This post has been inspired after reading the Guardian article Globalisation Once Made the World Go Around. Is it About to Grind to a Halt?

We’ve all been caught off-guard by the big political events of 2016. Brexit was a surprise at home and in the international community; a lot of those who voted to leave the EU didn’t actually see it coming. And then there’s President Trump; who knew that he would come from the back of the pack to winning the US presidential election? Any doubt about his motives were put aside after his inauguration speech and the recent ban on immigrants entering the country. He is cutting off from the world and putting America first. So where does this leave globalisation and what does it mean to how millennials will bring up their children?

The millennial parent has grown up in a world of increasing globalisation.

For those born from the 1980s onwards we have only ever known life inside the European Union. We barely remember the last days of the Cold War, but we may recollect images of the Berlin Wall coming down. This was a world of increasing technical connection, with the advent of the world wide web, instantaneous access to information and communication. I presumed this would simply continue; that I was a global citizen and the UK was a global hub where people came together and did business. I assumed this was a world that my daughter would inherit when she becomes an adult in 2030.

And then 2016 happened and we have started to witness the end of the 20th century globalisation experiment.

My daughter is four years old and she will only know a UK outside the European Union. She will spend the next four years of her life learning about and hearing from a President of the United States who preaches protectionism and division with the words “America First”. And she will see as other European countries start to challenge the system and shout “[My country] first!

How do we explain this new world to our children? More importantly, how do we prepare them for it?

Whatever our views there’s no sense debating the outcome. We simply have to move forward. With hindsight, I think the backlash against globalisation is entirely natural and we should have looked out for it. We are not solitary animals. We live in family units of 2, 3, and 4+ in our homes around the world. We choose to join with other family units through friendships, shared interests and backgrounds and through these we form communities. We are part of local regions, each with their own sense of identity. And on a wider scale we live in societies with elected governments. Those governments then represent us as whole and make decisions on our behalf.

The problems come when our sense of belonging, so important to the family unit, is removed and the decisions and powers that govern us become centralised.

People have seen this form of swift globalisation and seen their choices and powers eroded. Take the wonky banana story as an example. I think the world is being pushed together too fast and people are beginning to revolt against it. It’s not that people want to be apart from the rest of the world, but their core sense of identity has been degraded. People want to be connected to others but they’re not ready to be thrust together quite so soon; we still have too many differences.

So how do we prepare our children for the years ahead?

The UK is out of the EU and our country has to renegotiate its relationships not just with our European neighbours but also with other countries around the world. It may take many years and the children of millennial parents may even be adults by the time it’s sorted. But it may never be truly sorted. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing; it will force us to look at the world afresh and decide how we want to engage with others. In order to help our children grow into this new world, we must be increasingly engaged with one another. We should make an effort to show them the world from another point of view. This doesn’t mean simply googling information on other cultures and interests, rather we must make an effort to meet people from all different backgrounds. We should teach them the importance of working with others and cooperating. We should tell them to be proud of who they are, to have a sense of identity and belonging, and an obligation to live their values. We hear a lot about the importance of patriotism from people like Trump. Pride in your country is a good thing as long as it’s not at the denigration of others. Our children should have pride in the good that their country does in the world, not just in how powerful their country is.

The first attempt at globalisation in the 20th century was a good start but it hasn’t quite worked out yet.

Maybe it was forced on people too soon. The millennial parent has grown up in a semi-globalised world but now we’re back to the drawing board. If we bring up our children to be global citizens, they will hopefully make positive decisions when they are in charge. So let’s look forward, not back. And outwards, not in.

 

Do you remember when you were young and thought the best job in the world might be President or Prime Minister? There was always something impressive about “running the country”. I was taught to look up to our country’s leaders.

I’m following the state of politics in the US and the UK right now and I’m pretty appalled. 

How can I teach my daughter to look up to people who shout, threaten, and some case physically attack each other? Of course, you can say it’s always been like this. As a boy I didn’t know about the miners’ strikes in the UK, the end of the Cold War, the poll tax riots, or the backstabbing of fellow politicians. When I was young I looked up to politicians, the police, teachers. But they’re just people like anyone else; I know now that I can’t expect them to be perfect. Politicians are just the same. Quite frankly, if I came across anyone behaving too perfectly, I would be suspicious. 

The big thing I’m trying to reconcile right now, as a parent, is how can I encourage my daughter to look up role models in politics, knowing that I have so little respect for some of these people. 


When someone like Donald Trump can be in the top two candidates for the most powerful job on Earth. It shouldn’t come down to this. When the UK referendum hinges on the argument about how many migrants we let in, and then when I see a picture of a two year old drowned on a beach in Italy.

There have always been people abusing the system. I’m sure it’s always been like this. Hasn’t it?

Politics is just one area where I struggle as a millennial dad. We’re more connected than ever before and bad news is all around us. I need to show my daughter examples of people to look up to but the older (and more cynical) I become the harder I find it. 

No one is perfect. Me included. And that’s a lesson that every child needs to learn at some point. I just hope I can point my daughter to people with good qualities and they will inspire her. I have no stake in the upcoming US elections, but the shockwaves of whoever wins will reverberate around the world. While both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made mistakes, I hope the one who is willing to learn from them the most will win on November 8. 

Sorry if it’s a little too early to do politics on my new blog. I haven’t quite worked out the etiquette yet!