Authors Assert Building Resilience Is Essential For Today’s Young Adults In New Book ‘Stolen Youth’

The following is an adapted excerpt from the new book “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence And Indoctrinating A Generation,” by Bethany Mandel and Karol Markowicz (DW Books, March 2023).

In Praise of Resiliency

A tear rolled down her cheek. A moment later, she closed them, and she was gone.

I share all of that with you because challenges await everyone at some point, even if my mother’s death was an extreme example, and building resilience is crucial to meeting these challenges.

How did my mother raise a child who could go through such an experience and not only remain intact but also go on to thrive? This is a question I’ve been asked countless times, and the answer is in direct conflict with what woke ideology promotes to its adherents.

The assertiveness and clear hierarchy of power my mother modeled in our home was a blueprint for me, and it’s one I model in my own home now. My mother, in her role as the head of our household of just the two of us, took seriously her duty to train me to be a fully functioning adult, because unfortunately, due to her illness, she recognized I would be thrust into that role far earlier than my peers. While still in middle and high school, I was getting a crash course in what is now facetiously referred to as “adulting”: paying bills, making meals, doing laundry, plus dealing with the bureaucracy of health insurance claims and navigating the healthcare system in general. I was put in charge of all of these tasks in our family in part to help my disabled mother with household management but also so that I could gain experience while still wearing the “training wheels” of having my mother present to troubleshoot or answer questions.

That assertiveness and training prepared me for life after her death just shy of my seventeenth birthday.

Just as important as this training, however, was that Mother believed in a concept that has become frowned upon by parenting “experts”: discipline. Remember the “look” that our parents once gave us, the one that froze us dead in our tracks? How often have you seen that same look in modern parenting settings? We are told as parents that any discipline should be “gentle” and that the relationship between parent and child is more cooperative than authoritative. This model of parenting leaves children without clear boundaries and breeds less capable, less happy, less functional adults because the “training wheels” never come off.

John Rosemond, a family psychologist and syndicated columnist on parenting topics, told me his perspective on the shift: “In the late ’60s and early ’70s, we (being the American parents) bought into the very utopian-sounding idea that the parent-child relationship was only of psychological benefit to the child if the relationship was democratic, if the child was in any discussion in the family on a level-playing field with his parents. We shifted from the understanding that the raising of a child was about the proper training of the child and the teaching of a proper moral worldview to the idea that it was all about having a wonderful relationship with your child. [This] was clearly a denial of the very concept of legitimate authority.” Instead of parents whose primary goal is to raise children to be competent, confident adults, as Rosemond says, we now “have two generations of children raised by parents who are trying to be liked. These are kids who have received a lot of unconditional love but virtually no authentic authority in their lives.” Without that authority, they learn neither clear boundaries nor how to model that authority in their own adulthoods.

One striking result of this approach is a drop in self-esteem. That may sound counterintuitive, but such self-esteem comes from capability and competence, not constantly being told how great you are without ever having the chance to prove it to yourself. Many parents notice this problem but are at a loss as to how to help. A 1999 profile of Rosemond in The New York Times delivers a succinct explanation of his view of the link between discipline and self-esteem: “If held accountable for their behavior and allowed to experience hardship and frustration, children will develop self-esteem on their own.” Too many parents, particularly mothers, “are guilty of rushing in the minute the child begins feeling unhappy or distressed.” This short circuits the process by which children develop a sense of their own ability to handle challenges. As Rosemond says in the profile, “If there are two words that underlie self-esteem . . . they are ‘I can.’” He continues, “I was in a school recently. I walked into the boys’ bathroom. Above the mirror, there was this sign that said, ‘You are now looking at the most special person in the whole world.’ This isn’t self-esteem. This is narcissism.” Woke ideology teaches parents to build up their children’s self-concept by constantly praising them and protecting them from difficulty. But that only makes them more vulnerable to difficulty later on. Learning the skills to handle challenges, often through the hidden blessing of failure, is how humans develop resilience.

The growth in popularity of “gentle parenting” and an aversion to discipline and authority in millions of American homes is a clear problem for anyone familiar with the goings-on across college campuses. Again, the inmates are running the asylum. And they demand to be kept safe from unpleasant ideas and feelings to the degree that professors have to tiptoe around any possible “triggers” that might offend their students, rather than teaching the subjects in which they are recognized experts. It’s as if they still need their parents to cut the crust off their sandwiches and offer to make “noodles and sprinkle cheese” if there’s nothing in the dining hall to their liking. A population-wide shift in parenting away from discipline and clear consequences and toward making sure children only experience positive emotions has created a proliferation of young adults incapable of taking on not just the hard aspects of adulthood but any aspect of “adulting.” This is a societal catastrophe. Just look at the increasing number of “children” in their twenties and even thirties who are still living at home, extending their adolescence indefinitely.

They lack, in a word, resilience — an essential aspect of which is moving forward from past traumas and taking ownership over your life, something I was fortunate to learn when I was in college.

Almost three years following my mother’s death, my father committed suicide. We never did resolve the issues between us. Considering all that had happened, I somehow wasn’t a basket case. But I wasn’t OK, either.

In the weeks following my father’s death, I didn’t act much differently than I had before, but given all I had gone through, everyone in my life insisted I go to therapy, and so, I made an appointment at University Health Services. When I arrived, they had an input form asking why I was there for mental health services. There were three lines to list why I was there.

I wrote on the intake form:

  • My mom died when I was sixteen.
  • My dad committed suicide last week.
  • Do I really need a third reason?

The woman who did my intake salivated when she saw my form. She was a doctoral student in psychology and, I think, sick of listening to kids talk about stress from finals or their significant others. I think she thought, “Finally, someone with actual problems.” It took me over an hour to tell her my life story up to that point in our intake meeting, and I’m pretty sure she called dibs on my case.

I spent the rest of that year of college, my sophomore year, making orphan jokes. The hat my friend knitted me became my “orphan hat.” The jacket whose buttons popped off that I couldn’t afford to replace became my “orphan jacket.” That was how I defined myself. That is, until my therapist confronted me during one session, saying, “I know that’s how you see yourself. But is that all you want to be? An orphan?” She told me that I couldn’t change what had happened to me, but I could control my response to it. I could decide that I would be something more than just an orphan.

I’m incredibly grateful for this woman’s tough love, that she challenged me to be more than a victim. Sadly, fewer and fewer therapists are willing to push their patients in this way today. Instead, too often they perpetuate the problem. As we noted in our earlier chapter on how wokeness has invaded every aspect of mental health, from training programs to professional organizations, the fox is already in the henhouse. Embracing victimhood is seen as a goal in itself, rather than, as my therapist (correctly) saw it, a stumbling block to self-sufficiency.

Author: Bethany Mandel


This article is an adapted excerpt from the new book “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence And Indoctrinating A Generation,” by Bethany Mandel and Karol Markowicz (DW Books, March 2023).

Bethany Mandel is a contributing writer for Deseret News, an editor of the children’s book series Heroes of Liberty, a columnist for Fox News, and a homeschooling mother of six. Bethany lives with her husband Seth and their children in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Karol Markowicz is a weekly columnist at the New York Post and FoxNews, a contributor at Spectator World, and a contributing writer to Washington Examiner magazine. Karol was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in Brooklyn, and now lives in Florida with her husband and three children.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Already have an account?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Authors Assert Building Resilience Is Essential For Today’s Young Adults In New Book ‘Stolen Youth’