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Is this the real danger facing our teens today?

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/13/23

While screen addiction and drugs are a parents' natural concern, there's another issue creeping in that we should be aware of.
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While scrolling through social media recently I came across a headline that shocked me. It was the sort of article I’d never read, but I was drawn to see what the reactions were in the comments.

The title was something along the lines of: “My stepdad left my mom to marry me.” As I shook my head in disbelief, I read some of the reactions. Many were thankfully critical of the whole story, yet there were others that thought it was part of life, and there was one standout comment: “Whatever makes you happy.”

This is where my father would say: “Hold your horses! Whatever makes you happy? What planet are we living on?” But it’s a rhetoric I’m hearing more and more. People declaring they’ll do whatever they like as long as it makes them happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be happy in life. I believe we all do. But at what expense? Would I want to destroy a marriage for my own happiness? Absolutely not! I couldn’t lead a fulfilling and satisfying life knowing I’d deliberately hurt someone.

Many people might just call this morals. I would agree, and while I try to impart my own value system on my kids, I have heard the words of “whatever makes you happy” said between my young adult daughter and her friends.

The search for happiness

This search for “happiness” seems to fit in with the need for “me time,” another desire my daughter and her friends often share they need. (I try not to laugh at this, considering “me time” eluded me for most of my life to date and she’s just starting out.)

Again, I do think it is imperative to carve out time to unwind and breathe — and with hindsight I wished I’d insisted upon it at different points of my life — but the more unreasonable behavior and demands in the quest for happiness seem to feed a selfish spiral that seems to be affecting young minds at an alarming rate.

I’m not sure what the solution is. It could be to constantly reinforce the moral compass, but it could also be to reassess what happiness is: to examine the things that truly lead to a happy and fulfilling life. And surely it is making others happy, or at least not being part of something that leads others to be dreadfully unhappy.

This echoes the thoughts of Pope Francis, who shared in this homily:

Only love gives meaning and happiness to life. To spend one’s own talents, one’s energy and one’s time only to save, protect and fulfil oneself, in reality leads to losing oneself, i.e. to a sad and barren existence. Instead let us live for the Lord and base our life on love, as Jesus did: we will be able to savour authentic joy, and our life will not be barren; it will be fruitful.”

FamilyHealth and WellnessTeens
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