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Youth Culture - can family refine culture?

Continuing with the "Youth Series" in the next couple of weeks.

I believe that culture affects everyone! Culture is created by people and it is important in shaping our lives and those around us. It can even affect our personalities in the way that we choose to live our lives, learn, treat ourselves and others. It is passed over from one generation to another, incorporating new ideas and discarding some old ones. It is evolving.

The cultural values of a family can shape their children's development. The way the youth think, communicate and carry out some practical activities, are affected by the cultural environment they find themselves in.

Franz Boas, a scientist, who is known as a pioneer of Psychological Anthropology - the study of the relationship between culture and personality, states that personality is obtained through culture and not biology.

Culture provides essential social and economic benefits in society by allowing tolerance between others and allowing people to work together in harmony. It improves the quality of life and help build communities with a sense of purpose and unity for all.

Interacting with people from different cultures allows us to view life from a different perspective, giving us new ways of thinking, approaching and solving problems - all which are good for the improvement of one's self and their community. This is the type of community I live in and have made some contributions to, either through my role as a parent governor in the local school, a health professional engaging in various community events or by just being present and approachable.

Culture can also influence and change what we see as morally acceptable, due to our constant exposure to it.

I have had the opportunity of interacting with people from various cultures such as Singaporeans, Australians, Indians, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankans, the English, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Cameroonians, Togolese, Zimbabweans, Kenyans etc, all through my teenage years of attending an international school, the university to my working at an international American company (UK office). I have benefited from the variant perceived cultures as several people have also benefited from mine. As an African-British woman, I am able to appreciate my uniqueness in the fact that I can relate to people from diverse cultures with ease. I can build relationship quickly with youth and adults. I find that when I am in that African mindset, I am more expressive, direct, loud and the use of language (even in spoken English) becomes so much more colourful with a lot of gesticulations! However, people are not as direct to point out personal issues or give out criticisms. During conversations with my African brothers and sisters, critical points are always implied with some non- verbal cues - including the look!

In this cultural mindset I am allowed more freedom to dream and be ambitious about my goals in life. While spending time conversing with my Eastern European colleagues, I noticed some similarities with the direct approach to life goals and desires.

When I spend time with my English friends, I am relatively more reserved and diplomatic (haha). During discussions however, I am not reluctant to voice out my opinion when I felt it mattered.

The culture of the youth is dynamic and has changed over the years from the experiences of their parents. Such experiences include socialising, listening to music, watching movies / Netflix, fashion, social media, sleep overs, experimenting with cigarette, drugs and alcohol, taking selfies - the list continues. The difference in culture plays a big role in determining how an individual behaves in any given environment. This has a tremendous impact on the youth's behaviour, which may lead to some parents having an encounter known as the “culture shock" as they experience unfamiliar behaviours. Although some families can adapt to a new way of living, it is worth remembering that it is possible to be flexible without losing their cultural identities. The youth could learn how they are expected to behave - morally at all times.

Sports can be linked to youth culture as sixty one percent of young people from fifteen to twenty four years old participate in sports regularly. Sports provide the opportunity to interact socially with others which would support the youth in developing life skills, knowledge and the right attitude to cope in society. Sports men / women can be seen as role models and many young people look up to them for their efforts to fight for social justice and human rights. For example, the footballer, Marcus Rashford, a goal scorer, who won his campaign in June 2020 for free school meals for vulnerable families, is now seen as a hero!

Although sport is essential in youth development, some cultures do not support their youth to participate in certain sporting events due to being seen as "indecent".

The photograph below shows the support we gave our daughter during an athletic competition.

As an adult and as a family, it is sometimes difficult to remain updated with all the new developments in popular (youth) culture and media trends in the way the youths express their identities and demonstrate their sense of belonging.

Family relationship, particularly parental relationship with their youths is key! An open loving and honest relationship with our children encourages them to be more open with their parents and share some of the activities they are undertaking or are tempted by, which may be unknown to their parents. This would give parents an opportunity to offer advise, support and pray with them. It is not the time to shout them down or threaten them as this could lead to a rebellious behaviour which could be detrimental to the family.

Communication provides an avenue for the youth to interrelate with their parents which could provide confidence, reassurance and might even lead to a change of heart of the youth, in a positive way!

For example, I have kindly put out a request to my youths to cease the use of abbreviations when sending me text messages. Words must be typed in full sentences. It may take them twice as long to send me phone messages but at least I can relate to the certain language which I used in my time as a youth. 😊

Having an awareness of the different trends with the youth can help in understanding and supporting them navigate through life and into adulthood. Adult family members should try to see things from a youth perspective (bearing in mind we were once youths), while still commanding respect.

Connection starts with listening to them and then offering advice or encouragement. There are ways of connecting with the youth culture either through music, video games, books or the different social platforms - I am still getting my head around snap chats though. I can admit that I sometimes find it difficult to keep up with the constant changes in the social media world and the different slangs sometimes used by the youth.

It is good to have a way to allow the youth to express themselves to us either through opinions or suggestions. Although it is recognisable that the youth are filled with fresh ideas, adults should not be afraid to put forward their perception during discussions with them, to see whether their thoughts align or are in conflict with that of the youth. Sometimes, we just have to learn to agree to disagree! When this occurs, adults should remember they are still the parent in the 'parent - child' relationship.

As a youth, what aspect of culture do you like the most or least?

How would you like your family to relate to youth culture? share your thoughts.

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