Adult Selfishness, Child Misery

Back in 2007 American columnist Diana West wrote an important volume entitled The Death of the Grown-Up (St. Martin’s Press). It was all about the fact that in America and much of the West adults have never really escaped adolescence. They prefer to live lives of irresponsibility, pleasure, and complete selfishness.

Far too many adults simply don’t want to grow up. They enjoy being their own selfish greedy pig, free of any commitments or responsibilities or cares. Hedonism and self-centredness reign in the West, and that is bad news indeed for the future of any society.

Image of The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization
The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization by West, Diana (Author) Amazon logo

Says West, “due to the permanent hold our culture has placed on the maturation process,” adults are now little more than perpetual teenagers. The truth is, “for all but this most recent episode of human history, there were children and there were adults. Children in their teen years aspired to adulthood; significantly they didn’t aspire to adolescence. Certainly adults didn’t aspire to remain teenagers.”

But they do now – big time. She puts this down to many factors: secularism, cultural relativism, multiculturalism, non-judgmentalism, political correctness, and so on. All these products of modern culture lead to this curse of infantilisation. And with so many adults abdicating their responsibilities and seeking personal pleasure ahead of everything else, there are plenty of casualties.

Our children especially suffer. Just consider the sexual revolution and no-fault divorce. Both arose in the 60s and 70s, and have caused inestimable harm and damage. In the old days when children were part of a marriage, feuding couples did all they could to work things out and put the well-being of children first.

But today we have countless millions of children growing up in single-parent families, mostly the result of easy divorce and adult indifference. Of course the impact on children of adult divorce is as devastating as it is well documented. We have known for decades now just how bad divorce is on children.

I have written about this often over the years and refer you to articles such as the following for more on this:

But all the statistics, research and evidence needs also to be supplemented by a human face: real stories of real children savaged by parental divorce. Consider this heart-wrenching story: “6-Year-Old Upset Over Parents’ Divorce Kills Self While Mother and Stepfather Shower”.

The story begins: “A 6-year-old boy still reeling from his parents’ divorce two years ago, hung himself with a belt while his mother and stepfather showered and his siblings napped and watched cartoons in Payette, Idaho. According to a report in The Argus Observer, this is the fourth time since 2007 that a 6-year-old has committed suicide in the United States, said Payette Police Chief Mark Clark.

“Police investigations revealed that the boy, who was not identified, had anger issues that appear to have stemmed from his parents’ divorce two years earlier. His school records also indicated this. He was reportedly watching cartoons on TV with his 7-year-old sister last month when he got up and went to the kitchen. Another 13-year-old sibling was sleeping in a bedroom, and his mother and stepfather were showering.

“Police said the sister who discovered his body said she heard gurgling sounds coming from the kitchen near the living room while she watched cartoons. About 20 minutes passed between the time her brother left the living room and the time she found his body. He had created a noose from his belt and hung himself from the freezer handle of the family’s refrigerator.”

Absolutely heartbreaking. Sure, there are times where divorce may become a necessity, but in the majority of cases of divorce involving children, one or both spouses simply opted for the easy way out, putting their own interests ahead of their children.

And studies have found that marriages in conflict can be turned around: couples willing to receive counsel and put in some time and effort into their marriages report very good results indeed. Most who choose this route end up happily staying together.

But let me finish with another appalling example of adult selfishness resulting in busted relationships and child suffering. What about this married father of five who simply walked out one day, only to re-emerge years later with his male lover?

This disgusting tale of adult lust and selfishness begins this way: “A married father-of-five who went missing 16 years ago and was legally pronounced dead has reappeared alive and well having started a new life for himself as a gay man.

“In a report broadcast on ABC’s 20/20, the man, Eric Myers, is described as having lived the American dream. The Arizona man married his high school sweetheart Anne, and they started a life having two daughters, Kirsten and Erin, and adopting three boys from Vietnam.”

It seems that debt and family troubles led to him simply pulling out: “They talked about divorce, but Myers wanted to do the Christian thing and stay married. Soon after, Myers attended a real estate seminar in San Diego and never came back. At first authorities suspected foul play, but they couldn’t find any evidence of a crime. Myers had completely vanished. They did find that he checked out of his hotel the first day of the conference, but kept going to the meetings. No one knew where he was or where he went….

“All the while, his family at home suffered from the sudden and inexplicable loss of their husband and father. Daughter Kirsten was only 8-years-old when her father left and remembers crying herself to sleep every night, and screaming that she wanted him back….

“In 1996, Myers was declared legally dead and the family received a life insurance policy for $800,000 which they invested in a trust for the two daughters. But no money could replace the fact that their father was gone. Kirsten, now 30 and married with two children of her own, says that she retreated to alcohol at age 11 and found that it made her feel better. She only quit drinking to comfort her mother who she describes as ‘one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met’.”

And then, 16 years later, he pops up again, happily announcing his homosexuality. “Myers makes no excuses for the harm he caused his family when he left without a trace. ‘I cannot say anything to deny that this is the most selfish thing in the world. And I will never be painted as a saint. But no one is all good, and no one is all bad’.”

The article concludes: “It doesn’t help that once Myers reappeared, Liberty Life Insurance sued the Myers family for $800,000 plus interest for the plan they awarded them, which the family is appealing. While he knows that coming back into their lives is painful, Myers says he made the right decision to return since living in disguise is a ‘horrible prison’.”

Hey bub, what about the horrible prison you threw your wife and children into? Who gives a rip about them? Hey, but as long as you are happy. And as long as your adult lusts and desires are fully met. That’s all that counts, right? Talk about a lousy selfish cretin who has never grown up.

Talk about perpetual adolescents who look after only number one, and let children and others be damned. Sadly these two cases can be multiplied many millions of times over. Modern Western culture is a wasteland of adult selfishness, hedonism and lust.

No wonder the West is going to hell. And our children are the really big losers.

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9 Replies to “Adult Selfishness, Child Misery”

  1. Thanks Bill, so sad about the young boy.
    Divorce is now so common that we, as a society, are hardened to what a tragedy it is, especially for the children.

    As for the second story- Im afraid that we are going to be hearing many more such stories as society celebrates people ‘coming out the closet’ and living their supposed true lives.
    Tony Abbotts’ sister, Christine Forster, and her lesbian partner, met through the school their sons attended.
    I remember the ecstacy of the media at this ‘great’ news event and I couldnt help but to think about Christines four children and Virginias also and the two family’s that were being torn apart.

    Such incredible selfishness.

    Annette Williams

  2. Never has 2 Timothy 3:1-5 been more appropriate as a prophecy than in the present Western society. The Church of this age will also be judged for its compliance or its inaction in the face of all this, because of its aim to be ‘culturally relevant.’

    Lindsay Smail

  3. How true your words, Bill, Western Society is certainly going to Hell and very quickly at that. As you so rightfully say Bill, we live in a World of Cretins, who’s only thought is for self. Me First, Second and Third and whatever else is left over.
    Leigh D Stebbins

  4. When Mum and/or Dad choose to start “behaving badly”, why should we be surprised that the kids “lose the plot” too? Individual autonomy should never be an unlimitable, inalienable right.

    John Wigg

  5. Leigh I am reading a great book that looks at the compliance of American Christianity with the surrounding culture. From nationalism to self indulgent “spirituality” to sin being hardly mentioned at all. It is called CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY, by Michael Horton.

    Wayne Pelling

  6. Yes so true – I have just taken three classes of 10yo’s. There are days when all you see and hear is “its about me, its about me”. One of those days — poor teachers!
    John Modra

  7. “adults are now little more than perpetual teenagers”
    Maybe excusing teenagers started all this. Who says teenagers are allowed to be hedonists anyway… the gospel of Hollywood?

    Tim Lovett

  8. There are NO Biblical grounds for a divorce, Gods Word says separate and reconcile.
    A divorce is the worst tsunami for a family ever.
    It is lasting damage to everyone involved.
    Selfish, self centered, pride. Against what our Lord created and ordained as marriage, One man with One wife for LIFE.

    Judith Bond

  9. An excellent, powerful article and all sadly far too true.

    You state: “But all the statistics, research and evidence needs also to be supplemented by a human face.”

    I completely agree, which is why myself and a colleague have recently begun a new project, “Index of Injustice” aiming to collect the individual stories of every person wronged by divorce, written simply and factually on the humble index card.

    We feel that usually when divorce is discussed it is in terms of statistics and academic reports which – while certainly useful – fail as you say to reflect the true human cost.

    We are aiming to do just that, and raise awareness of this terrible epidemic in an important and as-yet untested new way.

    Our aim is to keep collecting stories until we have many thousands of them – an undeniable visual testament to the terrible damage divorce has already done. We calculated that if we collected 512,000 stories – about half as many divorces as occur in the USA alone in a single year – then piled on top of each other they would reach the top of the Statue of Liberty.

    Please feel free to visit the site at where you can learn more about the project and see some of the stories we have already received. Any comments or feedback would be most gratefully received.

    Miriam Sloboda, London, UK

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