Still on comparing childhood/youth of the past to what obtains today. It is true that the only thing that does not change is change. Oh, so change does change, after all.
Now, do kids and young people today have self-restraint in their dictionary? Have the adults in their lives taught them to hold back themselves for a while? An exemplary image of self-restraint in the Bible is Mary in the verse, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). No! The children/youth of today are quick to retort, respond back and indeed give you a piece of their mind. No time to Pause, Wonder and Reflect (PWR = POWER). Though, you might say, “Are adults any better?”
Young people today find it extremely boring to read long write-ups. Even when they try, they browse through the opening and closing paragraphs. And if they are to respond, they make the shortest responses possible. Not many of them can take the trouble of engaging and arguing out facts. This is one of the reasons why reading assignments and studying for examinations are such a nightmare to many of them, including some (if not most) in higher institutions. They lack the discipline, focus, and ability to postpone gratification for a higher good. A young person who is otherwise, would usually stand out like a beacon among the crowd. So, seek to stand out!
This is a “Me, myself and I” type of generation, in which the self is glorified beyond all else. The society, by example, has taught them that life is about – what I want, what I need, what I think, what I can get, what I earn, what I can buy, what I can show off; a world of self-aggrandizement. It is all about iPhones, iPads, iPods, iTunes, and other i-devices. Instead: Where is character? Where is creativity? Where is integrity and humility? Where is pure volunteerism? Where is service?
Some young people live in the virtual world of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and do badly in real life social relations. As an unknown author expressed, “Technology has brought us closer to those far away, but distanced us from those nearby”. While parents are either too busy, are absent or give inadequate response to questions asked by their kids, the kids of today can get an instant response/answer from the internet, more so without being judged for asking ‘such’ question.
“Love and freedom are vital to the creation and upbringing of a child.”
– Sylvia Pankhurst
Music lyrics which could not be sang so freely by older generations are today’s hits even for little children. So much awe and reverence have been lost along the way. Now, everything goes.Of course, the adults of older generations share in all these queerness.
The adults who are reading this know that the above is not just a description of the children of this generation. They too have become part of the “instant” bandwagon. So, could you as an adult of an older generation stand out and give kids and younger ones some example to look up to? Or as we say in Nigeria, “Abi na the same rope tie all of us?”
Today so much emphasis is placed on grades and marks obtained as oppose to character, creativity and innovation. Parents put so much pressure on their children to attain good grades at any cost. But they also forget that each of these kids have God-given talents, passions, interests and positive characters that must be discovered and nurtured. As the grades get better, the child’s character needs to improve too for the better. For education without character and creativity is no education at all. It translates to another form of illiteracy.
All these culminates into the kind of parents we have in families, the kind of workers in organizations/institutions and the kind of leaders we see today in businesses. The young generation need to be helped so they don’t have to go through failed marriages and failed businesses before learning their lessons in life. Yet, this needs to be balanced with allowing them to fall and fail so they learn to pick themselves up.
For parents who grew up in the 1970s and earlier, you were socialized in a society/community that emphasized self-reliance and a strong sense of responsibility over one’s family. So why now babysit your kids and teenagers as though you will always be there to give them all the answers they need through life?
Parents have the responsibility to bring up children who are strong and motivated from within themselves. This means that a good mix of confidence, humility and self-esteem need to be well nurtured in them. We can teach them to take little steps at a time without having to compare themselves with other people. They are also never too young to learn little acts of delayed gratification, in the spirit of self-development and service to others.
Teaching your kids respect for others and good manners isn’t old-fashioned. Some parents see their kids behave badly and simply over-look them rationalizing that they are only kids. That behaviour or character, if not corrected, may return like nemesis to haunt the parents, the child or both.
In addition, kids would be better prepared for the future when they are taught certain values and principles. Some of these include: independence Vs responsibility; sometimes being able to stand alone for one’s convictions; and that choices and deeds directly result in consequences. Let them learn that if they want certain things then they will have to earn it. A kid of any age can begin to learn problem-solving skills. This helps them become responsible adults and hopefully, good citizens in the future.
Parents have the responsibility to bring up children who are strong and motivated from within themselves.
The truth of the matter is: you can’t give what you don’t have. You as a parent or guardian, you are ideally the best epitome of what you want your child/children to become. You do not need to be perfect, but they pick up your efforts, your value system, principles, discipline or lack of it.
The generational gap can be bridged. The differences in world views, perception and choices need not drive parents and children apart. The young ones of this generation can only be who they are and who you help them become. They never lived in your time and will never really understand. They are missing some values which you may have and they too have much to offer. Acceptance and an exchange of our best selves will make for better relations across generations.
How safe are the kids and young people of this generation amidst so much war, terror attacks and violence? The problem still lingers on. Indeed, some of the Chibok secondary school girls who were reportedly abducted on the night of April 14, 2014 have returned. We are indeed grateful to God and all involved for this. However, there are others still out there who must be rescued and brought back home; we cannot afford to lose those precious daughters, sisters, mothers and wives.
• By Linda Asimole Ellah