Young people are under stress these days, more stress than ever before. Their lives are so much more insecure than past decades. There are millions of statistics out there that prove this, so I won’t info-bomb you with these details. I just want to say this; the young people in your life need you and you have a duty as a parent or relative to really, really listen to them, and care for them, in whatever way you can.
I have two young ones; young adults who have struggled and who I have given my full attention to. Without this love, I know they would have gone off the rails. I was them once. I had no support. I believe I was the first generation, post World War II, who experienced the massive insecurity of joblessness, homelessness and a life journey carved up by ultra-capitalism. This road of insecurity was/is long, and nothing matters except love and support.
I was in my mid-teens when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came to power. She was still in power when I left university and met homelessness and poverty bang on. I lived and breathed her market-forces non-society, which to me, is a shockingly softer version of what is at play now.
My two boys are now in their 20s and the world they inhabit is a harder world, it’s a scarier world, it’s a world that appears free of regulation but is suffocatingly oppressed; it’s a world that chants out about freedom and democracy but then smacks down rules wherever it can and seems incredibly undemocratic.
It’s a world that encourages ultra-capitalism and free market insanity, injects stress and anxiety into every waking moment, but allows no real alternative, not really.
For example, want to go and live off-grid in the UK, buy a little block of land and grow your own vegetables? No. You’ll come up against planning laws, and involvement from every department of whatever you can ever imagine.
Want a job in the UK? Fine, but you’ll be on zero hours contracts, on a minimum wage and you won’t be able to pay your rent or afford to eat.
Want to make a difference on social media? Be prepared to be laser-zapped down with online abuse and trolling.
If all this sounds negative, it is. Mental health issues among young people are at a record high. Your children, your adult children, your nieces and nephews, your young friends, the young people you work with all deserve some loving kindness, some real time spent listening to their concerns, their fears, their stresses.
I talk to my sons endlessly about life’s problems, their problems, offer solutions, support and more. It’s practically a full-time job. I was ignored as a young person, had no mental health support at university. It wasn’t heard of at that time. I struggled. It doesn’t’ have to be like this. Just learn to listen, really listen. Young people are angry. And I am angry for them.