By Steve Singleton, Executive Director at Still Creek Ranch
(reprinted from our July Newsletter. To subscribe to our monthly newsletter, click HERE.)
The children’s story Peter Pan tells of a place called Neverland, where children never grow old. Neverland was inhabited by the Lost Boys, “children who fall out of their prams when the nurse is not looking” and who, “having not been claimed by humans in seven days, were collected by the fairies and flown to the Neverland.” There are no “lost girls” because, as Peter explains, “girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams and be lost in this manner.”
Recently, Tracy and I had the privilege of speaking at a church in Virginia about what we have learned as the parents of six children and caretakers of hundreds of others through our service in childcare. Truthfully, we expected to be “preaching to the choir.” What we weren’t expecting, however, was the flood of comments afterwards from thankful parents who had felt helpless as they could see their children were being “collected by the (media) fairies.” They had been completely lost at how to raise children in the media-driven “Neverland” of today’s culture. It opened our eyes to the need to offer help beyond just one church in Virginia.
My generation grew up in a world where adults defined the culture in terms of morality, maturity, behavior, responsibility, and character development. I had to learn how to function in an adult world as I matured. Now I find myself as an adult scrambling to learn how to function in a world defined by youth. Thanks to the speed of technology, it is young people who are defining our world of morality, ethics, modern culture, and child rearing. The youth culture defining our world is highly intelligent, but lacks the wisdom of experience. In the past, adults didn’t always get it right, but at the very least they had learned by living for fifty-plus years that there are pitfalls we must be aware of. Today’s youth have no correct understanding of what it means to be an adult and find themselves jumping off a cliff into a dangerous form of adulthood they see expressed in media. To quote Muriel Barbery, “It’s a really weird way of looking at life to want to become an adult by imitating everything that is most catastrophic about adulthood.” In an adult world we are taught we need to leave Neverland as we grow into adulthood to focus on careers, family, and a deeper understanding of faith in Christ. Our youth-driven culture is scheduling flights to Neverland at an ever-increasing pace.
In my opinion, this shift from an adult-defined world to a new world defined by youth is the least recognized yet most damaging cultural shift to have occurred in history. Never before has youth led our culture. I fear is unlikely to ever change back, at least entirely. Tracy and I would like to start a revolution in the home that teaches parents how to raise children in this new world. We believe, to quote Ronald Reagan, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” At Still Creek Ranch, all we do is take victims of this new world and “train them up” to become new creations in Christ in order to cast them back out to successfully function as assets and not detriments to our future.
This post is not a diatribe against our new youth-driven culture. I love that I can video chat with my son on the other side of the world—thank you, young people, for teaching me this and so much more. Instead, my intent is to express my renewed passion to give direction and hope to families in this new world. As great as it would be to never grow old and remain a child forever in Neverland, ultimately it would result in an unhappy and incomplete life. The Lost Boys of Neverland longed for a mother. In fact, the story ends with the Lost Boys choosing to be adopted, and leave Neverland even though in means growing old. They had learned that a fulfilled life requires us to move past childhood.
Tracy and I will be sharing our thoughts on parenting on August 26th from 10am to 4pm at Still Creek Ranch. You can register to attend at Eventbrite.com (CLICK HERE). All proceeds from the event will be used to finance our “City on The Hill” campaign to build a brand new high school and dormatories for up to 500 students. Our passion is to build a school to educate and equip children rescued out of crisis, to become adults of strong character who are assets to their community. Our “dinner table” is Still Creek Christian Academy and we believe it can change the world.
Join us in this revolution—for the sake of our children.