The Lost Generation
Disconnect between parents and their children creates emotional scars
This is the first entry in a three-part series about the problems facing young people.
Do not continue to blame the youth for their actions—start blaming these so-called parents.
Many parents in Detroit, just like other cities across America, have dropped the ball on true parenting. The mothers and fathers of old are just that—old—and the solid values and morals they instilled in us have not been passed down.
Working in youth development has really shaped my thought process and opened my eyes to the real issues effecting youth in the city.
We are rapidly losing a generation of youth that are influenced by everything other than its parents. Ever increasingly, we are seeing a parent-friend relationship, instead of one of parent-child.
Nowadays, youth value insight from their peers, favorite singers, rappers and athletes more than the one who clothes and feeds them. But, the underlying question is why. Why do kids respect people outside of the home more than their own parents?
I have learned that part of the disconnect comes from the lack of meaningful interaction between the parent and the child; many of our youth suffer from a low dose of love, appreciation and belonging.
In my male mentoring group, young men struggling through adolescence express their thoughts and reflections about past successes and personal pain. For example, let me tell you about a young man who I will call “Tim.”
When I first met “Tim,” he was a freshman in high school. He was having a hard time adjusting to the change from middle to high school. After the first semester, his grades slipped and his attendance was dangerously low. These were all the signs of a potential dropout.
“Tim” came into my office with his friend Robert, who was already in my mentoring group. I asked him his name and attempted to engage him around school. He was very hesitant about talking about his life.
He said very little, as if he had been coached on how to respond to questions about his life. I left him alone and started to talk to Robert about some things that he was dealing with. Tim sat there and just listened offering little to no comment. After 30 minutes, Rob had to leave to head home. Tim would leave out the door behind Rob and whisper faintly “See you later, sir.”
A week would go by and Tim would pop up in my office out of nowhere. He would come in and say “What’s up,” but then he would just sit there and say very little. This went on for about three weeks.
One day, Tim came in my office with his head down and this day he did not even speak. I told him to close my office door. I asked him, what was wrong and he responded, while staring at the floor, that he wanted to die because living was too much.
This was the first time he had ever opened up to me. I asked him why he would want to kill himself. I told him to consider all those that would be deeply hurt by his actions. He looked up at me and said emphatically, “No one would care but you.”
I asked him why he would say that. He responded, “My mom is on drugs and we house hop. We don’t have food to eat because my mom uses the money for food on only God knows what.
Honestly, I’m hungry right now, sir. I ate lunch in school today, but I skip dinner most nights to see to it that my little sister eats.”
As the tears flowed, he continued to tell me about his home life. He admitted that he was so angry because he has not felt love in years. His father was killed before he was born and no one else in the family cared enough to rescue them from the bondage of bad parenting he experienced.
I sat there trying to understand how this kid’s life got this bad. He didn’t really want to kill himself; he was just searching for a way out. I knew that I had this one-hour with him to speak something into his life that would encourage him.
Honestly, I don’t remember what I said to him. I spoke from my heart and prayed it would reach him.
Every day after that conversation, Tim would stop by my office to talk about whatever was going on. However, that wouldn’t last long.
Check BLACDetroit.com for the next installment of this series.