With our main focus right now on the economy and its recovery, we need to remember that Barbados has, over the period of many years, developed into a country with amenities rivalling some of the more developed nations in the world.
The Barbadian people have also evolved as a result of this development. Some of the elders within our communities can no doubt highlight the drastic changes which have occurred from the days of their youth to the current stage of their lives.
Our people have come from walking to school barefoot, laundering clothes at the stand pipe and using mainly a system of barter to receive goods from neighbours; to students at secondary school level driving vehicles, people owning more than one cellular phone, and having the resources and knowledge to make investments locally and internationally. It is truly a wonder to behold.
Yet, in all this, it should be considered whether the youth of this generation are in some ways lacking when compared to our ancestors in their youth. As a consequence of achieving our current status, we have made several everyday tasks substantially easier. Do the improved amenities which are now so commonplace within our society lead to devaluation in the minds of our younger generation with regard to the benefits and pride associated with hard work?
Many entrepreneurs would say that the risk of failure when starting a new business is well worth the pride experienced when success is met. Although this might be partially as a result of the business’ profitability, it is also largely due to the fact that the hard work and time spent in building the business have reaped its just rewards. That in no way devalues the contribution made by a person who joins an existing business and strives towards its continued success. However, the person who stands to lose the most is likely to embrace his/her success that much more.
This type of ethic should be drilled into our children by parents from a young age. Cramming their rooms with toys and games, filling their wardrobes with the latest in brand name fashions, and gifting them with expensive vehicles and mobile phones gives a false impression that life is easy. They grow up with the notion that anything they want will just be given to them, and they tend to take many things in life for granted. Although many parents believe that they are providing their children with the “good” life they never had, they are actually putting them at a considerable disadvantage.
How will these children cope when they are unable to win the position they want in the job market; the significant other whom they find desirable; or any other substantial goal or achievement which they crave? These things will hardly just be handed to them; rather it is likely that some significant effort must be shown. Since they are unaccustomed to that type of ‘hard’ work, they are likely to be crushed under the weight of failure, or resort to unethical means to get what they want. This is unacceptable!
Parents need to take stock, and be realistic about the principles and morals they impart to their children. Although all parents want and deserve the opportunity to provide children with a life void of unnecessary hardships, this desire should be checked before it becomes detrimental to the well-being of the child, and by extension, society at large.