Comparing the generations

2010-06-18 00:00

WHEN I compare people from my generation’s childhoods (those who are 30 years old and above) with today’s children, I wonder: are these children better off than we were at their age?

My parents raised me not to question authority. If my mum asked me to jump I never asked: “How high, Ma?” I just jumped. My dad’s instructions were perfect law. Unquestionable. Until I was in my early 20s, I rarely challenged my parents’ directions.

Fast forward a few decades later and times are different. I know a six-year-old boy who won’t take instructions from his parents without asking questions like: “Why should I do that?” I grew up in an environment where children were seen and not heard, and I concluded that the boy’s parents spoilt him by entertaining his constant inquisitiveness, especially after they gave him chores to do.

After some thought I realised that my childhood fear of authority stayed with me until adulthood and has had its disadvantages.

For example, I had difficulty confronting a boss who I felt paid me an unfair salary. At the back of my mind I felt I had no right to confront him because he was a figure of authority. It took a lot of guts for me to negotiate for a higher salary.

I cannot imagine that inquisitive little boy cowering when treated unjustly as an adult. Perhaps the boy’s parents are doing a great job training him to stand up for himself.

All children should be taught to question instructions that they get from adults, especially those adults who are not the children’s parents. This could even help children fight against any potential abuse by another child or adult. In my opinion, being taught how to question authority and stand up for themselves means that this generation is better off.

I’m blown away by the level of general knowledge some of today’s children display. Advances in technology (television and Internet, etc.) bombard your child with so much information which some of us never thought possible when we were younger. Children today are so much more aware of the world around them, thanks to all this information, and this can surely only benefit them.

However, some of these advances in technology have come at great cost to our children. Cyber bullying, time wasted accessing social networks and violent video games are only the beginning. I was shocked when a South African teenage girl confessed on television that some of her fellow schoolmates download Internet porn and watch it during class.

Some unruly children take alcohol to school in their cool- drink bottles and some have the audacity to sell drugs to school peers. This kind of behaviour was unthinkable during my time and yet today’s child has overcome all these challenges.

Looking at all of these consequences, I can only think that in this regard my generation was better off.

I’ve come to the conclusion that today’s children are better off than we were because humanity has come a long way in improving child rearing.

Normal parents want their children to experience a better childhood and future than the one they had. Many parents are turning this wish into a reality by giving their children excellent care. We can only hope these children will grow up into adults who are a better generation than ours. — Parent

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