Barbadians in the older age groups are often bewildered by the growing counter culture among the millennials and Gen Z sections of our population.
They cannot fathom the under 40s’ lack of appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices of their parents to ensure that they enjoy a better life and standard of living. They are baffled by the fact that despite their tertiary level education, people in these generational groups are stumped by simple questions on current affairs.
At the same time, most mature Barbadians try to keep their heads down, working to ensure that they accumulate enough money and assets to safeguard a reasonable level of financial independence during their retirement years.
As they do so, there are many activities occurring in the online world to which they are clueless and as a result they are unable to factor in the impact of these on the behaviour of our younger citizens.
An example of this activity is the ongoing feud between a well-known lady of the night and a highly credentialed young female educator.
The online feud, which is being followed by thousands, has resulted in several expletives-laced tirades by both women and equally cringe-worthy songs.
These are the kinds of foibles to which many of our young people are attracted. One of the controversial “musical comebacks” speaks to the priority of money over morals.
If one were to take the lyrics of this song as an indication of the general mindset of young people, but more specifically, young women, we would be forced to conclude that materialism remains the main concern.
Many of our young women are not afraid to verbalise what they want and that they are prioritising a celebrity-type lifestyle, entertainment, and material possessions. Simply put, they want money, as the underground hit song suggests.
We do not seek to be critical of those who crave financial success. For while money may not bring happiness, it certainly makes living much easier in an outrageously high-priced environment.
In the efforts of our more mature citizens to understand the mindset of younger folks, it is necessary to contextualise matters such as the falling birth rate and its impact on overall development planning.
It is important to understand these things are not siloed but are interconnected in real ways.
Young female millennials and those from Generation Z want to live fulfilled lives and are not constricted by traditions and norms.
‘Gen-Zers’ have been characterised as ambitious and money-driven. It is highly unlikely that women in these age-groups (born between 1981 and 1996 and those born between 1995 and 2012), who are in the prime of their reproductive years are choosing to put child rearing on the back burner or cancel the idea completely.
While the debate about the need to increase the birth rate has been ongoing in Barbados for more than a decade, our neighbours in St Lucia say the situation there is worrying.
Speaking a week ago at an event in Constitution Park, Castries, the country’s chief medical officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George made a case for more St Lucian women of child bearing age to have more children.
In fact, she called on them to have at least two children, saying those women of reproductive age who have not “contributed” to regenerating the population should add to their quota promptly.
Dr Belmar-George contended that at least two offspring would be the solution to St Lucia’s ageing population.
This is a situation that is being replicated across the region. However, what our policymakers have failed to address is the interconnectedness between financial independence and the lack of desire by young women to devote 18 or more years of their lives to taking care of children.
As the underground song indicates, “women want money”, and if they do become mothers, they want partners who are fully involved and immersed in their parenting role.
Young women are also rightly rejecting the idea that their contribution to society should be measured in the number of children they have produced.