Giving our kids loved identity in uncertain future

FUTUROLOGISTS are people who like to predict the future - but not in the same way as a clairvoyant or psychic.

Futurologists look at social, political, economic, environmental, religious and media trends and draws a line forward to see where we are going and what we need to prepare for.

We often talk about this in the language of baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and, sometimes, the emerging Generation Z, Generation I and Generation Alpha.

Now, there is much to be said for exploring this kind of information in terms of understanding our world.

One of the first great futurologists was Alvin Toffler, who in his book Future Shock began to chart the sheer rate of change of our world, noting it was getting faster and faster and faster still.

For those keen to do more modern reading, I would thoroughly recommend the work of Australian social researchers

What this increased rate of change means in the lives of younger and emerging generations is that there is ever-increasing change required.

One alarming prediction I heard recently is that our children will be facing an average of four significant partner relationships.

In other words, saying "till death do us part" four times.

It is also expected average Australian family by 2035 will have moved from dad, mum and two-point-something kids to look more like partner and partner with 0.3 kids.

For those percentile kids, the consequence of this will be having multiple parents throughout their lives.

In the future, as now, the question our kids will ask themselves is: "So, who loves me now?" This will have profound repercussions on the development of our children, as their emotional well-being becomes rewritten in a way we have never seen in human history.

Already in Australia we have a divorce rate of 64% (and that's just for official partnerships, let alone more casual de facto relationships), up from 54% a decade ago.

That means our schoolyards are filled with kids emotionally shell-shocked by the sheer level of uncertainty in their lives, which they will cover so well with an online world just waiting to gobble them up with distraction and marketing.

Perhaps what this means is that we need a new way of figuring out how to separate.

In the field of social work the dominant theory is called attachment theory, but what I have seen is that attachment theory has been contaminated with a great deal of co-dependency thinking.

It is like we need to develop a "detachment" theory, a point at which we can say goodbye to another person without having to rip them apart with expectations of blame and shame.

As it is, we have a family court system - in particular the bureaucratic Child Support agency - that seems to extend and even intensify the conflict between separated parents from what might have been a six-month period to the entire developmental lifetime of a child through to adulthood.

The impact on children to have their parents live in perpetual conflict is to be emotionally ripped in half for every crucial emotional development milestone of our lives.

We are kidding ourselves if we think this doesn't matter.

We need to find a better way.

We need to find a way to love ourselves enough and to take responsibility for ourselves enough that we can say goodbye in peace.

We need to push harder than ever before to find a way to give our kids the loved identity they so desperately need, now and in the future.

Topics:  future man alive opinion parenting paul stewart relationships

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