Tom Briggs is a proud dad of three and a multi-award-winning blogger at www.diaryofthedad.co.uk. Diary of the Dad started as a hobby back in 2010 but has since become his full-time job. In 2015, he quit his stressful office job to spend more time with his family and concentrate on doing what he loves for a living. He heartily recommends it.
One of my favourite ever comedy sketches is The Four Yorkshiremen.
There are a few reasons for this; it was co-written by two of the Monty Python team, it’s a great observation on how different generations relate to each other and I’m a Yorkshireman too.
Well, I was born there and stayed for two years and that’s good enough.
If you’re not familiar with the sketch, said northern chaps engage in a skewed form of one-upmanship by comparing far-fetched tales of tough upbringings.
After the most ridiculous claim of the lot, it concludes with the immortal line “And you try and tell the young people of today that… and they won’t believe you.”
I think that, for a while at least, there was a strong element of truth underneath the impossible tales of living in a shoebox in the middle of t’road and paying mill owner for permission to come to work.
My generation (Generation X, for the record) definitely had an easier childhood than the Baby Boomers. For a start, we didn’t have the aftermath of global conflict to contend with. We also had the benefit of much more liberal attitudes coming into play in the intervening decades.
But I think things have changed again. I often compare my childhood to that of my kids and have come to the conclusion that life is so much harder for them.
Sure, they have more things to play with than there were in the local toy shop when I was young and have cartoons on tap, but these are the only obvious perks I can think of.
There’s so much pressure on kids across the board these days.
Let’s start with school. My two older children are seven and five. They both get regular homework and have to complete quizzes on most of the books they read. Everything is assessed and it’s removing the joy from what should be happy years.
They even have attendance awards which effectively punish those who’ve been unwell and missed the odd day through no fault of their own. It’s a perfect example of adding insult to injury.
Then there are extra-curricular activities. It seems to be an unwritten rule that a good education isn’t enough to set up kids for life. Having a sport, musical instrument or even extra tutoring seems to be becoming the norm.
Technology was perhaps conspicuous by its absence in my earlier paragraph about cool things children have now. This was intentional as I tend to think of it as a double-edged sword.
Of course they need to embrace it as we all should, but I worry that too much time on tablets and gaming consoles can stifle creativity.
There is literally too much information now as well. It scares me how much my children already know about the world.
Social media is changing the way we communicate and we all have ever-increasing digital footprints. Everything is recorded forever so we don’t need to remember things. I think that’s really sad.
All of the above is forcing kids to grow up too quickly and I think this is wrong. They’re basically being programmed to be tested on everything and lose some of their uniqueness in the process.
I’d love to see a reboot of sorts. It would be great for kids to just be kids again. I’m not necessarily saying we should go back to the 1980s – the fashion is enough of a deterrent as far as I’m concerned – but children could really do with a more carefree existence.
They should be worried about completing sticker collections rather than SATs, building dens rather than models of Stonehenge and blissfully oblivious of the stresses that adults experience.
Who’s with me?