Raising Children for an Uncertain Future

“You cannot raise your children as your parents raised you, because your parents raised you for a world that no longer exists.”

 Gretchen Schmelzer

The world is changing rapidly. We are living in uncertain times.

To some extent the times have always been uncertain. Throughout the generations, parents have never known what the future will hold and what the world will be like for their children as they grow into adulthood. But, in this generation the uncertainty is amplified to an unprecedented level.

We are all aware of the speed with which technology is changing and can easily joke about how crazy it is…

Remember when phones were connected to the wall with a long spiraling cord? When you didn’t know who was calling until you answered? When you had to wait for film to develop and letters to travel through the postal system and for the next episode of your favorite TV show to be aired on your local channel?

Just by looking through the lens of technology and media, it’s easy to see the distinct differences between the lives our kids are living and our own childhoods. When you consider how quickly new technologies have been developed over recent years, it’s mind boggling to try to envision what kind of technology and skills may or may not be relevant when our kids are adults. That is, if our world continues to move in this direction.

But that’s a pretty big “if”.

Actually, that’s the biggest uncertainty. That is the uncertainty that gnaws at our nerves as we power through our day to day. The one that is silently screaming at us from beyond the veneer of this strangely comfortable life. The proverbial endangered elephant in the room that is often too painful to think about while we’re busy raising and teaching little humans.

For the first time that we know of, in the course of human history, we are raising children in a time that offers no guarantee that the basic conditions for life to exist on Earth will be in place for the duration of their ‘expected’ natural lifespan.

Let that sink in a moment. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel that.

We are raising children when the best science of the day calculates that we have less than 10 years (until roughly 2030) to completely revolutionize our economy, energy use and emissions in order to avoid catastrophic and irreparable climate chaos. However, many scientists and environmental experts point out that, even if we make all of these rapid, unilateral changes, the damages that the planet has already incurred in loss of biodiversity and excessive pollution are enough to destabilize the environment and create extreme climate chaos long before the children of today have a chance to grow old.

Meanwhile, the politicians and industry leaders forge on, unrelenting in their frenzy to extract every drop of fossil fuel from the ground and burn it all up to line their own pockets at the expense of our children’s future and the future of countless other species and ecosystems.

Tar Sands, Alberta, Canada

This is terrifying.

And it is weighing on our consciousness all the time, whether we are actively thinking about it or not.

It seeps in through the news, social media memes or comedy routines we may see. It enters our thoughts through political dialogue and personal conversations. We notice how the world is changing and feel the strain of increased pressure as we tend to our daily lives. We can feel it when we try to envision our children’s future. It’s in there, wearing away at our sense of security and increasing our levels of anxiety, whether we realize it or not.

And, guess what…children pick up on everything.

If we are feeling it they are responding to it. No matter how much we try to shelter them or cover up these feelings, this existential stress is still a major aspect of the lives of each and every one of today’s young people.

There are no easy answers or pre-made solutions to this challenge. We are venturing into completely uncharted waters. But I believe that being honest about the situation we are in and facing it with the courage to learn, feel, heal, process and make difficult choices that prioritize wellbeing over business as usual as often as we possibly can is the best way to love and serve our children and the future of life on our precious planet.

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Raising Children in the Midst of Global Crisis: A Compassionate Guidebook for Parenting in Turbulent Times by Jo delAmor

Visit this page for more information about this book and to sign up to be notified when it is published and available for sale.

This entry was posted in Book Excerpts from Raising Children in the Midst of Global Crisis, Cultural Transformation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.