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GenerationsKeskiviikko 26.02.2020 17:33

What has happened to our children?

What is it that makes them so determined and so oblivious to the negative.

Listening to a conversation with my school friend recorded using an automatic call recorder for iPhone, in which we remembered our time, I noticed that In my day, if my parent said ‘no’, there would have been a certain amount of argument to try to change their mind but we all knew that ‘no’ meant ‘no’ and pushing the issue too far would just make things worse.

These days, the word ‘no’ is the green light to signal a tirade of abusive recriminations on our parental abilities. It isn’t just a case of being the worst parent in the world or that someone else’s parents will give permission, it’s a blow by blow list of our insufficiencies, accompanied by the mother of all strops and the hurled accusatory question as to why we hate them so much.

It really isn’t surprising that so many of us parents cop out for the easy way by saying ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘I’ll think about it’ just to buy a little time and stave off for a few more days what we know is an unavoidable spontaneous combustion. However, it is a false hope, because all of those prevarications are actually heard as a ‘yes’ in our teenagers’ minds and putting off the inevitable only leads to an even bigger eruption when it happens since they will have made all their arrangements on the basis of ‘but you said I could!’

And, whilst I’m in grumpy old woman mode’, where did all these sleepovers come from?

In my day, as a special treat, our cousins would come to stay for a couple of days in the summer holidays and, if we were really good, in the Easter hols too. We never had friends in the street to spend the night - well not unless our parents were babysitting whilst their parents went out and that didn’t happen very often because grandparents tended to be the regular babysitters… or one of the teenagers from further up the street.

Two decades ago, I can remember my nieces and nephews having a friend to sleepover as a birthday treat. And then things started to change. Slumber parties came over the Atlantic, becoming the in-thing for British teenage girls and it all stemmed from there.

Suddenly, it was fashionable to have your friend to stay at the weekend or in the holidays (even if s/he lived just across the street) - when you were at primary school. And then these events became more regular and involving more children with two or three friends to stay and then the other parents returning the favour to the stage where children would be househopping several times in one week.

And, once they get to senior school, those children don’t want to stay in their bedrooms if they haven’t got televisions. They want to be downstairs ’sleeping’ in the front room with a midnight feast plus access to all night dvds and no parental control over what they’re watching on cable.

Which, of course, is where mixed sleepovers start to rear their ugly head and the need for propriety exerts the necessity of insisting that each gender is in a different room when they eventually decide to tuck themselves in, especially when the participants are under 16. At which point you have to say, well what’s the point of a sleepover under those circumstances? They can stay until 11pm and then be taken home since they only live a few miles away.

It’s a whole new world and a source of constant irritation for parents desperately trying to retain control… and failing miserably.

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