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.