Nine people sitting in a semicircle.

The discussion on youth issues continued in the main library

19.4.2024 12:49
What's wrong with adults? - the discussion event was organized by the Imatra city library and youth services. The hobby and culture association Tekemista ry also participated in the planning.

In the panel discussion held on Tuesday, April 16, we thought about which factors cause friction between young people and adults and what could be done about it. The event was a continuation of last autumn's Is the youth of Imatra ruined? - for discussion.

There were a dozen panelists and the same number of audience members. The discussion conducted using the batch break method was guided by the person in charge of youth services Johanna Mäkinen from the city of Imatra. On the library's side, the library specialist was responsible for the arrangements Ari Sareslahti.

On the border between youth and adulthood

At the discussion in the fall, it was suggested that if it's the adults instead of the young people who are in trouble. That's why this time the focus was on the role of adults in the lives of young people. The discussion focused on the relationships between young people and their parents, but more general observations about the encounters between generations were also made. The causes of friction were identified as at least the busy rhythm of modern life and the resulting little communication, as well as adults' possibly belittling attitude towards young people's thoughts.

The meaning of adulthood and the moment it began were returned to several times during the event. It was asked whether adulthood begins at the age of 18 or, for example, when you have your own children. The panelists were interested in at which point the parent and child meet each other as equals, or whether that will necessarily happen at any time.

- At what point do a child's opinions turn into an adult's opinions that matter?

Adults were found to be in a dominant position compared to young people. Adults are able to guide young people's thinking and shape their opinions - even when the young person has thought about it more than the adult. Several panelists wanted more emphasis on young people's own thoughts, dreams and familiarity.

As in the autumn discussion, it was also mentioned now that adults have a tendency to find the reasons for minor and major grievances in something other than their own activities, for example youth.

- When we talk about what's wrong with adults, we're talking about what's wrong with society, because adults decide on all matters, said one of the participants.

Hurry, hurry, hurry

There was a lot of talk about the demands and expectations set by modern times. Some of the interlocutors felt that parenting alone is no longer enough, but in our culture a full life also includes a career and hobbies, which reduce the time spent together as a family.

- Women's magazines and social media talk about how an adult has the opportunity and the right to be everything at the same time, it was stated in one speech.

In the opinion of the panelists, low communication is not only a generational issue, but also the conversation between adults was felt to have decreased. Face-to-face encounters and a friendly attitude towards others are easily forgotten in the rhythm of life filled with studies, work and hobbies.

A variety of interests outside of family life were seen as a threat to whether parents can manage to be sufficiently interested in their offspring's affairs. About what children and young people do, where, at what time and with whom.

- The parents' busyness forces the young person to become independent quickly, one interlocutor said.

Smart devices and social media, which addict parents in the same way as young people, have their own challenges. They are a key change that has occurred between previous generations and today's youth.

- Before, parents didn't have to think about what to do with young people, they just put them out with each other. Now we have to invent something to do instead of being on the phone, summed up one interlocutor.

Some were also seen to cause pressure on parents in the form of adult mutual discussion or "scare groups". On Social media, someone is always ready to tell you which methods should not be used to raise children. In connection with this, it was stated that part of the intergenerational communication difficulties may be due to the uncertainty and fear experienced by the parents. The conversational connection with the young person can improve as the parent's self-confidence grows.

One phenomenon identified in the discussion is that parents can try too hard to realize their own dreams through their children. It can mean guiding the child, for example, into a hobby or political activity that interests the parent more than the child or young person himself. The performance-oriented hobby rhythm contributes to the busyness of the whole family.

Stop TV

The problems mentioned during the discussion do not affect all families, but as the participants mentioned, it is often about the adults' own choices. Adults can prioritize family time together, shared hobbies and asking the young person what they belong to, even after early childhood.

- First, let's put the TV on stop, then have a conversation with the young person, one of the panelists instructed the parents.

Taking care of the basics – getting enough sleep, coming home times, general interest in the young person's affairs – was considered essential. This is despite the fact that setting boundaries and asking to belong can cause irritation in a young person. Giving space to a young person's dreams and challenging their opinions in a constructive way, not by belittling or belittling them, was also named as important.

- If you hear a radical idea from a young person's mouth, ask him why he thinks that way, one panelist advised.

- Let's give the young person time to find their own path and to be accepted in ways other than performance. We can go very far if we are seen and heard as ourselves, said another.

During the discussion, reference was also made to the influence opportunities of today's young people, which are easily overlooked by both adults and young people themselves. It was also acknowledged that many young people today are more skilled and willing to justify their views than previous generations. Schools were praised for this.

At the end of the event, the speakers pay attention to those who were not present. The young people who participated in the discussion were aware that they represent only a very small part of their age group - possibly a part that is more active than average and more aware of their own influence. The more grown-up conversationalists, on the other hand, were surprised at the small number of adult audiences. We wondered if people were too busy or if the topic of conversation was not interesting.

For more information:
Library expert Ari Sareslahti, city of Imatra, ari.sareslahtiatimatra.fi (ari[dot]sareslahti[at]imatra[dot]fi), tel. 020 617 6603 
Johanna Mäkinen, responsible for youth services, City of Imatra, johanna.makinenatimatra.fi (johanna[dot]makinen[at]imatra[dot]fi), tel. 020 617 7201

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