Being a parent is arguably one of the most difficult jobs you’ll ever do, but it can also be the most rewarding. The first thing I’d like you to do is think about the social pressures you had as a teen. Yes, there was bullying, but it by and large stopped at the school gate – now it’s 24/7 and often anonymous and relentless. Yes, you wanted to know about sex, but back then all that was available was Playboy or Penthouse magazines – now porn is only a few clicks away. Today’s teens are getting their sexual education from violent porn. Yes, you wanted to look your best, but back then that meant buying the big brand names that could afford to advertise on television and in magazines – now we’re getting fashion advice, hair advice, makeup advice again at the click on our phones, and body dysmorphia along with eating disorders are hitting an all-time high. So is cyberbullying and suicide. The pressure that technology is having on our young people is exacerbating an already difficult stage of life – a time where young people are trying to figure out how to ‘adult’. The problem is, today’s teens have more social pressures than ever before – this is resulting in a rise in narcissism, violence, cyberbullying, suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, porn, cosmetic surgeries, household debt. You name it – this monster has many tentacles! Being a teen today is harder in many respects than it was when we were teens. The real kicker is, as parents, we’re making it worse.
One of the challenges parents and caregivers face is the enormity and importance of some of our decisions. Will giving in to our little angel create a spoilt, tantrum throwing adult? Are we producing emotional baggage our children will cart around for the rest of their days? What sort of memories are we creating for them? Are we growing and raising nice humans?
The answer of course is, it depends. It depends on the parents, the environment, and not least of all, the child. Basically when we take on this task, we begin the making of a ‘cake’. What I mean by this is that the cake is the end result of what happens when different ingredients are added and mixed and then baked. It’s not just one ingredient that goes into a perfect cake – and similarly, there’s not just one factor that makes the perfect person. We’re all the result of our histories and our choices.
The purpose of this book is to look at some of the things that are impacting the growth and happiness of our children, and in turn our society. What my hope is that I’ll gift you the eggs which will bind your parenting ingredients in the hope of making at least an edible cake: a nice kid, who in turn will be a nice adult who will raise more ‘nice kids’. You get the picture.
Sadly, I see the opposite – we’re raising entitled children who lack empathy and compassion, who will grow to be adults who lack empathy and compassion who in turn will raise their children the same way. What’s wrong with that? In a world where our cultural core values have shifted away from family and community to a core value of individuality, what we need is more connection, compassion and love – not less.
It doesn’t necessarily bother me to see a child throw a tantrum, to me I see that the child is testing his boundaries, and I think that’s pretty natural. What is disturbing to me is when I see adults throwing tantrums – that’s not pretty! But sadly, it’s pretty common. Because we grow to learn and adapt to societal expectations, adult tantrums often manifest in emotional manipulation, bullying and domestic violence. Violence in our culture, on our streets and in our homes is on the rise and one of the ingredients that goes into that cake, is an entitlement mentality.
My message to you is based around a few principles. Firstly, that we are raising a generation of narcissists – humans who think about themselves before others – humans who think that they are more important, prettier, smarter and better than anyone else. Secondly, that as a society, we’re becoming desensitised to violence and violent behaviours – that’s why we see people filming fights and rapes, rather than trying to stop them. There’s more bullying now and the type of bullying is a lot more insidious and evil than when you and I were in the playground. These maladaptive behaviours are basically being normalised and are driven by the internet and social media. Finally, that teen sexual health is being compromised by a terrifying porn culture which normalises violence and degradation in sex. Porn is hijacking our children’s sexual health and distorting their perception of intimacy, thus negatively impacting their relationships.
How do we raise nice kids? There’s no one answer, but I do believe if you use even one of the suggestions in my book (to be released in 2017) Selfies, sexting, suicide and savagery: Welcome to the era of narcissism, you’ll be more likely to be able to give young people some healthy ingredients in order to make a nice cake.
In the meantime, let’s start the conversation with our young people – the pilot discussion cards are available for purchase by emailing me at email@example.com, for only $20 plus P&H. Research shows when questions such as those included in these cards are asked, the level of intimacy increases at a faster level.
In 2017, Now Generation is heading into schools around Australia to talk to children, parents and educators about these subjects. We’re looking forward to meeting you and starting the discussion.