Family and Relationship

Reclaiming our lost children

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The recent riots in the UK have stunned the whole nation. What was meant to be a peaceful protest by people demanding answers for the death of a young man shot by the police, spiralled into violence and looting that lasted for several days across the whole nation.

Parents of these young momentary thugs and society at large are now unavoidably asking themselves some very important questions. How can so many young people (and some not so young) act in such destructive and thoughtless ways for no apparent good cause?

Indeed, it all has been without a good cause, and for lack of such, we need to dig deeper. These young people have been brought up in a very different world than the one their parents knew as young people. The most significant difference is the electronic gadgets that have insinuated their invisible tentacles into our children’s lives in quite a detrimental way. Computer games, mobile phones and internet social sites have created an ever widening chasm between generations, by directly encouraging lack of communication between parents and children, as these lose themselves in their virtual life, at the detriment of interacting with real people in their own home. And yet, an ever growing and deepening communication between parent and child is extremely necessary for the constant passing on of morals, encouragement of good behaviour and also for the exchange of views, aspirations and hopes for the future that a child would normally want to share with the parents.

These young rioters displayed not only a lack of morals as they were looting, damaging and destroying other people’s property and livelihood; it also felt like their actions were filled with anger, resentment and frustration that needed to be expressed. We, as parents are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the instillation of morals into our children. It is not the responsibility of the State or the schools to carry out such an important task. And this is where open communication channels must be created and maintain between both generations. Parents are the ones who are to not only show a good example to their children through their own behaviour and moral stand, but must also explain to their offspring about the importance of respect for self and for others. Another crucial tool that parents must foster in their children is to think about the consequences of their action in all that they do in life. This cannot be stressed enough as being one of the pillars of success in life. Let us now imagine that all these young people would have been taught about respect for other people and their property, and how their thoughtlessness could have devastating, and maybe fatal consequences. I doubt very much that any of them would have even thought of starting a riot, setting buildings alight and stealing.

In addition to the thoughtlessness that our young people are afflicted with, there is a general climate of frustration and anger running through their lives, as the prospect of a bright future for them is rather dim. However, this is not an excuse to become a thug in the blink of an eye. These youngsters should be able to feel that however large their frustration may be, they should be able to turn to the older generation to share their concern with them, and that together, both parties could come up with satisfactory solutions that will give the young ones a much better chance in life.

Very sadly, future prospects for the ones who took part in the lootings have diminished greatly. With a criminal record to their names, many will see doors of opportunities shut in their faces for a very long time, if not forever. Not one of us, though, should say that it serves them right, as four fingers will point towards ourselves. If anything, parents and society at large should become more determined than ever to mend the enormous gap that we have allowed to grow between generations. We should also start to restore our own respect for young people and have more faith in their capacity to contribute positively in the world, and tell them so!

We must take their hands, and show them the way a little while longer, tell them that we believe in their ability to succeed, whilst respecting their own views and feelings. Despite their protests at not being children anymore, teenagers are facing an uncertain world and it is our duty to provide the pillars to support them, until they can make it on their own!

These riots have been a massive wake-up call for the older generations. It is obvious that we are failing our children.  It is now time to build and re-build new and better relationships with them, and we absolutely cannot afford to delay or to fail in this.

Isabelle Gravenstein

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