Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Growing Up Too Fast? December 26, 2009

Filed under: Child Development,Parenting,Psychology — Sam George @ 9:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have heard from several parents and thinkers that today’s kids are growing up too fast. What does that really mean? Are kids missing out on childhood? Is childhood culturally shaped or due to the fact they are growing up in an advanced/western society? Does it matter?

Young people today process more information in a year than one generation ago had done throughout their entire adolescence. They are more exposed, more aware, more travelled, more skilled (especially with technology) than the previous generation. They think and express ahead of their age. Or, should we say we are stuck in the old way of thinking?

Marketers know this all too well. ‘Catch them young’ is their slogan. Winning brand allegiance early on can reap rich dividends not only in the future, but for immediate quarter sales as well. Young people in every stage of life today have more disposable wealth than a generation ago and are more flirtatious with it.

The rise in eating disorders, drug and alcohol usage, and violent behaviors are all seeping into younger kids. Deviant behaviors of college kids can now be seen among high schoolers and those of junior high can now be observed among middle schoolers. What was 18 is now 13!

Kids today are exposed to more sex than ever. Racy television shows, ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and explicitly naked images are freely disseminated to younger audiences. The puberty and first sexual experience ages are sliding downward. Pregnant sixth graders and scores of teens with post abortion trauma are becoming less of an aberration.

All of these and other reasons make kids ‘older’ than they really are. Kids might become independent early and even handle adult responsibility well, but this does not make them adults. Having adult like bodies or doing grown-up chores are not enough. Transition into adulthood requires a coherent sense of self, vocational commitment, moral conviction and emotional maturity.

Sometimes parents force children to achieve too much too soon. Parents try to live out their unachieved dreams through their children or they strive to make them even more successful than they are. Attempts in transforming their kids into stars and child prodigies, even though they are not naturally gifted, have disastrous consequences.

Fleeting innocence and early maturation isolates kids from their peers. Lack of friendship and a sense of belonging can adversely affect any person. Parental expectation or negligence further aggravates this crisis. ‘Hurried’ children handle enormous levels of stress and often suffer from early burn out.

Parent must maintain the delicate balance between protecting children from over exposure without intruding into their lives. Avoid ‘when I was your age’ talk and actively get involved their lives. Hurried intellectual, emotional and social development is unhealthy.

Parenting is a much harder job than what we signed up for. Nevertheless, it can be very fulfilling as well. Slow down. Take time to be with your children. Let them be kids. Stop rushing through parenting – our most important assignment in life! Perhaps our children aren’t growing up too fast, rather we are parenting too fast.

<First appeared in Sam’s weekly column in India Tribune.>


Next Generation – Missing from Church December 16, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 9:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

In last few months, I had several conversations with Indian Pastors/Christian leaders from various denominations in different cities (none of them know each other, I think) and interesting they all raised a common concern – “The Next Generation is dropping out of church – what can we do? A generation who had grown right within these walls, who went to our sunday schools and youth fellowship and even got married here, now is not interested in the church anymore?”

Having authored a book on this generation, they feel I should dole out some quick fixes. Of course, I have raised such issues in the book and analyzed several ofthe underlying reasons at length. So my quick response was ‘have you read the coconut generation book?’

I am glad these leaders have taken note of changing happening in their congregations. Many others are clueless and think everything is status quo. Or at least pretend to be so. Few years ago, a pujari in a Hindu temple asked me a similar question – ‘Indian kids don’t come to temple… they are not as religious as their parents. What do you guys do in church to retain the young people.’

So first of all this is not any church or denominational issue. It is not even any problem with imigrants faiths. It is not a matter of language or doctrine or rituals or  organizational set up. Faith and its expressions are undergoing several fundamental shifts in  the Western world. When asked by Leadership Journal about challenges facing the Western church today, Tom Sine (author of Mustard Seed Revolution) said,

“The Western church is losing twenty- and thirty-somethings at an unprecedented rate, even while there’s a growing spiritual hunger among those groups. This is going to lead to a financial crisis for the church and mission as baby boomers start retiring. Because they are strapped with much higher school and housing costs, the few young people left in the church won’t have the discretionary income that their parents or grandparents had to sustain the church. At the same time, the average American is working roughly 10 hours more a week than he was 15 to 20 years ago. That means these young people will have less time for family, church, prayer, Scripture reading, witness, and service.”

Life, work, culture, economics etc are changing rapidly and all of which will cause us to think differently about our faith and communal involvements. Next generation will do church differently… they need to introduced and nurtured in faith differently than prior generations. Not that what worked before is wrong… just that it does not fit into the new world. Are we ready to do ministry differently?


Youth Ethics – troubling December 8, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 7:15 pm
Tags: , , , ,

You may say what does ethics got to do with todays’ youth. That is exactly this youth research study wanted to find out and resulting are very disturbing.

The Josephson Institute of Los Angeles, which studies contemporary ethics and morals of American Youth, recently released its “2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth.” They surveyed nearly 30000 youth across this nation to find out their ethical and moral groundings. What did they find? The next generation (future leaders, bizmen, politicians, teachers, parents etc) are involved in lying, cheating and stealing. Find the entire report card here and New York Times report.

30% stole from stores last year. 64% cheated on class tests. 83% lied to their parents. Inspite of these distubing stats, 93% seems to satisfied with their personal ethics, meaning they do not find anything wrong with what they did. That is more distubing fact than the stats itself.

It even scary to imagine what will happen when these youth become adults. Lying and cheating in their marriage, fail to keep us contrctual obligations in business, politicians stealing on public contracts, lying to their children and employers etc. Yet justifying their action according to their personal ethics.

We must have a common objective moral standards in the society outside of ourselves, without which we are bound too see such vaue confusion. What is right for you may not be right for me. Relativistic worldview will undermine our common vision for family, society and nation.

We removed God from schools and we saw pregnant teens, violence in school and now this new ethical standards. We removed God from business world (anything goes for sake of making money) and we saw several corporate implosion. Most recely mortgage crisis, econmic greed and near collapse of capitalism itself. We removed God from families and marriage crashed out at record numbers. We removed God from stores (last Christmas season) and come an year later, retail stores are in trouble and closing down. What a strange dilemma of the Western world.


Why Teens are Rebellious? February 25, 2008

Filed under: Family,News,Youth — Sam George @ 9:01 pm
Tags: , , ,

Teens and rebelliousness are synonyms (at least in most cases). I was …. how about you?There is something about being a teenager that they push the boundaries, frustrated with the way things are, feel caged in, sense their freedom curtailed, want to explore what is out there etc. Many mistakes are made, some lessons are learned.. but eventually they all grow up.

New reserach findings are out (also here). Rebelliousness among teens may stem from biology. Teen brains function differently from that of adults. The prefrontal cortex – the area that controls judgment, organization, emotions — is largely immature in a teenager’s head and if you don’t have the neural structure in place, the adolescent cannot really think things through at the same level as an adult.

Adding to the biological development of brains, there is a burst of hormones coursing through kids as they enter puberty. The hormones affect not only a teenager’s sex drive, but also lead to temporary aggressiveness and moodiness.

Next teens act weird, moms/dads/youth workers remember it is not just the teen-angust or rebelliousness, but blame it on their brains! It is a clearn sign that they need help. Although they quickly grow into adult bodies, they emotional and mental development lags behind. Of they need help in spiritual development as well.


Why Young People Stay in Church February 21, 2008

Filed under: church,Leadership,Ministries,Youth — Sam George @ 4:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

We all have seen many studies on young people who have dropped out of immigrant churches. Ever wonder if those of next generation who stay in the church, why they do? Or those who dropped out, if they ever join another church, what makes them stay there?

According to a recent study by LifeWay research, the most common reasons young people keep attending churches are:
a) Church is vital to a relationship with God(65%), b) They want church guidance in everyday life decisions (58%), c) It helps them become a betterperson (50%), d) They are committed to the purppose and work of the church (42%).

Two-thirds of the teens who stay in church as young adults describe the church as “a vital part of my relationship with God”–demonstrating the importance of each teen having a strong relationship with God, as well as the importance of church attendance.


Drinking problems among youth January 12, 2008

Filed under: Culture,News,Youth — Sam George @ 4:20 am
Tags: , , ,

Teen binge drinking is nothing new. But a recent report from BBC made it clearn long term impact of teen drinking habits. The study reported that teen drinkers are more likely to turn alcoholic, use drugs and have criminal conviction by the time they turn 30. Didn’t we all know that intuitively! Now research have proven what we all have always known.

They are 60% more likely to be alcoholic, twice as likely for conviction, 40% more likely to use illegal drugs, 40% more likely to suffer mental health problems and 60% more likely to be homeless. They were also 40% more likely to have suffered accidents, almost four times as likely to have been excluded from school and 30% more likely to have gained no qualifications.

Under age drinking is a problem for parents and teachers as well. Inspite of public awareness campaigns and restriction of sale of alcohol to minors, one can always get it when they want it. There seems to be inbuilt system loopholes. Best way to contain this problem is parental involvement with teens. Parents who can model and educate their teens about long term implications of their life choices.

Parental pressure upon children should be more than peer pressure or pressure from popular culture to conform. External pressure can only go some distance. Unless we create a inner conviction among teens against such behaviors, parents and youth workers are up against a nearly impossible task. Unless there is inner power to say no to tempations, they stand no chance to get over them. They are bound to fail.

Prevention is better than Cure!


More teens turning to sexual abstinence message October 9, 2007

Filed under: Culture,Family,News,Youth — Sam George @ 7:37 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I read with interest a news report about more teens are questioning commonly held views on teen sexual behavior and reverting abstinence as the best way. Check it out for yourself.  The report said, “more and more educators, parents and health professionals are concluding that sexual abstinence until marriage is the wisest, healthiest lifestyle for all teenagers.” What a revelation!

Every idea has a consequence. Many have paid dearly (in some cases with their dear life) for believing in the lies of sexual liberation. This is nothing new. In the past whether it be alcohocol, smoking, drug, adultery etc were promoted on account of personal freedom and rebellion against moral ground of behavioral reinforcements.

Like everything else sexual freedom and safe sex message has come a full circle. Many have fallen victim along the way on this journey. What does it take human being to align themselves to their Creator’s design and live life within the prescribed boundaries. Why are we inclined to push the limits further and further or even desiring to see what happens when moral rules are broken?

Now there enough cases to prove the point the absitence until marriage and faithfulness within marriage is the best way to enjoy sex to the maximum. Whether it poor kids in inner cities of America, red light districts in Mumbai or reversal of AIDS trend in Uganda are all proving what we all have know. Sexual purity matters, not only for ourselves but for the health of the entire communities.