We worship youth above all else, says Pope Francis, and that is destroying our children. Speaking to a delegation in Rome the pope said becoming old in today’s world is treated as a disease in need of a cure, and our primary modern desire is for eternal youth. Except life doesn’t work that way, and role models, who model adult values and behavior, are essential for teenagers to understand the people they are becoming.
“He suggests that parents tend to compete with the young, almost in a battle to remain youthful, and the kids have nothing to look up to to become,” summarizes Dr. Shannon Holzer, who is uniquely positioned to appreciate the pope’s message. A graduate from Baylor University, Holzer studied religion, philosophy and politics and the intersections where they meet. Today Dr. Holzer teaches at Houston Baptist University and Houston Community College, noting that our obsession with youth robs from the young what is rightfully theirs and fails to offer the guidance they need to grow into responsible adulthood. “We devalue parenthood. We see becoming parents as a bad thing, as though it is the end of our childhood, the enemy of our youth.” It’s not, Dr. Holzer argues. It’s the next step, followed by grand-parenthood. He’s says our consumer-driven society has lost its sense of values, and therefore is not passing realistic concepts of aging on to the next generation. “That parenthood is actually valuable; that families are valuable. Children are valuable, and so too are those who produce them, the parents and the grandparents,” he tells KTRH News.
The pope went so far as to criticize our modern affliction for dying our hair. We want to hide our grey hairs rather than boast of them, he complains, and we want to remove our wrinkles, we want doctors to lift what has begun sagging. “Adolescent parents,” the pope calls them. “Adults who don’t want to be adults and want to pretend to be eternal teenagers,” he told the delegation. “This ‘marginalization’ can aggravate the natural tendency of adolescents to isolate themselves or slow down their maturing process because they have no one to look up to. There is competition but no role models.”