Not so great expectations


Most moms and dads have great dreams for their children to grow up and do something that matters. From a Catholic perspective, that means discovering and fulfilling God’s will for their lives. It’s recognizing our gifts and using those gifts to leave a positive mark on the world; to make a difference. Perhaps they’ll discover through guidance and encouragement from family, friends and mentors that they’re called to be a teacher, doctor, a priest or religious, or perhaps they have a special call to have families of their own in addition to a professional career.

Nowadays, even the sky is not the limit. Given the endless opportunities and in light of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, for example, you might be among those encouraging your son or daughter to think about becoming the next astronaut, and why not? With God all things are possible. This line of thinking seems reasonable, part of a normal healthy growth process — that is, if normal still existed. Unfortunately, and this holds for more than just Catholic families, we left normal in the rearview mirror a long time ago.

This latest example of the strange land in which we now find ourselves may be tough for parents and those who work with children to comprehend, and it’s certainly not what they were hoping to learn concerning how their children would respond when asked that common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In celebration of the historic moment in space, Lego conducted a survey in conjunction with Harris polling. However, the results show that even though there are all kinds of great options for kids to pursue, when it comes to the actual aspirations and expectations of little Susie and Johnny, “great” is probably not the word that comes to mind.

Some 3,000 children ages 8-12 from the United States, the United Kingdom and China were given a choice of five career options including astronaut, professional athlete, teacher, musician or vlogger/YouTuber. The results showed that American and British children were three times as likely to choose being internet sensations rather than an astronaut.

That’s not to say that making a career in new media and technology cannot be fruitful or meaningful. But other studies show that most who choose this route are not entering into the field to be the online version of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Dorothy Day. They’ve been strongly influenced by the culture and believe that attention, fame and money are more important.

It’s not exactly news that YouTube vloggers can earn a lot of money and become sensations practically overnight. But what should be a real wake-up call for all of us concerned about children, their futures and the future in general, is that these choices are a dead-end when it comes to real joy and happiness. This was confirmed by comments shared in a Business Insider article from popular vlogger Elle Mills. She has over a million subscribers, but as Mills explained in one of her videos, she comes up empty in the happiness category.

“My life just changed so fast,” Mills said. “My anxiety and depression keep getting worse and worse. This is all I ever wanted, and why am I so unhappy? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s so stupid. It is so stupid.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve been there, though not in the famous YouTube vlogger sense. From a young age, I put all my energy, hopes and dreams into being a famous broadcaster. When I reached what I thought was the ultimate job position, it was a lonely, miserable and empty place. If a baby boomer such as myself growing up in a world without the internet, cellphones, satellite TV, etc, can be influenced so strongly by the culture, what does this say for today’s kids growing up in our media-saturated world?

It’s said that in addition to hopes and dreams for our children, we have to make sure there is plenty of prayer, silence and reflection if we want them to shoot for something greater.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Court cases prompt question: When is a child a child?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
By: Lawrence P. Grayson Two court cases — one currently being considered, the other soon to be — raise numerous questions about when a... Read More

Celebrating the feast of Christ the King

Monday, November 18, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion The feast of Christ the King is celebrated throughout the Catholic world this year on Sunday, Nov. 24. Easter and... Read More

Opening the Word: The Great Conflagration

Friday, November 15, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Over the last few years, we’ve looked closely at God’s mercy. In this column itself, it has been noted that in... Read More

Finding grace in the midst of outrage

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
By: Dr. Greg Popcak I have a confession to make. This column has been a tough one for me to write. I joked with my editor that I have been so angry... Read More

Should Joe Biden have been denied Communion?

Monday, November 11, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion The recent report that a priest in the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, refused holy Communion to former Vice... Read More

Opening the Word: The redemption of death

Friday, November 8, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Those who attend a Catholic college or university often take courses in the history of the Bible. The student discovers... Read More

What fruits will the ‘Idol Synod’ bear? Time will tell

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
By: Christopher Altieri History is funny in the holdovers it keeps from its first draft — journalism — and in those it discards.... Read More

There’s been a lot of talk about priestly celibacy, but what does it mean?

Monday, November 4, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Throughout much of October, Pope Francis presided at a meeting of bishops from the Amazon River basin in South America,... Read More

The God who loves all

Friday, November 1, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley At the time of Jesus, the Pharisee was a son of Israel who took the Law seriously. Aware of the temptation of religious... Read More

Safe injection sites fail the medical ethics ‘sniff test’

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
When a federal judge ruled Oct. 2 that Philadelphia’s proposed safe injection site would not violate current law, the court overlooked a few... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!