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"Global warming, politics, Ke$ha: sometimes the future looks bleak."

talking to teenagers about the future

Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic about the future when you’re talking to your kids.

Global warming, political instability, Ke$ha … it’s easy to think the years ahead are looking bleak.

Like most families, many of our conversations happen in the car, where the kids are trapped, with little hope of escape. And those conversations are fuelled by whatever’s being talked about on the radio. Note to self: try to get into the habit of listening to Radio National more frequently.

This morning, for example, I was flooded by waves of nostalgia and memories of hair mousse when the original (and by far the best) version of Do They Know It’s Christmas was played.

I could see the video in my mind’s eye, and as I navigated the school run I named every singer as they performed their lines: Paul Young, Boy George, George Michael, Simon Le Bon, Sting …

My kids, aged 13, 11 and 8 looked at me with expressions that said who the hell is Marilyn? And, who cares anyway?

I was about to launch into a predictable, boring and largely untrue rant about how life and pop music was great and is crap now. How Spandau Ballet were far superior in every way to One Direction and how Paloma Faith owes a lot to Bananarama.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Nissan Pathfinder. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words. 

I stopped myself and we just listened to the song. I tried to think of how I could use my past to talk positively about their future.

I came up with this: I’ll talk about all the terrific things that are happening now, that I would never have believed possible in 1984. And there are heaps:

talking to teenagers about the future1. Email. How good is email? I have a love/hate relationship with social media, but that whoosh still delights me. I love a paper letter and I do still send Christmas cards but how did we work without the ‘send’ button? The fax was kinda cool (I remember when the first machine arrived in the ad agency where I worked – the managing Director’s PA was the only person allowed to use it).

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2. Digital music. Going directly to the song you wanted to hear is incredible to anyone who grew up rewinding tapes and trying to guess exactly where ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ started.

3. Mobile phones. Again, who would have thought? I remember my father saying they would never be truly portable because a keyboard can only shrink so much. Things like touchscreens or making a call while in the car via Bluetooth was unimaginable.

4. Shake And Pour pancakes.talking to teenagers about the future

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5. Air-conditioning comes as standard AND some cars even let you control the climate for different areas of the car.

6. Drinkable wine in screw top bottles.

7. Sushi in the suburbs.

8. Kindles (and other e-readers) make me happy. I find it astonishing I can buy a new novel while I’m sitting on a bus and be reading it within seconds.

9. It’s taken for granted that every person travelling in a car is entitled to an actual seat with a seat belt.

10. Pools must be fenced.

11. More and more people survive cancer.

12. We know it’s possible for a woman to be elected Prime Minister of Australia, and for a black man to be President of The United States. Progress!

13. Animated movies. Just when we think the golden age is over, along comes Frozen. And personally, I can’t wait for the new Nemo.

talking to teenagers about the future

14. Sat Nav: Seriously, how good is this invention? I couldn’t navigate my way out of a paper bag without help. If you’re anything like me, your trusty Sat-Nav will have saved your bacon countless times.

I could go on, but you get my point? Maybe we will find a clean, free energy source? Perhaps the Middle East will find peace? Maybe Ke$ha will put some clothes on?

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When you feel bleak about the future, try telling your kids about how things that were once unimaginable are real now, today. Spend a little time dreaming out loud about the great things that are yet to happen – the car’s a great place to do it.

What do you think has been the greatest invention of all time?

 Now, prepare to be flooded by waves of nostalgia with these awesome gallery of 80’s fashion. Bring on the memories …

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