One of the things that worries me about many of the teens and young adults I know is a real lack of passion about much of anything. They might be fans of a sport or an actor, sometimes very intense fans, but these are mostly interests that make them spectators rather than participants. Too many of them seem to lack any true passions of their own.
There are exceptions, of course. I know teens who are passionate about programming, about long-distance running, about horses, about soccer, and so forth, but it seems to me that many teens and young adults have lost the passion and idealism that used to be the stereotypical characteristic of that stage in life.
At an age where I would expect them to be full of passionate romances and idealistic dreams and revolutionary politics, they are instead generally just bored and directionless. They date, but they don’t seem truly to fall in love. They make plans (usually under parental duress), but they don’t seem truly to dream about their future. They have opinions, but they don’t seem truly to believe in them, at least not enough to do much about them.
All of this seems so opposite to my own teen years, when I fell in love so hard that I’m still falling for the same woman, when I loved poetry so much that I wrote pages of terrible maudlin verses, when I felt so passionately about political justice that I joined the local Marxist party. These passions are still with me, even if I don’t express them in quite the same way (my political activism leans now toward community building rather than violent revolution, and hopefully my poetry has improved as well). In fact, I have so many passions that I don’t have enough lives to express them all. I’d love a second life that I could dedicate to photography, a third one for urban agriculture, a fourth for documentary film, a fifth for running a home-based restaurant, but I can only dabble with these things around the passions that I’ve already chosen to follow.
And this is what I want for my children – I want them to have so many passions that they can hardly choose between them. I want them to fall in love enough that they’ll dedicate their loves to someone. I want them to have dreams so big that they’ll sacrifice to achieve them. I want them to have beliefs so strong that they’ll actually work to accomplish them.
I’m not sure how to bring it about, but that’s what I want for my children.
Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged nine, seven, and three. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.