Adults and young people, one confused and dangerous identity


Today we are confronted with a generation of young people and of adults who are very distant from what we might expect but are incredibly specular, and consequently cause perplexity and disillusionment, all of which is reflected in a new, uncertain concept of family and society. Educating has become an increasingly difficult, at times impossible task. People tend to think that it is pointless to set boundaries and to lay down rules; they believe that “saying no” belongs to the past, to a time when great psychologists like Bollea and educators were still in a position to guide struggling parents and were indeed capable of doing so. Today instead the messages that come from various areas of education are clashing, confused, at times incomprehensible, while adults feel powerless, cling to old patterns that are associated with personal feelings of guilt and that easily cause them to give in to all of their childrens’ wishes, to try to give young people what they missed in their own life. Unfortunately these attitudes and mindsets have contributed significantly to the dispersion of a common identity. Adults today go out of their way to surround their children with wellbeing, to shield them from the difficulties of confrontation and the danger of failure, pushing them to pursue fame and fortune. Many – virtually all – parents enroll their children in all sorts of programs and activities, raising them to be competitive. So these young adults-to-be develop a growing sense of superiority even in the absence of concrete results. As this happens, the sense of identity thins out without anyone worrying about or actually bothering to lay down rules, set boundaries, educate or try to envisage how these children and adolescents will grow up. It has become imperative to forbid something, to say No for once, to be authoritative when trying to correct and, if necessary, to punish. The current climate of permissiveness and laxity does not affect only young people but has likewise pervaded the world of many adults, of all those forever-adolescents who dodge the difficulties of a responsible life. In this atmosphere in which “anything is possible” there is no room for a sudden obstacle, for a parental figure – real or internalized – that for the sake of “educating” forbids something, standing in the way of a wish being fulfilled. Indeed, wishing has become inextricably attached to material things, part of an individualism that makes it impossible to even consider the feelings and emotional needs of others. Many young people who are overprotected and constantly doted on even intimidate adults who, deprived of their authority, no longer dare to contradict guilt-mongering and menacing adolescents. On the other hand, many adults who grew up in a society in which what matters most is outward appearance, self-image and prestige, and were raised to pursue utter superficiality, in their own turn disregard rules and eliminate anyone who stands in their way. Reality becomes almost like a videogame in which you can wipe out whoever stands in your way without feeling guilty or considering the consequences of your actions. This process eventually leads to Violence, in all its forms. And so it happens that a parent – a father or a mother as the case may be – starts using his or her children callously to seek revenge on the other parent, harassing him/her, making false accusations, resorting to a superficial society that does not regard family dynamics, is sympathetic towards the strongest or most persuasive, or women and men who try to destroy each other just to deprive the other of his/her freedom, driven by resentments or by a pointless competitiveness, and go so far as to commit indiscriminate acts of physical cruelty, even murder. The power that derives from a role is no longer in the hands of those people who show respect for the other, who, instead, is regarded as a weakling and a loser; rather, it is wielded by those who forcefully and cynically reject the values of human rights and the family that were previously essential to a society that was not as broken and unstable as is today’s. Young people – children and adolescents – together with adults now tread a shaky and ever-changing ground where one finds certainties only in self-centered delusions of fame and prestige, where human life sometimes counts for nothing. One should feel again the strong need to escape Violence, which, in the worst cases, becomes part of daily life and actually stifles the soul, fills one with illusions and makes one believe that it is the royal road to a freedom that actually reveals one’s personal misery.

In many cases, in fact, people no longer strive to achieve their personal and personalized goals. Standardization is the paradox of this society in which the general pursuit of success, which requires social climbing, ultimately puts everyone on the same level, obviously without their having reached the much-coveted fame and fortune; so people brag about their purported achievements, which usually do not extend beyond the bounds of their own microworld, which is encircled by another microworld and so on, like in a game of nesting dolls, until they lose sight of themselves and of their individual story. When faced with the choice of either giving up the individualism that elicits dreams of glory and makes them feel all-powerful, or dealing with a reality in which nothing is achieved quickly and easily, many people are baffled at first and have no doubt as to which way to go. They are tempted to take the easy road, lured by the myth of a perfect life, but they only need to turn their gaze to the future in order to realize that it would be a huge mistake to think that things will never change, that one will prevail over everything and everyone and reach overambitious goals cynically and disregarding others. Nowadays Adults and young people, who equally feel all-powerful and superior, are losing their true individuality and, in the absence of barriers, sense ever more clearly that their true and profound needs are spilling over them: the need to experience emotions, to be loved and respected, knowing that everyone can bring to bear his/her personal worth and all the features that make him/her different from others and special in his/her individuality. The awareness – combined with a strong sense of responsibility – of what is happening inside and around them is the first step towards achieving a change that would restore their dignity and authoritativeness as adults, thus allowing them to regain their role as educators and become a model to follow, in order to start to contribute again towards the building of a real personal and, most importantly, social identity.

Dr. Stefania Jade Trucchi