RAISING THE GENZEES

“Mom…you had no right going through my stuff! If you hadn’t you would not have found the contraceptive pills you are making so much fuss about” was sixteen-year-old Adunni’s prompt response to her mother’s accusatory remarks. Pere’s (Adunni’s mom) stricken response was “How dare you Adunni. You are a disappointment, after all, me and your father have done to ensure you have a good education and are grounded as a child of God”!? This was one of several rows in the recent past between mother and daughter but this time, Adunni was ready to bare it all. She continued.

“Mom, you both were a large contributory factor to what you are seeing today. You and dad were never available to talk with. Yes, I was largely in my room on the internet or social media, but you never bothered to find out what I was doing there. Apart from you occasionally popping in your head through the door and muttering with a shake of the head “On your laptop again, when will you be socially interactive?” I was pretty much left on my own. I had questions mom but wouldn’t dare ask them for fear of your stereotype of response “Ah…you shouldn’t even be discussing such things” or “I could never have asked my mother such”. So – I had my answers online or from my peer group. I entered chat rooms where I was free to discuss anything and voice my opinions without fear of recrimination. I made interesting friends who filled in the gaps. That was how I came across my boyfriend, Bablo and after some online interaction, we met up on a date and I really grew to like him. He introduced me to sex, and it seemed like the natural next step in the relationship. Mind you mom, he never coerced me. Incidentally mom, the day before our first physical date, I asked what you felt about dating and at what age you felt comfortable for your daughter to start dating and your response was “Shut up child…you are too young to discuss dating” That put paid to the subject. Dad was even worse; I couldn’t even approach him at all”. Pere had heard enough. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wearily retired to her room to place a call to her sister – Tilly, (Reni’s mum) to discuss this worrisome development. Tilly calmed her with soothing words and agreed to come over the next day.

Tilly’s advice the next day is summarised below:

“Sis…the times are different from ours and so your training and mentoring must be in tandem with the times. Generation Zees (Genzees) are brought up in an age of high technological advancement with a huge internet presence and a preponderance of social media platforms. This requires that we as parents must up our game by being “Techy”. We cannot afford to be a fossil or a dinosaur in these times. I am on top of the feeds and get to see trending topics which give me an insight into what Reni and her brother are reading and discussing. This enables a basis for discussion and gentle guidance, especially where I think the general view in the chatroom is misplaced. Some of my views may be considered old school but it gives them some other perspective other than that which is paraded in social media. Remember also that no topic is barred, as everything can be learned from the Internet. It is therefore always better to discuss a topic to give them your preferred perspective and content rather than to parry the subject. You must make them your friends so that they feel comfortable having free discourse with you about anything and everything. That way you can guide them and fashion out prayer points on their behalf.”

“Pere, it is not easy, but it is necessary” she continued. “The wake-up call for me was when Reni was in her penultimate year in secondary (high) school and I walked into her room late one night. She had thought I was asleep but there I was bam, I caught her deep in conversation with a male classmate and they were using very suggestive language. Immediately she sensed my presence, she dropped the call, but I had heard what gave room for concern. The next morning, we had a mother and daughter heart-to-heart talk about dating, sex, etc. I didn’t chastise her but rather counseled her. To my pleasant surprise, she cut off all communication with the boy as she realised, he was a negative influence”.

Pere thanked her sister and set out to plan restorative measures to be taken with Adunni.

Havilah’s view is that in dealing with the Genzees, the usual threefold steps for mentoring children must be utilised but the fourth is critical for this generation. The steps are:

  1. Steep them in the ways of God.
  2. Be their” Go To” person by being their friend. Know their friends and discuss freely with them without downplaying fears and concerns.
  3. Pray for them AND with them.
  4. Do not be a Fossil or Dinosaur. Acquire technological skills and remain relevant. Speak their language and navigate their terrain so that they don’t see you as outdated with outmoded views.

P.S. “Genzees” are described as ranging from about age 13 to 26.

Love

Havilah