YOUTH LEADERS/PARENT FORUM
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY YOUTH AND PARENTHOOD MENTORING
The twenty-first century has brought with it great challenges for the family – the parents and their children face challenges which the older generation did not face. The century can be characterized by the prophecy in Daniel 12:4 – “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase”. Knowledge has increased tremendously in the last few decades.
Characteristics of the twenty-first century
Knowledge in almost every area of human life and activity has increased at an exponential rate. In he area of medicine and human health, man has been able to eradicate or tame the diseases that have claimed lives of children. Parents are no longer plagued by the fear of infant mortality. This has led to reduction in the number of children a family bears. Increase in knowledge has also brought revolution to information and communication. The whole world has been reduced to a “small village”. Information is transmitted almost live and the internet has brought knowledge to everyone’s living room, and in fact to one’s palm through the use of smart phones.
In centuries before this century, most people live and die within tens of kilometers around their place of birth. Late in the twentieth century and now in the twenty-first century, fast means of transport has made human mobility very easy. Probability of migrating to far countries has become common place. This has brought about break down in societal norms and cultures – inter-tribal marriages have become common; children find it difficult to understand and accept the norms their patents hold dear; the extended family support has almost completely broken down. In the twenty-first century, many children growing up are not first generation educated people in their families. Parents try to shield their children from the hardship and penury they experience growing up. Except in some societies, the children enjoy provision of health, educational and societal facilities and some higher level of comfort than their parent.
Understanding the Twenty-first Century Youth
The twenty-first century youth is highly exposed to knowledge and very technologically savvy. He is likely to know more about technology than his parents. He is likely to feel he is wiser and better exposed than his parents. He is more likely to reject his parents’ advice and counsel; thinking his parents are dated and are of “old school”. The twenty-first century is more likely to seed advice from his peers rather than from his parents or other adults. The youth has unlimited access to the internet with lots of useful and also lots of dangerous information on the web. The youth also has the opportunity to seek for counsel or solution to his problem on the internet. However he lacks the experience to know which counsel or information is profitable and which one can result in disaster.
The attitude will probably lead the youth to take wrong and sometimes disastrous decisions that can wreck his/her destiny. He is exposed to all manners of societal ills – both of those ills which are prevalent in his immediate neighborhood and the ills that are imported from abroad. Through the electronic and printed media, youths are the target of various forms of perversion being peddled in the guise of civilization, human rights, and what the society regards as success. The youth is being told by the media to throw away parental, societal and religious restraints. Pornography and illict drugs are made easily accessible.
The twenty-first century youth is not likely to have experienced the hardship and privation his parents passed through. He often lacks the motivation to succeed in his academics. His focus is likely on enjoying the pleasures around him. He is likely to spend his precious time playing or watching games on the TV; long hours discussing with friends on the phone or chatting on the social media. Even those who have no access to these luxuries are likely envious of those who have, and are likely looking for shut-cuts to enjoying the luxuries. He likely detests hard work; and cannot see the need for it. Unfortunately the youths, especially those in developing countries, often notice the leaders in government enrich themselves illegally; and therefore lose the motivation for honest work in getting rich.
Many of the twenty-first century youths also face frustration and discouragement. World-wide economic collapse has made securing good employment almost impossible. Rate of unemployment among the youths is very high. Most are either unemployed or under-employed. Seeing older siblings who have graduated and who have not secure jobs, destroys the motivation to want to excel in school. Many are confused and do not know what to do.
Parenthood-Mentoring of the Twenty-first Century Youths
It is not easy for parents to mentor the twenty-first century youth. Parents that have the potential to successfully mentor these youths are those that are endowed with the wisdom of God. The youth needs wisdom of God to navigate his ship through dangerous oceans of life. The parents’ goal should therefore be foremost to establish the youth in the knowledge and the fear of God. Danger of falling into ungodly ways of thinking and ungodly lifestyles increases by the day. Unfortunately, the youths tend to have more confidence in what their peers tell them and in what they read on the internet than in their godly parents’ advice.
Parents who will successfully mentor the twenty first century youth must first be strong at the prayer altar. The battle over the life and destiny of the youth is not one against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness sent by the devil to recruit the next generation into his army. Most of the ungodly messages, advertisement and information are targeting the youths. The battle for their souls is best fought at the prayer altar rather than through arguments and quarrels. Parents must first capture the souls of these youths for Christ through prayers.
Parents must not be intimidated by their not being as technologically savvy as the youths. Parents should not develop the attitude that the children are wiser than the parents because they youth are more knowledgeable. First, parents should take time to understand all that is going on around them, that is, must make effort and spend time to improve their understanding of the technology advancement. They can seek advice and counsel from the more educated around them. Parents should not be cowered because their children are more educated. Being educated does not necessarily equate to being godly wise.
Parents who will successfully mentor the children when they have grown to become youths will begin to interact with the children very early in life. Parents spend most of their time trying to make money to educate and provide for their children, but end up having little or no time to be friends with the children. The children also end up trusting their peers more than they trust the parents. The door of possibility to mentor the children slowly closes as the children become youths. By the time the parents decide to get close to the children to impart their values, the children are no longer available or interested.
Parents also need realize that mentoring takes time and does not end. Even when it appears the youth is not interested, the parents should persist in trying to get across through discussions, prayer for the child and finding possible avenues of communication. Sometimes it may be necessary to enlist the help of some adult that the youth respects.
Areas of Parenthood-Mentoring
Parents need to mentor their children to fear God and to commit themselves to obeying His commandments. Without the parents’ support Joseph feared and obeyed God in the foreign land. Parents however have to lead by example. What the parents do speak louder than what they preach. The family altar is a great place to come across to the children on what the parents believe. It is a place to teach children to lay the foundation of their live on God. It is a place to ingrain in the child to take prayer seriously.
Parents need to mentor this century’s youth on diligent work in order to reap lasting rewards. The society has abandoned the work ethics that was the norm some decades ago. Now, people no longer care how the wealthy come about their wealth. The youth have not been taught to pursue the path of diligent labor in order to succeed. Christian parents need to instill in their youths the necessity of achieving success through honest work. Youth should also be mentored in how to generate and manage wealth.
Parents need to mentor their children to have strong and godly family ideals. Males should be taught how to grow into responsible and God-fearing husbands and fathers. Females should be trained in how to be dutiful loving wives and mothers. Parents should not shy away from giving sex education to the children at the appropriate age. When parents fail in this regard, children will learn through what their peers tell them and in most cases fall as preys to woves in sheep clothing.