Parenting in the age of vanishing values
Whether it is a two-parent household, single-parent, or guardian, trying to cultivate young minds to face the challenges of life is a task made far greater these days owing to diminishing values that threaten the family structure.
The strength of any society, Bermuda included, depends largely on the strength of the family unit, where young minds should get their first glimpse of discipline, respect and values of honesty in an atmosphere of warmth and affection.
While that might have the tone of a happy fairytale, with many quick to reject it as unrealistic in today’s world, it is realistic that without proper values taught early, the potential is greater for a young mind to fall prey to elements constantly lurking in the shadows of life.
Even under the best of conditions overflowing with modern technology and financial security, parents are still confronted with trying to compete with a tidal wave of distractions, much of it from cyberspace and easily accessible via amazing, electronic gadgets.
Many preteens are exposed to negative material that could lure a young mind in the wrong direction with life-changing consequences.
Although positive material flows in that system, without proper guidance the vulnerable are at risk of not being able to tell the difference.
When damage is done to a young mind, it often goes undetected in an atmosphere of people hard-pressed to meet various commitments in a highly competitive economic arena.
A potential problem for society already in the making.
In many countries there have been violent acts with tragic results by those whose minds have been transformed for reasons not easy to explain.
Too often in some cases, this has happened under the noses of parents or guardians without being detected.
In a society where guns are plentiful, it takes only the pulling of a trigger to shatter the lives of many families.
In America, the gun issue remains highly contentious, even among many candidates in the upcoming presidential election. But there are no easy solutions in sight.
Bermuda is not a gun society, but it is no secret that lethal weapons exist illegally in our society, and that remains a threat to island safety. Bermuda is a beautiful island where most feel relatively safe, but there is growing concern about those who are detached from sound community values — the values that helped the island through challenging times of social injustice that hampered our growth.
Success will not mean that everyone rides a gravy train with unlimited supplies of milk and honey, or that proverbial pot of gold awaits at the end of the rainbow.
No amount of material possessions will ever replace quality values such as decency and respect for each other despite our differences. Farmers don’t plant seeds for carrots and expect cabbages.
During the years when discipline was prevalent throughout our Bermudian communities, many of our seniors knew unless that quality was taught early it could lead to problems later.
The difference between our modern-day era and the past is that there was greater co-operation back then between families in keeping those values alive.
A salute should be given to those parents and guardians who are doing their best under challenging circumstances to teach values by example.
Their efforts may not make headline news, but they could be contributing to building a society where decency and respect can be passed on to future generations.
There should be no reason why a baby looking through the bars of a crib should end up looking through the bars of a prison cell in a matter of years.
We know it is not a perfect world and that everyone makes mistakes, but we have a responsibility to ensure that our children are given every chance to be productive citizens.
What really matters for those who care about values, is that parenting even in today’s challenging environment must involve support from the entire community.
Children must be taught early that life is not a question of getting — a hard lesson in a materialistic world where things often mean more than values. They must also be taught that there are no short cuts to true happiness.
Throughout the world, and that includes Bermuda, people continue to use illegal and legal substances seeking a form of escape from various challenges. The consequences are often tragic.
As a new year unfolds, there should be renewed efforts to highlight values in our relatively small population compared with regions in other parts.
There will be no dramatic change overnight, but keeping strong values with full community support could go a long way towards keeping Bermuda not only safe, but a place where all Bermudians can feel proud that great values handed down from previous generations will still be here for generations yet to come.
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