What are we doing wrong?
Children raping unconscious girls. Taping it. Thinking its ok. Funny. Social media worthy.
We like to blame “this generation”. This computer grabbing, technology zombied, privileged youth.
But we need to look further than that. Because this entire generation was created out of the feeling that we are not enough.
That we need to be successful to be worthy.
Be accepted by our peers to be seen.
Have accomplishments to turn up to events.
We could blame the lack of fear. The lack of conscription, the lack of real, threats. Maybe we were bred to be fearful and logic cannot work out why we are fearful, so we just fear we are not enough.
We know there must be something to be feared so this is what it must be.
We have great anxiety and an incredible amount of depression, despite all we have, despite the material goods and accomplishments we thought would save us from it.
Our children sense this. Through their parents making them spend endless amounts of time at activities and none helping around the house. Through them giving them every gadget known to man then calling them spoiled. Through parents false confidence in them that they are going to “make the team” “win the race” “get the girl”.
They feel like they are not enough. They flail. They know nothing but the need for approval. The need to take action. The need to take control. The need to shine. Otherwise – are they even here at all?
Our girls are showing more and more skin asking themselves is this ok? Am I liked if I do this? Don’t do this?
Our boys are bewildered. Society have such big expectations of teenagers and sex. Are they getting enough? Too old not to get any? Doing it right.
It is a society set up, only to reward those who get themselves “seen”. It is a society filled with “I’s” instead of “we’s”.
We are desperate for our children to find their gifts to achieve, to accomplish, to be seen.
In yogic wisdom this means we are missing two of the most important steps that come after finding our gifts and using them, they are:
3. Disregard the fruits of action.
4. Surrender to God.
So in modern day terms we can see step three as giving our gifts to the world and not worrying about the status/ money/ financial reward we get. Worrying less about what we get and worrying more about how we are contributing to the world and whether that is making us happy/making a difference/giving us purpose.
Surrender to God can mean surrendering to something bigger than yourself. The creative power that gave you the gifts in the first place. The creative power that dictates that you can make a difference in this way.
So what to do?
Despite all of our anxiety and control around the issue of parenting – our worst nightmare has come true – we are parenting wrong.
We are creating a society of individuals all trying to climb over each other to be seen as special. Instead of people looking at their own gifts and what makes them special they are looking to those that are given special status and trying to emulate. Originality is dissipating and uniqueness is being quashed.
We aren’t asking our children how they have been helping others, we are asking them, very clearly, how they are helping themselves.
Instead of asking them how kind they have been today and placing value on it, we are asking them how many friends they have, concerned more about the possibility of lack than our children making a difference.
We ask them about their grades, their scores, but not what they have learned.
We ask them about what they want to be when they grow up, instead of how they are going to make a difference in the world.
We are taking natural problem solvers and making them the problem to be solved.
We tell them to hit back if they get hit. Which is essentially telling them to hurt if they get hurt. Like if a girl rejects them – hurt back right?
We blame others instead of ourselves. Our boss, the drivers on the road, politicians and we do not take responsibility for our actions. How do we tell them to do something we are not doing?
We talk and gossip about others. Name call. I hear it in adult conversation every single day. Then we are surprised when our children do the same. Surprised when our children bully.
We are taking their fresh eyes and telling them that the world is this way and they have to look at it only like this.
We avoid talking to them about awkward things like sex, consent, porn, about the feelings they will have and how to know right from wrong, kindness from pressure. Avoidance seems like the better option.
They hear the under-current of sexist jokes and jokes about sex from the adults around them but are too young too understand the difference between jokes and action. But young enough to understand that these “jokes” are our societies way of consenting despicable behaviour towards women.
This is what we are doing wrong.
How do we fix what is broken?
It starts with us. Having honest conversations with our partner about how to raise children. Talking about boundaries, discipline, how to breech awkward topics, how to encourage our children to think about others.
Then we need to take inspired action:
More time spent talking with our kids and less ferrying them to activities
Exemplifying values such as giving, loving, kindness in our own houses
Asking them questions that encourage discussion on the value of learning, not just the accomplishments.
Encouraging our children to think about bigger things than just what they are going to gain from a situation.
Taking our learned behaviours and changing them.
But the first step is to talk about this. Discuss with others.
Am I right?
Can you do something to improve the situation right now? Rectify wrongs? Move forward.
We need to educate ourselves and learn to be better ourselves and then we can pass it down to our kids and not only ensure they are better people, but guarantee their happiness in a way that status and material goods never will.
We can’t blame parents. We can’t blame ourselves. We can’t know what we didn’t know. Blame is an out, blame is a band-aid that we can put on a wound to pretend it is fixed.
What we do is we take responsibility. We show up in the world this way. Everyday.
And tomorrow we will be better.