Understanding young people

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

The Gray Line Tour – Leonard Gray

One of the biggest challenges confronting America is right in front of them – their children. Parents attempt to relate, or at least comprehend, their bewildering offspring. Retailers try to latch onto the coming trends. Even newspapers seek ways to draw the coming generation of subscribers.

The fact remains, though, that the older generation is generally clueless as to the challenges facing today’s youth.

I don’t have children, which on the face of it, would seem to make me even more clueless. I do listen to a lot of music also enjoyed by people in their teens, 20s and early 30s. making me something of an oddity among my generation, as my tastes range from Godsmack to Evanescence. However, I am not “kewl,” nor can I acquire coolness by any means. I’m old, therefore, I’m clueless.

Parents are at a loss, not comprehending the nuances of text-messaging, body jewelry and smileys. They see anime as simply bad cartooning. The absolute necessity of certain brand-name clothes and shoes is lost on most parents.

Many retailers trying to create “the latest thing” usually end up providing the culturally-hip youth of America with a considerable fount of amusement. Movies and music are a world apart from what my generation enjoyed.

While we may look at downloaded music as essentially copyright theft, the youth armed with internet-access computers (and aren’t they all?) see downloaded music as an inalienable right and are totally blind to any perception of ethics violation.

And, any young person without a computer, linked with camera and microphone, along with a camera-cellular phone with text-messenging capability, is most certainly a slave to his parents and not worth knowing.

Have heart. There will always be things our young people will need us for, and not only for the credit cards. They need the benefit of our experience in getting through this life. They need guidance, affection, attention and love. They need someone to listen. They need discipline and limits.

They need someone to tell them, without question, that certain things are always wrong. Likewise, certain other things are always right. The difference isn’t hard to make. The struggle comes in keeping the avenues of communication open.

We need to know what they are up to, who they are doing it with and if they know the consequences of poor choices they make. They need to endure certain bad things to realize parents cannot protect them from everything and will not always bail them out of every difficulty.

It’s all a part of life, and we’re all in this together, young and old.

LEONARD GRAY is managing editor of L’Observateur. He may be reached at (985) 652-9545.