Beware the rise of the durian generation

Move over, Strawberry Generation. There’s a new generation in town. The Durian Generation. They are obnoxiously repugnant, soft on the inside, but they are protected by this hard, thorny husk that hurt anyone who dares to go against them. That thorny husk is their over-protective, over-indulgent parents who cannot bear to see the soft, week and obnoxiously repugnant children get hurt for whatever reasons.

The Durian Generation was in the news recently.

The first piece was a mother writing to ST to complain that SAF does little to protect recruits from the haze. The mother goes as far as to ask what measures are being taken to keep out unhealthy air from bunks where the NSFs are housed.

Wow. What a thorny, prickly husk this mother is!

While it is definitely necessary to ensure that our NSFs, the most important asset of our defence force, train safely. But their training also has to be realistic and tough. Because the survival of our nation depends on it.

Imagine what could potentially happen if we mollycoddle NSFs just because of the haze. Our potential aggressors just need to wait till the next haze incident. Then they can launch their offensive. They would be assured that the personnel of our armed forces would not have the physical ability to push themselves to achieve operational success under hazy conditions. Isn’t that a grave loophole in our defence doctrine?

The next piece that featured the Durian Generation and their prickly husks is a report of a boy who got injured playing with dry ice.

A 10-year old boy and his friends bought a piece of dry ice from an ice-cream vendor, threw it into a bottle of water, screwed the bottle cap tight. Naturally, the sublimation of the carbon dioxide caused its volume to increase by up to 800 times, which led to the bottle “exploding”. That caused some minor cuts on the fingers and wrists of the boy.

And guess what the father of the injured boy say? He said that he would not scold his son, because he feels it is natural for children that age to do insensible things. Instead, the father blamed the vendor for selling the dry ice to the boy. The thing is, the boy had been scolded by his grandmother a week before the incident for playing with dry ice.

It is true that children and teens are naturally curious and would experiment with many different, sometimes dangerous, things. But that does not absolve them from having to take responsibility for their own actions. And it certainly doesn’t help when parents jump in and puts the blame on other people. Shouldn’t they instead reflect on how they, as parents, can educate their children for accepting consequences of their actions.

The parent should let the boy know that he alone should bear sole responsibility for getting himself injured. He could then teach the boy about the physics and chemistry of why that “explosion” occurred, the safety precautions required in handling dry ice and the uses of dry ice. And perhaps encourage the boy to start a campaign to educate other children of how to handle dry ice safely. All these are infinitely more productive than complaining about the ice cream vendor who sold the piece of dry ice.

The attitudes of these two parents are part of a worrying trend. Those two parents are just examples of a bigger problem. We hear of parents berating teachers who try to discipline children. We hear of parents who raise hell the moment their kids get a tiny scratch. Parents are so protective of their children to the extent of turning them into useless, self-entitled mush. Maybe that’s why you have youths who think that it is their god-given right to have it easy for their job-hunting process.

As it is, life in Singapore is pretty comfortable for most of us. If we insulate them even more from the harsh realities of the world, we blunt their ability to compete with the rest of the world. If we hand them everything they want on a silver platter, then they will never be hungry enough to truly fight for the things that they want. And that is why we have this situation where we complain about foreign talents.

More than the ability to do well in exams, more than academic ability (which is very different from the ability to do well in exams), our youths need to pick up useful skills. More than skills, our youths need to develop grit, hunger, passion. Mollycoddling them won’t help them develop the right sort of attitude and fortitude of character. Instead, I think parents in Singapore need to let kids suffer more. Let them get banged and bruised a little. Let them fall and fail once in a while. It’s ok.  Whatever doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.

Or… at least let them do housework.

Whatever it is, parents, please halt the rise of the Durian Generation. Otherwise, we will not be able to meet the key challenges raised in the speech by Ambassador-at-large, Mr Bilahari Kausikan.

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27 thoughts on “Beware the rise of the durian generation

  1. Re: dry ice incident – reminds me of the poor little boy who fell out of his family’s flat cos the window grilles weren’t installed yet. The parents blamed the contractor for not having installed the grilles earlier.

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  2. It is natural for parents to want to provide the best for their children; especially so those from the previous one and two room flats who did well academically and went to succeed in their jobs and careers. Whilst that experience honed their values and I am sure, they do share these with their children, they do not wish to see their children go through what they went through. So in the process, they do sometimes spoil and overindulge their kids. It is a difficult balance.

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    • @LIFE begins@58:

      I agree. It isn’t an easy balance. I am not a parent myself so I cannot say I fully understand how difficult it is. But I certainly hope that parents can be a bit more enlightened and understand that it is better for children to experience some manageable suffering now while the parents are still around to guide them through the suffering rather than to experience traumatic suffering in the future when they are not. Letting kids do some chores is a simple way to achieve that. Also, not snapping at teachers when teachers discipline the child is another. Work with the teachers. Not against the teachers. Not easy. But I think it can be done. Right?

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  4. When my daughter was still very young and learning to walk, she fell down alot, sometimes very hard, my mom will be there to blame the ground for being naughty, till slowly I kept reminding my mom not to do so, also also my daughter become better in walking.

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  5. U know, i would most of this down to the fact that parents are spending less time with their kids. They leave them with secondary caregivers (who oddly become primary caregivers like maids) and definitely, parents have this sense of guilt for not spending enough time with their kids. This results in parents molly coddling their kids to compensate for time not spent with them. Discipline the child is not done and at times, bad behaviour is condoned by having the parents giving in to the child’s whims and fancies.

    We can draw comparisons with the western societies where disciplining a child often, does not mean spanking In fact, it’s outlawed in several western countries (WELFARE DRIVEN STATES OK). However, because the society functions to allow at least one parent home most of the time, it’s the exception to see such a bratty kid. I’m not saying bratty kids don’t exist there. They do, but not at this pervasive rate we see in Singapore.

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  6. When i read this post, it is obvious to me that the person writing it is not a parent. There are many valid points in this article eg. We shouldn’t be molly collding kids, they should be allowed to do housework etc. However i disagree with the reaction to the 2 incidents. It is fair for the parent of the SAF man to seek understanding on what measures are being done to protect the recruits during the haze. Soldiers who have to fight in a war where they know the enemy will use toxic gas wear gas masks. What is wrong is that she asked for training to be stopped. Training should continue but with adequate protection. With regards to the case about dry ice. Both parties can be blamed. In a more caring and educated(thinking) society, the store holder can be expected to educate a young boy who might not have the capacity to understand the dangers of dry ice. Just as we put warning labels on household cleaning agents that appear to be harmless, a seller of dry ice can indicate to their client (especially a young boy) that dry ice is not a good toy.

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    • The mother also asked SAF what is being done to protect NSFs while they were in their bunks… It sounded like she expected SAF to air-conditioned the bunks to protect the NSFs from the haze. I think that that is simply going too far.

      I agree that the vendor could have done more to warn the boy to be careful. But really. Dry ice isn’t generally dangerous. In fact, it is dangerous in a very limited number of ways. What happened to the boy could have also happened if he dropped many pieces of mentos sweets into a bottle of Coke and shook it hard enough with the cap screwed in. Should NTUC be scolded for selling mentos and Coke to the boy then? Should the person at the check-out counter at NTUC warn the boy not to play with mentos and Coke like that if the boy bought mentos or Coke from NTUC?

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      • Hahaha… good one! Even if the cashier can warn the boy; what if he buys Pepsi instead? U get my point? 1001 ways for that boy to circumvent all sorts of warnings no matter how sincere they can be.. Not like NTUC only got that 1 boy customer for the entire day.

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  7. Agree with most of the content but not this ==> ” And that is why we have this situation where we complain about foreign talents”. We complain abt FTs who aren’t competent at all. I’ve worked with Indians and Pinoys, and a lot are trash. A so-call Java expert can’t fix a problem in 1 week, ends up I have to research on my own for 3 days and fix it! And he dare to ask me how did I do it!

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  8. As a mother of 3, I AGREE that parents nowadays are too PROTECTIVE of the children. If our boys in NS are going to be so protected, how are they going to defend our country in times of war??

    Both dry ice incident as well as the window grill incident are the fault of the parents for lacking in educating the children. Even if they did educate the children, they should NOT put the blame on others.

    Nowadays, I see parents in public places allowing the children to do anything they want to do. Like running around in shopping centres, supermarkets, food court, etc… and when the child no matter how young was screaming on top of their lungs, the parents just sat there. HELLO!!! don’t they know that their child’s scream doesn’t sound like music to the ears??

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  9. The issue with this Durian generation is because the PARENTS themselves are also being sheltered by their parents.

    For the child who fell off HDB, is the contractor supposed to be looking after his kid?

    For the boy who got injured by dry ice, I bet the father was also protected by his father, that’s why he’s turning out this way.

    For the mother who complained about NS not protecting the boys, her idea of National Service is just there to waste 2 years instead of really thinking that her son is contributing to the protection of Singapore.

    It’s parents like them, who are brought up in the WRONG way, that contributes this to the next generation!

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  10. seriously i have no idea what are the parents today doing at all. their kids bump into someone and THEY glare at that person. they insist on letting their 5+ year old kids to sit on public transport when that age is when the kids are capable of standing already. My parents were teaching me to let my seats up to the elderly when i was 5. and look whats happening now. some 5 year olds are still being pushed around in strollers.
    last time when i passed every single subject but was bottom 10 of the class, i would get scolded and caned at home. now? scold teachers for the bad grades. super wonderful society
    i wonder why so much can change in the past 10+ years @@

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    • And when the kids are entering the working age, and get scolding by their employer, wonder if their parents will take action against the employer.

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  11. Lol at that cynical argument, one moment parents complain about the haze and the measures taking to protect the soldiers from haze, and then right away talk about training safely and tough, are you even listening to yourself dude?

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      • We really take our NSmen for granted. The haze is at unhealthy levels and while civilians are at home enjoying air conditioned rooms, the NS men are sacrificing their time and health in the haze protecting Singapore. When there’s war, even if there’s haze, soldiers will continue to fight.

        Conscription itself is a sacrifice many individuals have to put up with for the defence of the country and yet we can’t even show gratitude and take care of their welfare? They defend Singapore who defends them? It should be women – the mothers, sisters, wives, no in fact all Singaporeans should lobby for their welfare. Discipline and endurance is important, but their welfare is even more important because they could spend the two years of their lives producing more efficiently in the workforce and yet they have to do their service for the country to protect us. When war arrives, it will depend on how much the soldiers love our country, hate the enemy and fear authority that soldiers don’t commit mutiny or desert the country. The welfare is not something only the so called durian generation deserves, this is something all NS men deserves regardless of what generation they come from. It should be an entitlement for NS men to be protected since they are the very ones who protect Singapore, why is it only recently that parents start to lobby for their welfare?

        And for the durian generation thing, you should not blame the an entire age group arbitrarily, those serving NS now are still part of generation Y, where they are mostly labelled as Strawberry generation slammed by previous generations. Many of them are the ones who blames generation Z as the Durian generation (as seen in Facebook shares). This is an evil cycle of blame, when I was 5 I heard people in 40s slam those in their 17s the very same way they are doing so today. It’s as though the previous generation has a hole in the heart that they are envious such that they criticize even when its unnecessary.

        I am from generation Z and I tell you why we are generation superior to our predecessors (Y and X). Because we are born in a golden age of development – we’ve seen ideals succeed, we’ve seen technology develop, we’ve had the best education, we’ve watched many touching and inspiring stories as we grow up – we are a generation of tough idealists. Amos Yee did not have the support of his parents at first (taking aside his difference in beliefs) he stood strong on his principles until his mother relented and he stopped his antics.

        Don’t label generations as fruits because we are assuming that they will turn out to be rotten (or shit if eaten).

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      • Generation Z is superior to your predecessors? On what basis? What has this generation achieved to prove that this generation is better? What do you have to substantiate the claim that Generation Z is a “generation of tough idealists”? And even if Generation Z are able to achieve more, so what? As you rightly pointed out, Generation Z had things so much easier, given so much more opportunities, blessed with much better resources. If like that still cannot do great things, then the Generation Z is truly and utterly useless.

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