The Young and Restless
POR VIDA - Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - April 29, 2018 - 12:00am

When I was a small boy, my parents asked me to be good and well behaved. That would be good enough for them. If I excelled in school or won in a neighborhood race, they’d considered it a bonus.

Yes, I had to do certain chores too. There were things in the household that I was charged to look after. Those were minor tasks meant simply to teach me basic skills and a sense of responsibility.

Things seem to have radically changed since my time as a kid. Today, children are subjected to a lot of pressures, from every direction. Even the very institutions tasked with looking after the wellbeing of children somehow tend to be unwitting sources of pressures for the young.    

The present school system, for instance, holds children for long hours in class. Afterwards, the kids are still given assignments to do at home. The kids are kept busy from morning till night, and there are other things to fill the little spaces in between, like athletic practice, tutorial sessions, research and extracurricular activities.

Parents themselves set very high bars for their children’s academic performance. It is common nowadays to see a parent storming the principal’s office if his child gets a failing grade. At one time, my neighbor’s child secretly changed the grades on his report card. He didn’t have a failing grade, but he was afraid to disappoint his father’s expectation of straight 90s.

Many of us are amused to see little children struggle with a load of books, as if they carried the whole library with them. We forget that children don’t have the physical strength of grown-ups. This may explain the reported rising incidence of scoliosis among today’s young people.

We complain that children have a short attention span, that they cannot hold themselves on to anything for long. Young children have a special sense of time, our minutes seem like hours to them. When a child is forced to fit to adult clockwork, time becomes excruciatingly slow and long to him.

That’s why, in the eyes of an adult, a child easily loses the sense of appeal or excitement about anything that may have initially interested him so much. Worse, when young people are restrained from pursuing their real interests because they are too busy with things they don’t care about, they become frustrated. And frustration is one of the breeding grounds for rebelliousness.

A psychologist friend of mine interestingly relates the early sexual awakening among today’s young people to the pressures they go through. He says our teenagers are out of breath amid the bland activities that adults force them into. And the raw excitement of sexual relations is fresh air to them.

There was a boy who no longer wanted to go to high school. He reasoned with his domineering parents that it was useless – because he didn’t have the energy anymore to go through the very long years to get the degree. No, he was too young yet to not have the energy to pursue his education… but he had lost his heart for it.

Last year, as school enrolment went on high gear, the boy eloped with a neighbor’s daughter. He was only 12 years old! He would rather face an uncertain future with someone whom he believed understood him better. The girl was 13.

 

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