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Today's Youth VS 1960's Youth

By Pauline Clementson
Sept. 25, 2007

How do you think today’s youth stack up against the youth of the 1960s?

In the matter of maturity, I think they by far, surpass their ‘60s equals. Their self-assurance and independence shows a maturity that was hardly ever seen in kids of the same age in my day.

We were all wrapped up in our sports and family outings on weekends, and our time during the week was taken up with school.

School activities were limited to sports or arts and drama events. Having to travel large distances to get to and from our schools, most of us had little time for fun and games after we arrived home. We also had our chores for mum to do, which kept us out of mischief.

On the weekends was our time for kicking around with our mates, doing our sports and getting tied into family activities. With only a radio and a piano, we made our own entertainment at home. Saturday night dances were a highlight of the week. Mum and Dad would take we kids along, carrying our share of the supper and all dressed up in our ‘Sunday-best’. You didn’t have time to sit with your friends, giggling, as you looked over the boys on the other side of the hall. The Bandleader would call every one onto the floor and those that couldn’t dance, were taken in hand by someone who could and you were taught. The Gay Gordon’s, Maxina, Two-step etc., were dances we could do by the time we were 10 years old. It was a lot of fun. We learnt how to communicate and listen to adults with respect and interest. The majority of older folk never seemed to talk down to us and they treated us with respect also.

With the dances being a community occasion, alcohol was not allowed so the local Policeman used to keep an eye on the car parks. There were always those that would chance their arm but they seldom caused any great problem. It never crossed our minds not to go home with a family member or members until we were allowed to start dating. In most cases that was 16years at the earliest.

The most anti-social I think any of us became, was to congregate at the local ice-cream shop if it had a jute-box. From the age of 16 plus, it was a real thrill to be classed as a Bodgie or a Widgie and listen to all the rock and roll music and dance the twist and the jive. Our parents despaired at the modern generation and our lack of respect for tradition. It was something very daring to go out with a boy more than a few years older and even more so if he had his parents car or better still, his own. We would play our music up loud and swish our gathered skirts and petticoats as we walked. We were cool.

Today, the kids don’t seem to join in family fun the same way, nor are they limited to the social life that we were. They have a vast array of electronic entertainment now and the ability to get around the country like we could never have imagined.

Today, they are off with their mates to hang out and listen to music or rap. They play their sport but not with the same parental involvement we had, usually because of work commitments by Mum and Dad. They spend a lot of time with their mobile phones or computers or play stations etc.

The distractions for the youth of today have never been harder to handle. The drug scene, and the availability of alcohol, lack of job opportunities and the number of ‘latch-key’ kids. All these factors lead to kids having to grow up quickly if they want to survive. With so many families having only one at home parent, the pressure is on for the young to either help with the support of the family or going without some of the necessities of modern life. Today’s youth are made more independent through hardship and challenges than we ever were.

The style of education has changed dramatically with the advent of modern technology. The computer is king in most areas of life now. The openings for careers in unheard-of avenues are increasing yearly it seems. This tends to widen the gap between the economically challenged and the professional families. Those who can afford higher education are making wonderful progress in today’s world. Of those who have to struggle, a proportion is falling by the wayside. No one can really claim that the youth of today lack intelligence. They have to have brains to succeed in the pathways they choose to follow, be that a professional career or crime.

Yes, many of our young are following a very crooked road but there are many who choose the right branch once they get to the crossroads. I admire the tenacity and the fortitude that most youth show today. Sure, times have changed out of all recognition and the pressures today have increased by a hundred-fold. When it is all boiled down, I don’t think the youth of today have changed a great deal; it is the social climate that has changed.

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Email Pauline Clementson: p.clementson@actrix.co.nz

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