Old people are always saying that the young are not what they were. The same comment is made from generation to generation and is always true; it has never been truer than it is today.
These days, grown-ups describe children as «difficult», «rude», «wild» and «irresponsible». Only some people say that they will grow up to make our country a better place.
For kids from 8 to 14 a new term «tweens» has recently been coined. They are no longer children nor yet teenagers, just between – tweens. They are said to be a generation in a fearful hurry to grow up. Instead of playing with Barbies and Lego they are interested in the vagaries of love on TV serials. Girls wear provocative make-up. At this very age kids start pairing off. Tweens have got an insatiable desire for the latest in everything – from jeans with labels so that everyone will know that they’ve got the latest stuff – to CDs. Kids at their age desperately need to belong and that’s why everything comes down to appearance. They think that having the right «stuff» is the quickest way to acceptance. To parents and teachers they can be a nightmare, aping the hairstyles, clothes and make-up of celebrities twice their age. Experts say that the rush to grow up is due to the mass media. Being raised by single-parent families as well as watching TV, which sucks up most of their free time, can also accelerate the desire of children for being independent and creates behaviour problems.
But the most painful part of childhood is the period when they begin to emerge from it: adolescence or the awkward age. There is a complete lack of self-confidence during this time. Adolescents are over conscious of their appearance and the impression they make on others. They feel shy, awkward and clumsy. Feelings are intense and hearts – easily broken. Teenagers experience moments of tremendous elation or black despair. And besides friends are becoming more and more important these yeas. At schools there are cliques who decide what is «cool». Adolescents may rebel violently against parental authority, but this causes them great unhappiness. And they are not always helped to get through a confusion of life in a steady, productive way. But even teenagers with sympathetic and supportive parents can fall in with bad company.
Most children don’t belong to any clubs and they just start roaming the street after school out of sheer boredom. A lot of them become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol because their life is hollow and they don’t think of life-long goals. They have nothing to fill the emptiness of their souls with. They demand to have all that they see, and regard it as their right to be entertained every waking moment.
And besides our society is becoming more and more stratified. There has appeared a class of rich people and a class of poor people (to be more exact – people leaving below the poverty line). Children of well-off parents consider themselves «the smart set» or «gilded youth». Their parents give them every material benefit, pocket money any time they ask. A lot of these children have their own brand-new cars and personal computers. It goes without saying that it causes jealousy and the desire to possess the same things on the part of children whose parents are poor and cannot afford it. Such feelings can push teenagers to committing a crime and it leads to a wide spread of juvenile delinquency.
Nowadays children start using computers very early. Tweens and teens are so fascinated by them that they spend hours and hours at their personal computers or at computer clubs. The electronic universe replaces their contacts with friends and dominates their life completely. Obsession with computers brings about a mechanical, disillusioned mentality and inhibits their emotional development.
The heads of youngsters are also being filled with violent pictures they have seen on TV. Children are very naive and impressionable. And no wonder that they are so aggressive and arrogant in real life. They are thrown into such a harsh world, especially if they live in a city. These days a lot of parents think that they should be lenient with their children, they should let them find out about life for themselves, they should leave children to develop their own idea of right and wrong. But it’s a grave mistake.
Parents should try to protect their children from possible bad influences and give them clear guidance about right and wrong. There is no way to predict how today’s children will turn out. Keeping faith in kids is necessary. They are not bad. They are optimistic. They expect to have a better life than their parents’. And grown-ups – if they are prepared to admit it – could learn a thing or two from their children. One of the biggest lessons they could learn is that enjoyment is not «sinful». Enjoyment, is a principle you could apply to all aspects of life. It is not wrong to enjoy your work and enjoy your leisure, to shed restricting inhibitions. It is surely not wrong to live in the present rather than in the past or future. This emphasis on the present is only to be expected because the young have grown up under the constant threat of World War III, which means complete annihilation. This is their «glorious» heritage. Can we be surprised that they question the wisdom and sanity of their elders?