What Happens When Kids Don’t Have Hope for the Future?

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting old, but lately I’ve found my thoughts  wandering to memories from my youth and early adulthood.

I can remember exactly what it felt like to know that I had the whole world at my fingertips—that anything was possible, and that I had a life ahead of me that would be every bit as good and prosperous as I chose to make it. And it wasn’t just me! I think that most people for the last several generations grew up with an overall feeling or belief that life was exciting and that what lay ahead couldn’t help but be better than the present or the past.

Earlier today, as I reflected on that feeling from my youth, and the path my life has taken in the years since, I was struck by a very sobering thought.

I don’t know that the majority of young people today have the same feeling about their lives and futures that I had. I don’t think they feel the same hope and excitement that we did. I don’t think they feel certain that good and happy and exciting things lie ahead, and that they are the masters of their own universe.

The thought came to me like a punch to the gut.

What has happened to make a generation of kids feel this way, and what can we do to fix it?

I don’t know if it’s the 24×7 new cycles, or that a lot of parents spend more time arguing with strangers online or mindlessly scrolling social media then they do talking or reading to their kids.

It could be that so many moms and dads have simply outsourced parenting to teachers, church leaders, coaches, and therapists.

Or maybe it’s the economy, or the prevalence of nihilistic thinking in popular media and music. Maybe it’s because families aren’t going to church like they once did, or sitting down to dinner together anymore.

The list of “could be’s” is longer than I have room for in an email, and a whole symposium could be built around identifying and solving all the problems that kids today face that previous generations didn’t.

All I really know is that we have to do better.

And I think that “doing better” is going to look different for every family. As it should, since each family has its own culture, tradition, and values.

I think this concern has been at the back of my mind for a long time. I may not have really put words to it until now, but several years ago I felt a strong push to create Tuttle Twins content that could help empower, inform, and inspire teenagers.

We started with our Choose Your Consequence series which features an older Ethan and Emily traveling the world, volunteering on political campaigns, and navigating more adult problems. I wanted young teens to have entertaining content to read that would help them feel hopeful, excited, and powerful.

Later, we started writing Guidebooks that featured Inspiring Entrepreneurs and Courageous Heroes because we wanted to offer teens examples of people who did hard things to help others, and who followed their passions to make the world healthier, happier, and more prosperous.

I see now how most of these messages are missing from the media, news, and culture that our young people are immersed in. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them, but I hope that some of the work we’re doing can be a bright spot and an inspiration for them.

The last couple of years have felt pretty dark and even hopeless for a lot of people, and it’s no secret that a lot of kids have borne the brunt of it. The statistics on teen and youth depression are pretty staggering. I don’t want to be a downer, or come off as too alarmist, but I think it’s probably a good idea for us to devote some special time and attention to the teens in our lives.

And while I don’t pretend that our books are some magic pill that will ease all the suffering of young people, or suddenly inspire them to be more hopeful and excited about their futures, I do believe that the Tuttle Twins and the principles we espouse can help parents open their struggling teens’ eyes to a future that is bright, and still very much theirs for the taking.

I suspect that most people reading this are already the kind of parents who are closely keyed into their kids’ struggles and needs. You’re already doing the work to help them become free-thinking, freedom-loving people who are prepared for the real world and all the hardships (and triumphs!) that await them.

And that gives them an enormous head start.

I’m just glad I can be here to help.

— Connor

Want More?

The Tuttle Twins children’s book series is read by hundreds of thousands of families across the country, and nearly a million books (in a dozen languages!) are teaching children like yours about the ideas of a free society.

Textbooks don’t teach this; schools don’t mention it.

It’s up to you—and our books can help. Check out the Tuttle Twins books to see if they’re a fit for your family!