We are in the middle of a generational change in the third world, especially Kenya, so it means a lot of understanding is required. Just like two groups on a negotiation table seeking peace, people will have to give and take. If there are hard-line stances, then the negotiation tends to fail. The old generation has to admit that times have changed and the world has become a small village. We can no longer give examples using our days and parents’ days. Take, for example, one cannot let the kids go to school barefoot because they did the same.
Shoes have become more affordable and there is more variety unlike during our days. Some of us who played basketball when young will tell you we are having knee problems because we loved the game but did not have proper shoes. Mitumba shoes were nowhere to be seen unlike nowadays when one can get good mitumba shoes. Communication has become a very important thing and has advanced. That means things like smartphones that we used to think belonged only to the rich have become essentials. Meaning children will need it for communication. We also know from the phone they are able to join social sites and be exposed to adult sites and drug use very easily.
When they join college, most of them would want to board or rent houses so it means they get the freedom that you have been denying them. That is where they get new friends who might make them prosper or perish. Here again it depends on how you have raised your kid and whether or not you have instilled discipline in them. This is the stage many will taste alcohol, experience sex, drugs, know the essence of saving and use of money.
When it comes to colleges, we have old administrators who still want to apply outdated rules to a generation they don’t understand. So, how do they go about it? Take, for example, how do you go about choosing the dress code?
In our days, torn jeans were seen as a sign of carelessness and poverty. For the new generation, that is fashion. We were taught to be neat, especially when it comes to hair grooming. But for the new generation, dreads or shaggy hair is fashion. They would want to walk around with socks and open shoes, which was unheard of during our time.
When they graduate and start working, they are not in the era of ties, shirts, official shoes. They dress in what they see as comfortable like T-shirts, tracksuits, sport shoes, etc. They don’t like to be confined to a desk with a desktop computer; they like working from home or a restaurant with a laptop, especially from late afternoon to early mornings. So as a human resource person, how do you manage that?
We have many examples out there but the main question is: How do we manage the change in lifestyle that is being shown by our youth because of changing times?
As we try to answer that question, we should admit the presence of a disease called mental illness, which causes suicidal thoughts, depression and has to be handled with caution. As the older generation, we have to admit times have changed and negotiation is the best way out.
The main thing should be discipline but as long as the end result is achieved we should be able to compromise on dressing, behaviour and other things. The most important link in the puzzle should be the parents who should instil discipline when the children are young and learn to talk to them.