In the first 10 days of 2018 I’ve been doing quite a lot of pondering. One of those was about resilience and are we teaching our children it?
Last year we heard a lot about the snowflake generation. How they are so easily offended at just about everything, how they need a trigger warning when they read/watch/listen to anything with content that may cause distress/offense etc. They came in for a pretty rough time, but actually I’ve come to realise that it’s just not millennials that suffer with snowflake syndrome, it’s all of us these days.
We seem to have lost the ability of ‘resilience’. The official definition of resilience is as follows; the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. So many people these days seem to wallow, to allow themselves to feel overly wronged, offended or just generally resentful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should all go around ignoring every time we are justifiably hurt/offended etc, but really I think it’s time we all manned up in 2018!
Many years ago, after the birth of my 4th child, I was in a ward where we’d all had c-sections. The lady to my left was the first out of bed, mainly because she wanted to go for a smoke. Quickly followed by myself. Shortly after the lady to my right, and two ladies opposite all got out of bed and started to go about the business of caring for our newborns. However, one lady was still in bed a day later. Despite the midwives telling her that she had to get out of bed, she wailed and whined that she just couldn’t and how jealous she was of us all who had already been able to get up. In the end an older midwife dispensed some tough love, and after much drama she did indeed get out of bed. Now you might jump to the conclusion that this was a young girl, but it wasn’t. Even after she was up and about, she would say how bad her c-section was, how awfully she’d been treated by the midwife and that no one cared about her well-being. During conversation one day, one of the ladies in the bay casually mentioned that she’d had her c-section to save her life. She’d been found collapsed at home, and it was all a bit of an emergency. You’d have thought that would have put an end to Wailing Wendy, but oh no. She she upped her efforts. Did she get any more sympathy, no did she heck. We all ended up just ignoring her, despite her continually stating she was making a formal complaint.
You have to have perspective. We cannot control other people’s actions, but we can choose to be offended or not. The world is not a pleasant place, people kill each other, people hurt each other, and in the days of social media, people say horrid things all too easily. None of those things are right, and yes we can feel angry or sad, but why should we demand trigger warnings or feel offended by information people have written? Why should I have the right to demand a trigger warning on an article about sexual assault, and feel offended when there isn’t one? And before everyone jumps on me and says that I’ve never been in that position. I have. I read the article and I feel empathy and sadness for that person. Do I remember my own incident? Of course I do. Do I hope that she heals in time and gets any help that she might need? Yes I do. Do I feel offended that the article was written and published? No I absolutely do not! I hope that it educated people that sexual assault is not ok, in any capacity or in any situation.
Resilience starts with children. When my children fall over and scrape their knee, some people may say I’m callous or removed. But the fact is, it’s a scrape. They haven’t lost the use of their leg, or indeed lost their leg. It will heal within a few days, so when my children fall, I pick them up, I brush them off and encourage them to carry on. If they make a fuss, I ignore them. When they calm down I explain to them it’s merely a scrape, it will heal. When my children experience disappointment, or are having a falling out with a friend I treat it as a life lesson. I don’t text parents (as I’ve heard other parents do) and try to intervene. I let it play out its course, let them find the solution. If my children are disappointed, we explore the reasons for their disappointment. If they didn’t achieve the marks in a test they wanted, we explore why. And yes if they didn’t revise/work hard enough, we highlight that. If they get upset about trivial things, I don’t play ball. I am trying to teach them that not everyone will agree with them as they go through life. This doesn’t mean that they are wrong, or stupid or ill educated. It simply means that they view something from a different stand point. If you listen to these people and not try to shout them down, it leads to interesting conversation, and you might learn something. In turn this might change your point of view, but of course it might not. They are still not wrong, and you have no right to be offended by their difference of opinion.
Am I trying to toughen my children up, yes I am. But I’m also trying to teach my children to see the whole picture and not to be too focused on themselves. That they will not get their own way all the time, that things will go wrong, they will be wronged, but you HAVE to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and carry on. Just to point out I am sensitive to their needs when it’s needed and I’m not a totally cold/removed Mum!
Simon Sinek talks about the “Millenial Problem” and one of the points he makes is that the younger generations see the point that they want to be at, but are incapable of seeing the journey. I think this is a symptom of lack of resilience. People these days want instant gratification, instant justice. However, even if those things are achieved we still have to resolve ourselves. And this is where it all goes wrong.
The elderly that I’ve nursed over the years have said over and over again “in the grand scheme of things.” These people have been through some truly horrific things over the course of their lives, and yet talk to most of them and they’ll say things like “in the grand scheme of things I still had my health and family.” Maybe we need to move back towards this, and teach our children perspective which in turn leads to resilience. Which will lead to them not demanding trigger warnings on educational articles, that maybe disturbing, emotional, distressing and hard to read but may change the way they think about the world. Resilience will lead to education institutions having to get rid of these ridiculous “safe rooms” where they don’t have to listen to conflicting opinion and avoid passionate discussion about worldly topics. We cannot allow our young people, our children, to continue to live in this self-absorbed bubble. The older generations MUST NOT allow themselves to be sucked into this bubble, and we must not facilitate it either.
And if we do, we are heading into a very troubled world.