We’ve all heard of racism, sexism, and even agism. Has anyone heard of youthism? No? Didn’t think so. 

Even in the height of victimhood culture, few seem to care how the youth are struggling. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to coin a new hashtag for spreading outrage. But I do think it’s strange how the genuine problems of some demographics are largely ignored or downplayed. 

Right now, the youth of our country face a huge double standard regarding our responsibilities and rights. On one hand, we are coddled and deprived of job opportunities to the point that young adults enter the world with no concept of how to act professionally. On the other hand, minors are given the choice to mutilate their bodies if they think themselves a different gender, or can secretly obtain abortions without parental consent. 

This week has seen the culmination of the media’s hate campaign against Kyle Rittenhouse. Like with Nick Sandman, the mainstream media and elected officials alike have shown no qualms with trying to destroy the reputation of a minor, regardless of the facts or evidence. They’ve lambasted these children with even more hostility than they direct toward some adult political opponents. 

I can’t even keep track of all the various laws that define what the youth can and cannot do. There’s a different age for being able to get a job, a car, join the military, vote, get a drink or smoke, change your health insurance, and so on. These laws vary from state to state. Are we adults at 18 or not? In Alabama, now we’re not adults until age 19. Rather than being a child, and then becoming an adult, instead we face a confusing, amorphous time period where we slowly accumulate our full rights as adults. This time period, if you start at age 15 when you can get a work permit and drivers learner’s permit, up until age 25 when you must leave your parents’ health plan, is a full DECADE where you’re neither fully a child nor fully an adult! 

In some ways, the youth are given too much responsibility. How on earth is it acceptable for the government and school systems to bribe 13 year old children to get a potentially unsafe vaccine without parental consent? In other ways, we’ve destroyed the ability of our youth to learn and mature. With a vast job shortage, I’ve heard crickets about trying to recruit a vast source of labor who are chomping at the bit. Why is it acceptable to impede the ability of 15-year-olds to get jobs and learn how to become productive members of society - only to shamelessly turn around 10 years later and berate their lack of experience? In some ways, the youth have been expected to act with the maturity of adults, with none of the privileges. In other ways, adults have pampered and enabled the youth without placing any expectations on behavior. And we’re not so stupid that we don’t realize these various laws exist to suit the agenda of those in power. Biden’s administration doesn’t care about enabling 13-year-olds to make good health decisions. They just want to exercise their control in yet another way. 

As a largely conservative audience who’s experienced how incredibly frustrating it is for the left to apply one standard of behavior to themselves and a vastly different one to us, I think this is an issue we should take seriously. 

Biblical wisdom also cautions us, “fathers do not exasperate your children” (Eph 6:4). 

Recently, I saw a story out of southern Illinois about a 20-year-old woman who bought her first house. Her older neighbor proceeded to harass her, refusing to believe she owned the house. She ended up trespassing on the young woman’s property and even calling the police on her, accusing her of being a squatter when the younger woman refused to produce her paperwork at her neighbor’s demand. The young woman had to explain everything to the police and prove she owned the house, while her neighbor got off without any problems. The young woman’s father even told her she had been a jerk for making an enemy of her neighbor instead of revealing all her private information. How have we gotten to the point where it’s so absurd to see a 20-year-old member of society working and buying their own home, that trespassing and harassment is seen as fine even by the victims’ parents? 

Even earlier this week, I was eating lunch in a café, and couldn’t focus on my work because an older couple behind me was griping so loudly about one of their friend’s children. They said, “This boy sleeps until 6 p.m. He told me he was up until 8 a.m. playing video games. Why didn’t the mom just take his Xbox away? This is what’s wrong with the youth these days!”

Do you hear yourself? Why isn’t your conclusion, “this is what’s wrong with parents these days?” You’re quite aware the mother isn’t teaching her son proper self-control, yet you’re only willing to blame the child? 

I constantly encounter this attitude. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard leaders, politicians, and pastors blame the problems of our country on the youth. But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard one of my elders say, “we failed the youth.” How can we change? 

“Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). If the youth has largely abandoned conservatism and traditional American values, who is at fault? I don’t minimize the responsibility of the youth. If you’re read my other columns, you know I do not hesitate to call out my generation for our failings. But likewise, how can our elders not be grieved for their role in the current crises of the youth? 

My father has worked in youth ministry for over 20 years. He recently started searching for a new call and is considering how he’d attract more young adults to his new church. Twenty to 30-year-olds are the least represented age demographic in churches across the board. I thought I know exactly how you can get young adults back into church. Admit to how you also failed us, confess that you have exasperated us, show your grief for the turmoil we have experienced. 

Consider with compassion how the defining moments of Millennials’ childhoods were 9/11 and a surge of uncontrolled digital information. Consider how the defining moment of Gen Z’s childhood was the isolation and terror of COVID. We know how broken we are, loaded with mental health problems, debt, and relational instability. We don’t need to be told yet again how much we mess up. We need to be told we’re not the only ones who have, and that you’ll come alongside us as we try to adjust for a better course. 

Caylah Coffeen is a Millennial in Huntsville, AL who knows how to think and speaks up for the sake of truth and a future as bright as the stars. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.