Recently, an article about the generation Z (Those who were born from 1995 to present) (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/get-ready-for-generation-z/) was published online and I was surprised at how the author highly regarded the generation that are raised today. It featured young people and teens who became famous because of their scientific discoveries and significant contributions in the society. At such a young age, they have become a symbol of great hope for the coming generation. In the article, the generation Z was highlighted that they might be the ones who will save the earth and humanity from its deterioration.
However, it’s also a bit surprising that this is not what I observe with the young people that I deal with every day at work, in the streets, at the church and at the school. While the western continent has this perception, I don’t observe it as a prevalent mental inclination among the youth even in the urban cities of the Philippines. Many of the teens today as I observe it are “self” people – self-absorbed, self-centered and self-serving, seeking only to satisfy themselves. This, if I am right might be because of the change in parenting practices, improved economic conditions of families and technological advances.
Nevertheless, I still remain positive. Even some foreign financial firms have encouraging forecasts about the economic growth of the Philippines putting us in the top 10 and top 20 of their rankings in the next decades. But whatever is behind that positive outlook, what will happen in the coming years depends on how the teens behave today.
In the last eight years of teaching college, I have observed patterns and behaviours that distinguishes those who failed from those who succeeded. From these, there are five things I believe that teens today should not miss and forget, and parents as well should instill and build in their children.
What teens should not Forget:
1. Decide early what and where they want to be. As early as adolescence, we must help them decide what they want and where they want to be. Deciding it earlier will give them more time to prepare, train and build themselves. Those who are at the top of their career and excellent in their professions have undergone years of training that started when they were yet teenagers dreaming of what they will become. The more time of preparation gives greater chance of achievement. Most of the people I knew who are struggling and not happy with their careers were typically those who had no clear direction in their life when they were younger. They have let the quickness of time overrun them undecided and unprepared until it was too late. And worst, many companies or employment institutions today choose the younger talents over the older ones.
2. Discover and develop their skills. Some of the employment problems that our nation faces today are unemployment, underemployment and employment of workers that doesn’t have the right skill set or qualification. Apparently, many are working on jobs that they are not trained for while some are forced to settle on jobs that they’re more than trained for.
As early as now, we must help them discover their natural skills and develop it. According to a research, a person’s natural talent may become evident as early as the adolescent years. As they discover at an earlier time what they are gifted with, there will be a longer time for them to be trained, as well as to focus on doing things that will add value to their skill and enhance their capabilities. The same applies, even to those who believes that natural talent is a myth. A young person who has a talent (Or wants to learn) in culinary can start training himself to become a great chef. He can start reading books about food and cooking, learn how to cook various meals and expose himself to activities that has something to do with culinary. Sadly, many teens today are hooked on many things that does not actually prepare them for their dream. They spend their time and resources on things that will only make them feel good and on improving their self-image. Many use technology, the internet and other potential learning and knowledge resources for entertainment and fun. I do not intend or recommend to prohibit teens from having fun, but to encourage them to give importance and priority to more important things.
Researches show that teens have needs such as Identity and acceptance that drives them to do what they do, and sadly for this reason, they tend to find it in unlikely places and peers that drives them away from reaching their potentials and from being a productive citizen in the society. However, I believe that with the right time and guidance, they can be taught. If we want to preserve the world we live in, we must rear the young people in the way they should go, teach them and protect them from learning the corrupt ways that’s been creeping from generations.3. Abstain from sexual activity.
Researches again reveal the alarming inclusion of many married and unmarried teenagers in the list of those who; are infected with sexually transmitted infections and diseases, have unwanted pregnancies, and are engaging in pre-marital sex. Each year at the university, there are some who stops and drops out from college because they got pregnant. Though some still continue attending the university despite their bulging bellies, they obviously are having a hard time.
I was invited once to talk to college students about making wise choices, and when I asked them to raise their hands to signify their choice between PMS without condom or PMS with condom or Abstinence, there were more hands who agreed with PMS with condom, few chose abstinence while majority were undecided. I was a bit surprised for I was expecting that Pinoys in Palawan are more conservative, but if I were to interpret their answers, they seem to have been influenced with the western culture which I think is heavily present in the environment and media that they are exposed to.
So why should they abstain:
1. Sex is for married couple.
2. Pre-marital sex brings a lot of risks to health and emotion that distracts focus, and puts down self-value.
3. Pre-marital sex affects their future married life and relationship with their spouse. Many divorcees have past unsuccessful romance and relationships.
I believe that young people has the ability to choose and reason. Just as how a person decides to brush his teeth to protect it from plaque and bad breath, anyone can also choose not to engage in risky behaviours and pre-marital sex. Nevertheless, many still believe that sex is a need that has to be fulfilled. They stand behind the reason that young people has no control to these desires and that “boys will always be boys”. To them, for a teenager to have sex is inevitable. Others further justify that sex is for unmarried couples too. According to them, sex is an expression of love, and is a normal thing to do between couples who love each other regardless of being married or not – this obviously is morally wrong. However, there are many persons I know who have gone through these “seemingly-uncontrollable” stage who remained virgin, pure and unstained until marriage. They just held on to what they believe is right and was able to successfully withstand the test of lust.
That is why the youth needs guidance. We must expose them to things that will really help them achieve their dreams and maximum potential, help them understand that not all that they want to do is beneficial and that there is a time for everything. Here is a link of Pinoy celebrities who vowed no sex until marrriage.(http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/entertainment/09/03/14/5-celebs-who-vowed-no-sex-until-marriage)
4. Honor and Love their parents.
Another important thing every teenager must not neglect, is to honor and love their parents. Many broken dreams, distorted perception about life, failures of students, and increase of juvenile delinquents is attributed to dysfunctional families.
It is important to restore harmonious family relationships and it will happen when we love and honor our parents. Parents became the means in order for every child to see the light of the world. Our mom carried us in their womb for nine long months while our father toiled at work to sustain our needs and care for our mom. When we were born, they fed, loved and raised us.
On the other hand, many parents are irresponsible making their kids hate them. More likely, those kind of parents didn’t honor their parents because their parents too were irresponsible. They can only give what has been given to them. However this cycle need not to continue. It can be stopped, and the cycle will be broken if we choose to start it. We can still honor and love our parents without compromising the truth, values and moral regardless of how they are. If we start honoring and loving them now, the society we’ve been longing for, where peace and harmony exists will happen soon.
5. Fear and honor God.
Above all, the most important thing that every young person must develop in his life is to fear and honor God.
I believe that the Bible is the ultimate source of guidance on how a person can be connected to His creator.
One of the greatest questions a person will ask is, why on earth is he here? What’s his purpose? I believe that in order to understand the purpose of our existence, we must go back to God and relate with Him. We must Know Him, and only in knowing Him that we will realize the meaning of Life. A piece of art can only be interpreted well by the artist who created it and a machine’s use can only best be told by its inventor. In the same way, God – who gave us our life is the only one who can tell us how to live. We may see others who are living their dreams even without involving God, but they’re not truly happy or are not fulfilled. But when our dreams align with God’s dream for us, it will result to true peace and contentment that surpasses all understanding and into something more than we have imagined.
Before us, is a world of uncertainty, possible deterioration and bleak hope. Behind us, are young people that are hooked on things that thwarts their eyes away from thinking and looking ahead. Apathy should have no place for such a time as this, let us all help put back into their hearts the right moral and values, passion for fellow men, love for God and altitudinal fervor to make the world a better place.