Monday, June 6, 2011

A New Generation

I observe the comportment (what an archaic term) of the younger generation under 20 due to my many years in education, no matter whether I see them in stores, at sports events, in airports, and this week on a cruise that sailed from Port Canaveral in Florida on the massive Freedom of the Seas.

It is very encouraging to see a little one coaxed through an hour at a dinner table without disturbing the other diners. The five to one ratio could have been a key. When a two-year-old is cuddled and encouraged by a set of parents, a set of grandparents, and a favorite uncle, it produces remarkable results. When she was happy and doing well, she sat at the table in a booster seat. If she got upset, someone quickly and quietly removed her from the room until she settled down before they returned to the table.

It is impressive when a sixteen year-old-arrives at a breakfast dining table sans parents,  politely introduces himself,  engages the adults at the table in mature conversation, and displays table manners to make a mom proud. Even when leaving the table, he shook the hands of the adults present at the table. Wow!

I probably shouldn't venture a guess for the reasons why the kids on board were so calm, engaging, mannerly and pleasant as we shared a vacation space. Ordinarily we would try to avoid excessive contact with youngsters on vacations but this experience was very positive.

On one occasion we were on an elevator with two teenagers who opened a conversation with us. I was impressed with their composure and ability to joke and converse with strangers. They were very friendly, poised and confident. 

The generation under 20 has grown up with "social networking" and technology so it wasn't surprising to see how at ease a five-year-old was with the large board interactive touch screens on each deck where they could search the screens for locations of the pool, theater, shops, dining, or the wave rider.

Certainly credit is due for the extensive youth activity program provided by Royal Caribbean (which also has a curfew for the youth) but I suspect the quality of parenting is to be commended. I would like to think that the input of dedicated educators played a role also in the behavior of youth that I observed during the week.

The minors on board seemed to have had many travel opportunities and were sophisticated by a great variety of cultural experiences in their young lives; some could switch languages with ease. The parents seemed to be from the upper socioeconomic and educational ranks and to have brought along their progeny with an enviable richness of experiences.

We were a bit concerned when we learned that we were booked next to a family of two adults and four "minors". Turns out they were late teens/early twenties young adults who occasionally were on their balcony and we could hear their relaxed, mature conversations. There was no loud, raucous noise, no drunken parties--just young people on vacation with parents.

It is a warm, fuzzy moment to observe that the younger generation has stepped up to the plate and many are more than capable of managing the world of today. At least some parents and educators have done a commendable job. It was a very enjoyable vacation.


  1. I found it very heartening to think that the younger generation has caring, thinking people included in the mess that the media serves up to us. Thank you for the very inspirational post.

  2. What a lovely holiday - and lucky you that met such charming youngsters. I'm afraid it depends entirely on the upbringing though - over here we have some delightful young persons ... but sadly that is not the norm - but that goes for the older generation too!

  3. Funny thing about that older generation. The most obnoxious person I saw was a middle-aged lady who should have known better. She was drinking, loud, and pushy. I'm all for a glass of wine with dinner, but excessive alcohol leads to nothing but bad behavior. She was inconsiderate and selfish and I think it was the alcohol talking. She should have to watch a video of herself and see how she looks when drinking. Excessive alcohol consumption creates a lot of problems for people.