Connecting with Culture
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One of the special things about my young years was family dinner every evening. We each shared the joys and challenges of the day, and I always felt listened to. Now, as a mum, that’s an important tradition for me to pass on to my son.
Listening to our children is important on a national scale too. Dame Rachel de Souza DBE, the Children’s Commissioner for England, is tasked with doing just that. In March last year, her office launched a national survey of England’s children so we could understand the state of the nation for them, truly written in their own words.
Over half a million children spoke in the largest response of its kind anywhere in the world. The data reveals a generation with shared concerns and ideas about what’s important across age, gender, and ethnicity. As survivors of a global crisis, Generations Z and Alpha are emerging stronger and prematurely wise. In de Souza’s words, ‘this is not a “snowflake generation”. It is a heroic generation.’
They speak of the deep need for real communication between family and friends, and critically, between generations. They believe in family, want community, and to be healthy – mentally and physically. They want to escape the digital labyrinth in which they’re trapped and to be involved in activities and sport. They want to feel safer, and to engage in and address issues about regional inequality, injustice, prejudice, and the environment. They like school and see education as important in and of itself, but also as a pathway to opportunity and fulfilling careers.
In The Message version, Psalm 127:3–4 says:
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!
The English children de Souza surveyed want to be part of reimagining a new society. But as she states: ‘the window of opportunity is brief and if we let this moment pass, and all that attends it, then why ask in the first place? We simply go back to where we started’.
Our children are talking, but I’m not convinced we are actually listening. Why not take some time out with the children on your frontlines, at home, in your community, at church, and in your local schools, and sit back and listen – really listen?
Director of Church of England Relations, LICC