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My Great Grandmother, Dorothy Shoemark, is a 94-year-old living alone in the rural NSW town of Wagga Wagga. Being born four years before the Great Depression and having a husband who fought at war, Dorothy wouldn’t be alone in saying she grew up in difficult circumstances. Growing up in challenging environments is part of the reason the older generation are so wise, making them always willing to locate an ear to be filled with stories of greatness.

The older generation possesses a distinct sense of wisdom that people of today will never truly un tap. Taking in years of helpful anecdotes from these individuals fills us with a sense of hope. Life is short, so satisfy it with colour and advice from those who have experienced walking the path before you.

As I walk up to Dorothy’s back gate on this delightful 27-degree day, I spy her keeping the garden in full bloom and satisfying the belly of the neighbourhood magpie. We settle in for what will be a two-hour discussion, reminiscing on her childhood, first loves and first jobs. 

“Everyone should follow their dreams and do what they want to do. Take no notice of anybody else, don’t get distracted on your journey to success,” my grandmother says at the beginning of our conversation. “If you think you can make it [in a career you love], that’s what you concentrate hard on. Do it and work your insides out.”

Dorothy says she is passionate about telling people they should work hard for what they want, as when she left school in her early teenage years she couldn’t read or write properly. Because she needed to make money to survive, she persisted and taught herself everything she knows by reading whatever she could find.

Following on from this work-related advice, Dorothy also tells me you get what you want out of work from what you put into it. “If you want money you need to go out and work for it, don’t just sit at home and do nothing,” she says with her finger pointing in the air.

“To get anywhere in this world you need to be outgoing, confident and consistent.”

Dorothy’s love advice doesn’t differ much from words in teen magazines today. As we watch the neighbourhood magpie fly back for its second helping, she tells me the key to love is all about respect. “Find someone who treats you well – a person with real respect for you,” she says. Dorothy knew her late husband was the one as even when he was sent off to war, he never forgot to write to her for special occasions, to check up on her or to provide his monthly updates – which to Dorothy, is a massive sign of respect.

In terms of self-love, Dorothy was ardent in telling me that we need to look after ourselves and our body first – as we are only blessed with this one body for our whole being. “If you look after yourself, you’ll live as long as me! In fact, if you don’t get married at all you’ll probably live past 100,” she chuckles. If an aspect within a relationship seems unsettling and you seek guidance from others, Dorothy urges that you need to take good advice when it is given to you, because more often than not they are right.

“Don’t take good advice for granted, if they tell you something that is hard to hear, it is because they care and want what is best for you,” she says.

Focussing on money, Dorothy believes it is important to always have a separate bank account just in case you need it. Keeping a portion separate from your partners ensures you have a select amount of money to keep yourself on your feet, as well as buying the occasional treats to make life exciting. “Some people don’t realise what’s in front of them. You have to rent homes, buy a property, buy or fix new appliances, have money for starting a family – it all gets very expensive,” she says. Making money all comes back to working hard, treating your bosses and employees with respect and never settling for anything less than you deserve.   

If you are privileged in this day and age to have an elderly member close by, go and tell them you love them, ring them up or even better, offer a socially distanced air hug.

Generation Alpha, the moniker given to the children born after 2010, not only resets the generational alphabet, but reflects the hope and potentiality this group promises as the first cohort born entirely in the 21st century in an age of unrivalled advancement.

Parents of these children need to ensure they don’t fulfil the tendency to project their own personal and generational ideals into teaching. Instead, treat children as unique individuals with their own inherent values and context and find that communication with flourishes easier and allowing them to be more self-actualised people.

 Dr John Demartini, notable human behaviourist, believes this caring individualistic approach to parenting is crucial in the raising of Generation Alpha to ensure they prosper in a dynamic future.

Dr John Demartini, human behaviourist

Effective communication is imperative to all successful relationships; in parent and child relationships however, it is often the weakest link. People are most responsive to suggestions that have benefits valuable to them. Thus, reframing information in accordance to a child’s values produces more constructive and efficacious communication.

You wouldn’t expect a customer to buy an item if you listed all the reasons why you personally wanted it. A skilled salesman examines the customer’s personal values and generates benefits from their perspective. Children are infinitely more receptive to instruction and guidance if the conversation comes from a position they understand wherein their own values are emphasised.

Dr Demartini’s principal recommendation to parents of Generation Alpha revolves around value determination and projection. Parents are urged to consider and care enough about the child as a real person to understand that they have their own inherent set of values and independence rather than extrapolating their own contextual ideals.

The tendency parents have to project their values onto their children autocratically will naturally be met with resistance. The assumption that the child is cast in the same likeness and values the same thing as the parent is damaging. Children end up mislabelled and sometimes mistakenly medicated out of ignorance.

“Children are customers,” says Dr Demartini. “In customer relationships, you factor in their values and their needs and establish those needs before communicating. You care enough to communicate and educate them in accordance to these values and they will be receptive and be able to incorporate that into their life and expand without resistance.

“If you project your values on to somebody and not consider what they hold in esteem you are going to get resistance. Your children will be labelled difficult people when in fact they’re just not being communicated with effectively.”

As is when someone attempts to sell you something you don’t want, children become belligerent when they are approached in a way that does not coalesce with their own intentions or perceive their feelings as bypassed.

Try avoiding imperative projection phrases: should, ought to, supposed to, got to, must.

“These authoritarian terms are almost disrespectful”, says Dr Demartini.

Caring about your child means articulating things in a manner that is understanding of their world view. They will be much more receptive and expand their capacity to listen if an instruction is coming from a line of thought they can follow by someone who respects them, rather than a demand they don’t understand from an authoritarian who speaks down mindlessly.

Teach them to think of obstacles differently; things are not IN the way, they are ON the way. By manipulating the vision of a boulder in the pathway into a building block, goals seem more achievable and accomplishment even sweeter.

Parents, generally, tend to parent in the same manner they were parented. However, after decades of thorough studies on child rearing, a traditional blanket, one-size-fits-all strategy is no longer viable.

Entering a world where the internet is a necessity rather than a luxury, gadgetry is ever advancing and encroaching and speed is a highly determinate factor, these present-day toddlers will likely set the precedent for the rest of the century. As their speed of learning increases so will their expectations; demands will be expected to be fulfilled instantly due to technological advancement. Dr Demartini notes that these new contextual factors will require change in tactics for the parents of these children.

“Their immediate access to information is increasing, thus their demands of themselves and other people will go up accordingly,” says Dr Demartini.

“Their long-term visions to do things in the future will be technologically achievable and so it is important that they are raised in a way that extrapolates their true values.”

Essentially, this generation will have not only the dream to develop the world in new ways, but the technological capacity to achieve it. It is of paramount importance that they are raised with values of the future rather than the past and have confidence and respect for themselves and their support system.

Generation Alpha children will still want to empower all seven areas of their life. They will have a desire to grow their minds, find a career path that serves themselves and others, attempt to expand their wealth, develop some sort of romantic relationship and sustain intimacy with others, monitor their physical fitness and health, fight for social justice and feel spiritually empowered. The difference is that the world is veering away from tradition and steering into a more diverse, flexible state. This distinction means that children need to understand themselves and their own values so they can move with the flow of the future rather than be stunted by the learnings of bygone eras.

“My son has 20,000 followers on YouTube. He wants to be just like PewDiePie. There was no such thing when I was growing up and I don’t entirely understand it, but I have to respect the things he values and encourage him in this new pathway,” says Dr Demartini.

“I spoke to a young lady who had a 16-year-old son many years ago. She thought he was wasting his life messing around on computers and wanted help in encouraging him to do something productive. He now has a high-ranking position as a specialist at IBM (a computer hardware company). She grew up in an era where computers didn’t really exist so she couldn’t understand the value. Each generation is going to have a technology that the generation before is not familiar with and they’re going to tend to project the past onto the future instead of respecting the present.”

You cannot expect to behave the exact same way in different relationships with different people. You have to take into account the values and personality of the person you are with; bend and flex in accordance to them.

When you are in a relationship with somebody, you don’t want them to tell you how you have to be, you want to be loved for who are. Children are no different.

For more information on Dr Demartini visit his website.