‘What’s changed? Kids today aren’t living, they’re just existing’

Jun 18, 2019
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What adventures were you having in your 20s? Source: Pexels

What were you doing in your 20s? By the time I was 20, I was married and by 24 I was on my way back to England with my husband and 2.5 children. In 1959, when we married, I was 19, we had travelled out on the Rangitoto to New Zealand via Panama, and then were on our way back with said offspring and an ‘almost cooked’ new baby. Our return was through the Suez, so we had circumnavigated the world. I had also overcome a serious illness; managed to survive two births and found it not at all daunting. We had bought a house, and struggled to keep afloat on one wage. My husband was 27, so he too might — by today’s standards — be wet behind the ears.

Dreadful things happened because we were so young. When we sold the house, I told the people they could move in because they said they wanted to! When my husband came home he pointed out there were still four weeks before we’d sail. We had to live in a caravan for weeks. It was a demanding time with two toddlers and being pregnant.

I wonder how it compares with young people today, our grandchildren’s lives even? If you think back to when you were 18, 21 or 25, could you say you were still living at home or were you off travelling the world and exploring? When I compare the experiences my husband and I had in our early years to that of my grandchildren today it makes me realise just how young we really were.

I love all my grandchildren and know they are beautiful and bright and loving, which is the most important thing. If they are loving and caring nothing much else matters. Yet, they have not all ‘fledged’, and taken wing on their own. Two have recently done so, it happened in the last year or so, they are in their 20s. One is still at home at 23.

Some of them seem ill-equiped to manage life on their own, and it all starts because we care too much. I suppose we want to keep them safe and keep them close, we make them too afraid to take a stand, make brave moves, and get out there. I know the way it is now — rents are huge and they don’t earn much, but how many stories could our generation tell of staying in draughty rooms with a few other students or living in a freezing bedsit? I bet there are many of you could tell such stories. They become funny once the decades have passed.

My own children were gently encouraged to go out and try their luck, they all had jobs, and two had partners, when they left us at around age 18. They worked and lived in cheap rooms or bedsits. Sometimes love went wrong and a sad and sorry child came home to lick their wounds, but in general they never lived at home for extended periods after their initial launch. In spite of many ups and downs and changes in our place of living, we are still loving and caring, still a family. One lives in Devon in the United Kingdom and two live in Australia.

There have been dramas, to be expected, as we are all human. The main thing is we know our way of life is never going to be their way, we have two very sensible children who have been very successful in their choices and their management, including money! I wish my husband and I were half as good… Perhaps we should get the kids to teach us!

One child is our crazy one, but is fantastic company, lives life at a fast pace, has had many mistakes that caused him severe problems, yet he is always caring and is the one we know will visit us if we are ever in hospital.

I wonder why some of the children today are hanging back, not living, just existing. I do know of some who have gone to far flung places, who have worked in Cambodia, cared for the sick in Africa and made a difference wherever they were. They are the shining lights, the beacons. It makes me despair when it seems all we have presented to us every week are children who are ‘stars’, whose only virtue is a voice or a dance move. I wonder if perhaps this is why the young people are losing their focus.

I would like to think there are more of the active and less of the passive ‘star worshippers’. There is more to life than the fame on TV. I love music by the way and am an avid fan of contemporary music too. I have the honour of being a ‘groupie’ for several local bands. I attend concerts and open mic locally.

However, it makes me proud when I look back and see myself at 18. I was a student nurse in a psychiatric hospital, which was no picnic, yet I loved it. I even made the decision to stay in the nursing accommodation despite living close to the hospital, it was my bid for freedom. I wish today’s young ones would make their freedom too.

What were you doing in your teen years? Do you think the youth of today leads too sheltered a life and needs to get out and explore?

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