true worth in Jesus.
Learn More about the Guest
Patti Garibay is the founder and Executive Director of the American Heritage Girls. Educated at the Ohio State University, Patti has served in a variety of capacities as a volunteer at church, school, and scouts. She served as a Girl Scout volunteer for over twelve years as a recruiter and troop leader. Patti founded the faith-based inter-denominational alternative to the Girl Scouts, the American Heritage Girls, in 1995. Patti and her husband Pat have been married for 40 years, and are blessed with 4 children and 9 grandchildren.