Is Mindfulness creating a Lazy Generation?
In a world that is trying to slow down, are we in danger of raising a generation of lazy, entitled individuals without a sense of duty? Dr Gummer explores the issue...
Mindfulness, being in the moment, stopping to smell the roses, all seem to be the order of the day in advice columns from lifestyle gurus. In a generation of pressured, time poor parents, helping them learn to slow down and enjoy the journey and meet their own needs is an important message.
However, remembering that your children are likely to model your behaviour, it’s also important to take pride in your life and have a purpose that you get satisfaction from. Whether that’s running the home, a career, caring for others, or volunteering, working out what gives their own life meaning can help parents provide a strong role model for their children.
We’ve all experienced the huge satisfaction and joy from accomplishing something and the developmental benefits of this shouldn't be under-estimated, especially if the achievement has come through good, old-fashioned hard work. Many employers today are complaining that young job-seekers simply don’t have a good work ethic, and it made me wonder if the ‘slow down, be in the moment' messaging is missing the parents and resonating with youngsters who use it as an excuse for being lazy.
This is a relatively new issue. Post WW2 children didn’t have the luxury of slowing down and you’ll often hear older people worrying about being a burden and no longer being ‘useful’. They also worry that young children don't have a sense of duty or purpose in life, which can seem like a wasted life to a generation who pride themselves on their contribution to their family and the wider society.
Parents can encourage children to be net contributors to their world and live a life of purpose. Giving yourself permission to get enough rest, look after your health and nurture your relationships is very important for mental health, but so is feeling worthwhile, fulfilled and valued. That doesn’t just happen, it’s a result of your actions - and it’s not always easy.
It’s common for parents, especially mothers, to be self-deprecating about their achievements, which can lead to children undervaluing them too. Demonstrating to children the value of hard work and sharing the rewards it brings, can help children learn some of the important skills they need in order to develop a good work ethic.
Like most things, it’s all about balance and I’m the first person to say that children should be able to play and enjoy their childhood, but hard work brings its own enjoyment of the rewards, and we shouldn’t deny children the opportunity of living a meaningful life full of purpose and gaining the social, emotional, and often financial benefits of achievement.
A strong work ethic doesn’t just happen when you start a job, it’s something we need to nurture throughout childhood - it requires skills such as self-awareness, understanding of delayed gratification, perseverance and commitment, and these develop with practice. The reassuring thing is that many of these skills can be learnt in a playful way. Adopting a Mary Poppins approach to chores and making them fun will help children understand that jobs need doing, but will help them make the activity of doing the jobs as enjoyable as possible.
Sharing jobs is also a good way to make a task more enjoyable - parents can offer to help a child tidy their bedroom and the child can help make the tea in return. The conversations and fun you can have during these shared activities makes them more enjoyable, while reinforcing the need to get the job done.
Having a purpose is beneficial for mental health and promotes social integration.
So take pride in your accomplishments and those of your children, however seemingly insignificant, and enjoy the benefits of living a meaningful life.
Categorised in: parenting advice
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer