Are the youth of today a lost generation? If the answer is yes, then the question to be asked is why is this so? Attempts to seek an answer may provide valuable insight into the condition of society today. Human development, from conception to death, is at the same time both continuous and varied. Human needs have changed little through time but research suggests that our experiences shape the person we become. Young people within society are at the mercy of their experiences. Baffled by excesses of choice and unsure of where to place their trust, this group are most vulnerable to the negatives at work in society.
Today's countless opportunities are often compromised by the pressures of twenty-first century living. Motivated by celebrity culture and material success, parents struggle to raise their children in a society without an established structure of values. Self-esteem seems to be at an all time low and our young people move through their childhood in a haze, bombarded by influences which create confusion and make happiness difficult to attain.
Young people today grow into a world of drug culture where escape from reality lies in the misuse of substances. As children we are often fascinated by those who are just a few years older than we are as we know that we will soon be able to move into that place. We watch closely and decide which of this "next generation" we wish to emulate and wait with impatience until time moves us on. Eventually we follow on to become parents and grandparents constantly shaped along the way by the world in which we are living and our experiences.
Integral to our human existence is that we belong to an evolving universe. The part played by fate or chance in our lives cannot be changed. However, we do need to pay more attention to young people - we need to listen to them, provide for their needs and indulge them with our love and care, ensuring that they feel valued, realize their strengths and are able to take both praise and criticism with good grace.
Life is not a dress rehearsal and those of us who are closely involved in the lives of young people, whether as parents or in a professional capacity, do the best we can with what resources we have. We cannot afford to believe that the youth of today are a lost generation. Rather, we must ensure that the youth of today are not marginalized and neglected but feel that they are valued and that their voices are heard, never forgetting that the future for all of us lies with the youth of today.