In the last few years and more of late, I have been told of families dealing with teenagers and kids in their 20s with serious drug addictions, mental health issues and even suicides.

It is disheartening. Just a week or so ago was an article and news on the suicide attempts on the Attawapiskat reserve life. This is a town of 2000 people, remote, removed and suffering. I believe there was a pact of 12 kids that agreed to suicide.

Lost hope?

Some might argue it is systemic in the lower income families and while I have no hard proof except what I see around me… this could not be further from the truth. The families I know of are middle to upper-income families, in some cases both parents working hard to give their children a better life than they had. Of course, what does that mean or look like. Does better mean materially better? I am not sure.

I have done a lot of research into the Millennial/Gen Y (born 1980 – 1995) and of recent the Gen Z/Founders (born 1995+) generations. There is now more comparison between these two groups. One of the areas of comparison are in child-rearing. Many of the Millennial/Gen Y are born to Baby Boomer parents who coddled and went out of their way to make life easier, better, smoother for their children vs. the Gen Z children in which the parents cover three generations Millennial (later years), Gen X and Boomers (second marriages, having children later – same for X) and there is more of an attitude, “figure it out”.

There are so many factors involved in the rise in these incidents than child-rearing. I believe the current economic state of our economy, lack of meaningful jobs, large debt, the cost to buy a home in Toronto has left many of these kids feeling lost and maybe even defeated. I imagine they came out of school wide-eyed and ready to partake in next part of their journey in life. Some found this path and many are struggling; not from lack of trying or intelligence.

As a parent we don’t want to see our children suffering.

I can only speak of my own experience of coming back into the workplace after 15 years and dealing with many of the struggles our youth face. It has been challenging. You have to create your destiny more than ever. It frustrates me when people say, “Start at the bottom and work your way up”. That is not how things work today. This does not really exist.

Without a sense of purpose and contribution to society we are taking away what I believe to be (part of) their self-worth. And this is important for their mental, physical and spiritual health.

What can we do? I believe that empowering our youth rather than doing things for them is much more valuable. Let’s give them the hard and soft skills sets that will able them to partake in the global economy. To do this we need all stakeholders at the table.

Before we look at the possible solutions we need to recognize there is a problem. How long are we prepared to wait? I was speaking with a friend of the family who was at a conference and we were talking about China and the one child-rule. She was telling us that many of the families send their children (sons) to Canada not only to become educated but to look for a partner/spouse.

Many if not all of the decisions we make have long-term impacts. Unfortunately it is the generations down the road that pay the price.
We, as a society, local and global, have a lot of questions and concerns that need to be addressed. This can no longer wait.

We need to move away from fear and paranoia. One story shocked and dismayed me. A Winnipeg stay-at-home mother of three (2, 5, and 10) allowed her two older children to play in the backyard, that is fenced in on their property, while she watched from inside, taking care of her 2 year-old. Someone called Child and Families Services, concerned about the children. To me that is the most ludicrous thing …. it is a dangerous and scary path if we go down this route.

Giving our children the opportunity to learn and grow, fall and fail is so vital to their success in life. Independence is a crucial part of the learning curve. If a child is being harmed or in danger I can understand calling CFS however not in this instance. It actually angered me.

I hope that we start to see movement back toward giving our children more independence, allowing them to flourish and grow as individuals. Otherwise, when pitted against the global world I am not sure how we will fare.

The people I know in life that seemed to thrive and do well were also the kids that had some struggle in their life and had to learn to deal with it.

I have no answers. I have suggestions and a lot of concerns. I do not want to see so many children suffering needlessly. Canada is a rich country by many standards. Things need to change.

An article… food for thought.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend. We are about to enter May … I can’t believe it.

All my love,

Sandra

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