The new normless: the toll of relativism on our kids

Mar 20, 2017 by

by Eric Metaxas, LifeSite:

During a recent visit to Swarthmore College, political scientist Robert Putman of Harvard asked everyone in the room whose parents had graduated from college to raise their hands. Not surprisingly, nearly everyone raised their hands.

As it turns out, the ability to get into elite colleges isn’t the only thing that separates the children of the college-educated from kids whose parents didn’t graduate from college.

This separation was the subject of a recent New York Times column by David Brooks. In it, Brooks discussed the findings of Putnam’s new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” and, just as importantly, he discussed how we got to this point.

As Brooks writes, “In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same.” Well, not anymore. For instance, college-educated families are more likely to stay together. Brooks writes, only “10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households” while “nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do.” That is staggering.

The divergence in norms between the college-educated and the rest has become so pronounced that, as Brooks puts it, many of Putnam’s graphs “look like open scissors.”

More eye-opening than any graph are the stories Putnam tells. One young man named “David” told Putnam, “I never really got to see my mom that much.” David’s father “dropped out of school . . . and is now in prison.” As for David himself, he attended “seven different elementary schools . . . ended up under house arrest, [and] got a girl pregnant before she left him for a drug addict.”

Brooks is correct when he says that sympathy for these kids, however vital, is not enough. Brooks could have been channeling Chuck Colson when he added that “It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms.”

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