I have been hearing a lot lately about children leaving behind the heritage of beliefs they grew up with and accepting some of the mantra of culture once they go away to college. This trend is being noted whether the topic is religious faith, origin of the world, or the social topic of the day.
Although we in life advocacy work would like to believe that children raised in a pro-life household will carry on that heritage, divergence does occur. That is evidenced when some of our children or grandchildren opt for abortions, or when some support legalized euthanasia.
Why do these ideological departures happen, and what can be done to stop it? I’d like to suggest one probable reason, as well as steps to take to reverse the trend.
Besides the age-old moral battle, I suspect that a major reason for the divergences is that the youngsters did not deeply “own” the belief before they left home. In other words, they had not yet been fully convinced in their own minds that a particular position was worth committing to.
I believe to mitigate the trend, we as pro-life parents and grandparents need to intentionally coach youngsters to honestly wrestle with and grasp aspects of the life issue so that they are not wobbly on it when exposed to the different culture and viewpoints at college and in the world.
At Oregon Right to Life Education Foundation (ORTLEF), this approach of training the next generation has helped many young people own pro-life positions for themselves. The various contests for our annual conferences help the contestants learn facts and crystallize their own thinking about life issues. At our pro-life leadership camp, Launch, they learn more facts and wrestle with opposing viewpoints. The experience deepens their knowledge, understanding and commitment to life. Happily, many then go on to become avid advocates for life in adulthood. So, keep the conference and Launch in mind during the school year.
As summer rolls on, I want to challenge you to become intentional about doing something this season to help the children in your life embrace and advocate the pro-life perspective. Participation at our display booths at fairs throughout the state can help, but so can visits or activities that include older or disabled persons. Finally, invite your youngsters’ questions and doubts, then explore the answers together! At ORTLEF, we are ready to help where we can.