A Teenager and A Pre-teen

Twenty years have passed when I returned from overseas. Looking back, I was an idealistic young man who was ready for work life and for family life. I had experienced a tremendous conversion and spiritual awakening in me – ready to show the world this new-found spirituality that was absent for most of my life then. If you had interviewed me at that time, the young man would have smiled while giving assurance of the eagerness to raise a family that would be God-glorifying. There was fire in the eyes, passion to tackle the big, bad horrible world, and not compromise in an often preached world full of compromising believers and worldly unregenerated men and women.

Fast forward to twenty years, to now… (my, how time has flown in an instant). The young man has now visibly aged. Though he may not look it outwardly, but the weariness is apparent in the lines on the forehead, in the downward smile that finds it difficult to lift the often disappointed cheek muscles. In a blink of the eye, I have a teenager and a pre-teen with me. The sudden realisation often causes a slight panic – have I spent sufficient time to prepare them for this world? Have I shielded them like a helicopter hovering over them at every turn? Are they ready to face up to an unrelenting world that is full of noise and “glamour” – promising excitement (always), but never delivering anything that is lasting? Am I ready to have them fall down, make mistakes, err in their judgment or (gasp!) fail in the things of life? These are the things that keep me worried, and the lines on the forehead are getting deeper as a result.

Life as a teenager and a pre-teen in the 21st century is certainly a different landscape than it was for the late 20th century Gen-Xers and Millennials. At the heart of it – the challenges ARE the same: fitting in the society, the culture – discovering your own identity. But the trappings of the external has made it so alien: TikTok videos, Instagram photos, long-repetitive and often nonsensical chat on Discords… and this is just the surface. “Ideas”, “visions”, “membership”, “success”, “friendship”, “love”… all constantly bombarding the young person’s mind – forcing them to pledge allegiance to this side or that. Pity the one who is not seen among the noisy “digital marketplace” of the “present” and “now” – these are the pariah, outcast… unreasonably brought up by conservative and outdated parents who are living in-denial (they claim).

This is where I am, at the moment. At the crossroads of major clashes in ideology, culture and belief. We want the best for our children – but the world wants something different, and often times (from my observation), the monster wins – like the Pied Piper who leads unassuming children away from their parents – the feeling is the same. I do not see a decisive victory. Not yet. The battle seems to prolong. We are left with prayer and hope.

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