Last week, my office mobilized and launched 20 of 28 teams serving this summer around the world. One team was missing a member. She decided about 7 days prior to her trip departure that she no longer “felt called” to go. While the student leaders had been having conversations with the team member about her lack of communication, she never told us she was considering not going. Until she didn’t show up for commissioning. And then last week, once she got the bill and her student account put on hold, her mom stepped in and ever so kindly told me that she “felt unsafe about going and has been telling the leaders forever”.
In their book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, the authors give clear and direct correlations to how three “Great Untruths” have set up not just students, but the universities they attend, for significant challenges. In my work with college students (and their parents half the time), I would agree with Haidt and Lukianoff that today’s students are much more fragile than those in previous generations. This student I mentioned was going to a very safe, westernized country in central Europe. The student refused to take ownership for her decision to no longer participate in this experience, and instead blamed both her Christian “calling” and her feelings of being unsafe. I wonder if this student had seen herself as fragile, and conditioned herself to believe that she could not handle this experience, which ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy that her mother then had to rescue her from? And in this particular instance, her mother is fighting on behalf of her daughter to get out of the financial commitment that the daughter willingly entered into to the tune of $1,400 and change. In this situation, is the students mother going too far to protect her daughter from the negative consequences of her decision, which then decreases her daughters ability to develop grit in order to become a strong and resilient adult?
As both a parent and a University educator, I take very seriously the charges in this book. I find deep resonance with the ideas of rejecting the untruths of fragility, emotional reasoning, and us vs. them thinking. I have seen how these great untruths have harmed students and have set them up for more challenges in college, as well as in their future vocations. I just hope we’re not too late.
 Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, (New York, NY.: Penguin Press, 2018), 4.
 Ibid., 7.
 Ibid., 8.
 Ibid., 176.
 Ibid., 259.