Archive for August 2013

Resilience Parenting – Raising a Self-Reliant Generation

August 21, 2013

Article by Anne Boysen – Futurist

How will the next generation of young adults differ from the ones growing up today?

The conventional answer is ‘more of the same’. From ad agencies and tech magazines, we get the message that we should expect a generation that is more hyper-parented, more narcissistic, more individualized, more connected, and more inseparable from their digital devices than any generation before them. But are these projections realistic?

The synchrony of biological age and historic events has an effect on our identity and is often called the “generational” or “cohort” effect. We carry into our adulthood some of the child rearing ideas and values that influenced our parents when we were children. We also distance ourselves from – and determine not to repeat – traumatic aspects of our own childhoods. The over-parenting trend we are witnessing in many countries today is to some degree Generation X correcting for their own under-nurtured childhoods that were characterized by latchkeys and dissolving families.

After two decades of the women’s liberation movement many daughters reacted to their maternal trailblazers by shelving their Ivy League degrees so they could stay at home to breastfeed on demand or home school their own children. Suddenly, we were told daycare is harmful for children, and progressive child rearing styles like attachment parenting made strange bedfellows with conservative Christian think tanks like Focus On The Family ( “Choice feminism” now introduced relativism to the women’s liberation movement, signalling that it was OK for professional women to opt out of the workforce. [1]

Until recently the idea that ‘more is better held  sway over  many parenting philosophies. The more  exposure towards flashcards, positive feedback,  rewards and protection you could offer, the better  off your child would be. Borne out of the self- esteem movement, positive nurturing has become  the epitome of a happy childhood and predictor of  future success. At least until terms like overindulgence” and “helicopter parenting” entered our vernacular.

College administrators and job recruiters report unrealistic expectations and smug narcissism. The notable discrepancy between Millennials’ trophy-adorned childhoods and the recession-ridden reality that met them as emerging adults gives us reasons to believe that the “more is better’ approach in parenting is reaching its climax. Which is why we are now seeing growing interest in parenting styles that embrace the ‘less is more” principle. A fringe movement has been dancing to the beat of a different drum for a while, but is now becoming the focus of op-ed pieces and literature. Let’s just call it “Resilience Parenting” – since the overarching idea is to raise kids that fair well during adversity. These approaches are far less glamorous and could earn their pioneers the reputation of being ‘stingy slacker’ parents, so few are willing to be the odd one out.

Instead of touting early academic achievement and reward charts, ‘resilience parents’ strip away extrinsic rewards in an effort to teach fulfilment through personal experiences of mastery. Instead of bolstering success, they allow, even encourage, their kids to experience failure. The idea is that children learn the essential coping skills to move on when faced with disappointment. Boredom is no longer a sign of under-stimulation, but the rare window of protracted time that nurtures creativity. Above all, the ‘resilience parent’ reclaims child-driven autonomy. Without freedom there is no room for personal growth. For the sheltered Millennials who will enter their parenting years in the coming decade, it will be all about finding their own voice, and it’s not that likely they will want their progeny to grow up as supercharged versions of themselves.

Anne Boysen is a futurist who specialises in studying and writing about the future of the youngest generation we know – the generation born after the early 2000s – sometimes called the New Silents, Generation Z or Homelanders. Twitter @aftermillennial

[1] Recent findings indicate the reduction in female employment in the 2000s was due to women reaching an impasse in their careers as they struggle to maintain both careers and families, at least in the U.S. Attitudes toward full time work among mothers show an interesting U-shape with full time work being least popular during the time period when many Generation X parents had young children (see Pew Research statistics). Of course, the resurging preferences for full time work could be a reflection of economic hardship brought out by the sluggish economy rather than a true change in values.

Street Kids International

August 20, 2013

street kids1 “Where others see a problem, we see potential. Our work is sustainable, innovative and effective.” 

A central passion for us at Fast Future is how we create positive futures for children and young people in a  fast  changing and turbulent world where their needs can all too easily  get  overlooked. We have been looking for a charity to support that  works   successfully with the most marginalised and hard to reach – for  whom  effective interventions can facilitate truly transformative change. So  we were delighted to be introduced to Street Kids International  (SKI) and learn about their excellent work. SKI works with local delivery organisations such as NGOs to equip street youth with the skills and support they require to either start and expand small businesses, get a job, or return to education. 

700 million young people globally are living in poverty. SKI provides these young people with  access to training and opportunities, supporting them to earn a decent living and change their own lives.  SKI is a charity launched in Canada that has been working with young people in the developing world for 25 years. In the 5 years since its inception, Street Kids UK has connected with over 4000 street-affected youth between the ages of 15 and 25, in India, Ethiopia, Brazil and Ecuador and Uganda. SKI’s main programmes centre around delivering Train the Trainer workshops with local organisations and their staff on the delivery of participatory livelihoods training for marginalised youth.

We will be working with and supporting SKI in a number of ways going forward. What has been truly amazing is the level of interest that has already been shown by the  people we’ve mentioned SKI to in recent weeks and the desire to get involved and help make a contribution to an excellent initiative. If the initiative is of interest, we’d encourage you to get in touch and explore how best you can contribute.

As you can imagine, SKI is open to ideas on how best you can get involved and relies on the support of donors, fundraisers, corporate sponsors and volunteers. There are a range of volunteering opportunities. For example, SKI is currently looking for brand ambassadors and people who can help to research, analyse, structure and evaluate various strategic development options they are considering. Finally SKI is launching three new initiatives that are mentioned below and would welcome all offers of support.

Street Source – This is an innovative youth job readiness programme, offering job readiness training, integrated work placement, and on-the-job mentoring to disadvantaged and marginalised youth.  Street Source makes critical connections between participants and local industry and business, connecting trainees with fair wage employers in their communities.  Street Source offers life opportunities for youth, their families and communities to escape the cycle of poverty. The pilot project in Pune India saw 98% of participants secure gainful employment. The project is currently being extended in India and the Philippines.

SKI UK is looking for financial support to extend the initiative and for employers who are interested in taking part.

Make Change  – SKI is launching an initiative to try and get UK school children interested in the challenges facing street kids around the world, and using similar techniques, provide opportunities for students to develop their enterprise, advocacy and fundraising skills, and to interact with members of the private sector. The aim is to inspire young people in the UK to recognize the agency they have to take positive action to impact and support street youth across the globe, while acquiring valuable life and small business skills through practical experience. The goal is to reach 10,000 children within three years and then scale up to make the programme available across the whole country and potentially in other countries as well.

SKI UK is looking for financial support for the pilot initiative and for people to help develop the initiative and take it out to schools.

Impact Evaluation – As part of the next stage of its development, SKI would like to undertake a detailed evaluation of its work around the world. Using a clearly defined ‘Theory of Change’ and indicator framework, the aim is to develop an evaluation framework, research methodology and tools to measure the impact of SKI programmes at local, national and international levels for youth, youth workers and local NGOs. Survey work will need to be undertaken in each of the five countries (India, Ethiopia, Brazil and Ecuador and Uganda) where SKI UK has worked and the results analysed to assess the impact and feed back into the continuous refinement of SKI’s training materials and methods.

SKI UK is looking for consultants who can help develop the theory of change and research tools, conduct the survey in each country  and analyse the findings. This support could be provided by a single firm or by individuals operating in the relevant countries.

If you would like to offer your assistance, get further details on the three projects mentioned, or explore ideas on how you can get involved, please contact the Executive Director of Street Kids International UK – Philippa Frankl 

Facebook:  streetkidsuk

YouTube:  streetkidsintl channel

Twitter: @streetkidsuk