We might not be ready, but we will adapt
I am away from my parents a lot so I am effectively being an adult, instead of just indulging in role playing, but I feel there is still a disconnect at some places where my parents step in. For example, if I want to move into an apartment my parents would come and pay for the rent. But when it comes to academics I have to take care of things myself.
As long as you don’t work, this is something that will happen — your parents will have to step in to pay the bill. This is why I am trying to decide what to do next — continue pushing away adulthood and do a postgraduate degree or get a job.
In a lot of situations parents might be overprotective, where they intentionally take away some of the responsibilities that they might have had to take up in their lives. I have seen both sides of the coin. I know of a few of my friends who moved back home after they graduated to be closer to their parents, because they don’t feel they are ready to face what life might throw at them. But at the same time, I have friends who go away from their parents — they have the urge to become independent and take up jobs even while they are studying.
Today’s generation is a lot more focussed, they know exactly what to do to get to where they want to be. So, they are more prepared mentally to take on those challenges. More importantly, we are able to adapt. So, even if we are faced with situations we aren’t prepared for we will have to find a way to tackle what life throws at us. Most of us will adapt.
From Mr Ritvik Sinha
Student of astrophysics and English literature in the US
Parents and teachers need to step up
I have interacted with students from many cultural backgrounds — Indian, Emirati and pan Arab expats. When I was in Muscat, I exclusively interacted with Omani students so my experiences are based on this demographic. In some of my interactions with expatriate students, I observed that they were very reluctant to take responsibilities. They were virtually in that space where they felt, “Why should I take these responsibilities?” The responsibility has to be somebody else’s — either the parents at home and professors or teachers at university.
But when I shifted to Muscat, I was completely swept away by the sense of responsibility in the students. I would have my class at 8.30am and by 8.25am everybody would be seated in my class. I was mesmerised by their mannerism, behaviour, conduct and punctuality.
But in my interaction with some other students, I felt that they were not acquainted with the realities of life. I won’t say that the family and schools failed, but somewhere they were not able to discharge their responsibilities towards their children.
The family as the primary agency of soclialisation inculcates the basic values of life and that happens in the day-to-day interactions within the family. It is not necessary that I have to go to the child and tell them what to do. It also happens when I talk to my wife and my son is sitting in the backseat, listening to us.
I would not blame students because if I don’t tell the child what is right and wrong, where will he acquire those values? Either from his peer group or the media.
So, saying that young adults are not willing to take up the responsibilities of adulthood is not a myth, a lot depends on the role played by the family.
I feel that parents nowadays are living in constant guilt that they are not able to give their child what they should give them. And in order to compensate, they end up negotiating with their children.
Teachers, too, need to understand that if they have taken up teaching, by default they have taken a social responsibility because they are preparing individuals for the future.
From Dr Mohammad Firoz
Associate professor in media sociology working with University of Wollongong
Don’t try to fit millennials in the old mould
And so it goes the timeless badgering of one generation by its predecessors: how many of us have heard “back in my day we used to do things x way which is infinitely superior to the way things are done now”. X, the unknown variable in this case being general ‘adulting’.
Who defines ‘adult’? The things that our grandparents were capable of doing and considered daily activities are not part of our parent’s routine. My great grandmother milled wheat and made bread at home; my grandmother had a maid to make the bread because of the economic progress of the state; my mother bought bread from the grocery store because she’s too busy with other tasks to make it herself and I eat rice and don’t even have bread in the kitchen because I’m intolerant to wheat. You would point at me and say: “Ah, here’s another millennial that doesn’t even have bread in the kitchen – back in my day, women made bread at home.” And here is the problem: the millennial bashing bandwagon fails to acknowledge economic and social changes that have occurred over the generations. It is a matter of priorities, not abilities.
It is not about whether you make your bed in the morning or can make chicken a la king from scratch – it is about whether you can secure a position in college – preferably excelling enough for a scholarship so you don’t have to work to pay your tuition – and then eventually securing a job in the increasingly competitive world. Social norms are being redefined and that’s okay with the millennials, this is who we are. We are a generation of memes and unabated irony flowing from our fingers and engulfing cyberspace. Yet we are also a generation of mental health problems like never before. The definition of an adult varies from time and generation and to fence a generation into the understanding of the old is counterproductive.
From Ms Safa Jamshed
Dental college student living in Melbourne, Australia
The curious case of an ‘eight-year-old adult’
The other day, I had a chance to meet an ‘eight-year-old adult’ while travelling in the Metro. The little one was travelling alone and was using his iPhone very seriously. It aroused my curiosity so when I got a chance, I asked him about his whereabouts and he told me that he was travelling from Deira to Karama to study. I asked him if he was alone and he got annoyed at the question. For him, he was old enough to travel alone anywhere he wanted in Dubai. Gradually, I extracted the following information from him – that his father usually escorts him but only on the first few day to show him the way. Then on, he travels on his own.
Eventually, I asked him about the phone, and his answer caught me off guard.
He said, “Why? I bought it with my money!” I asked him what he meant by ‘his money”. He explained that his mother had set rules for her two children — if they wanted to buy something for themselves they had to earn it. He said that his mother had set some value points and if he earned 10 value points, he would get Dh20. So, he would do household chores like folding the entire family’s clothes and keeping them in their respective places. He had been doing this for the last two years and had saved Dh900! His mother contributed another Dh100 and here he was with his iPhone.
But this is an isolated incident, of course!
Parents are failing to nurture the much required self-reliance in their children by coddling them. Everyone is focussed on reach the pinnacle of education, so going for postgraduate degrees has become an easy way to evade their responsibilities.
But, what is the use of education if one doesn’t know how to live independently?
Some are reluctant to take strong or bold decisions, even when they are in their mid-thirties! Again, the fault lies with parents who spoil their children and don’t let them take up responsibilities. Education should not be limited to getting a degree. The real examination is from the university of life!
From Ms Subha Premchand
School teacher living in Dubai
Gulf News asked: Are today’s college graduates reluctant to take on the responsibilities of adulthood?
— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor