We do not want our young to grow up in split families
We are appalled by the deep divisions that have been created – and are still being reinforced by government actions – within so many British families by the EU referendum process. We want to do all we can to help to restore mutual trust and respect between the older generation and their children and grandchildren.
For many families, the referendum vote has wounded the instinctive bonds of affection between parents and their children, grandparents and their grandchildren, wives and husbands, sisters and brothers. And it has also damaged long-standing friendships and the harmony of the communities in which we live.
The healing process may take many years.
The most painful divisions are between older and younger generations. But they are also the ones that can be most easily healed. The problems stem mainly from the fact that the majority of over-65 year olds voted to leave the EU, while the majority of the under-50’s – who saw themselves voting not just for themselves but also as uncounted proxies for the millions of their children – voted to remain in the European Union.
The young hold the key to Britain’s future greatness
The majority of the young are understandably resentful that that they are being unfairly corralled, in the name of democracy, into a future, shaped largely by their elders, that they do not want.
The under-50’s are the ones whose lives will be most affected by whatever actions are taken. They are also the ones whose full engagement, creativity and energy are vital for Britain’s future success.
What Mrs. May is now doing shows no respect for the democratically expressed preferences of the young who hold the key to Britain’s future, but is hammering home the wedge that splits families and communities and could destroy our United Kingdom. There is a real threat, between now and the end of March (when the government says it will invoke Article 50), of a dangerous rise in the existing inter-generational tensions.
The referendum gave the government a license to leave the EU but it did not set a date for this nor did it sanction reckless driving up a garden path into the unknown.
For many older people, life’s joys come from sensing their kids’ happiness
We believe that the government and particularly MPs would have to be responsive to clear signals from many older people that they now acknowledge that the younger generations deserve to have the greatest say in shaping their own future. This would not be to deny the referendum verdict but it would create space for a more sensitive interpretation of what it means for those who stand to be most affected by it.
It could justify an acceptance by politicians that the rush to leave the EU no longer has the same support amongst the old that was so evident on 23rd June.
We will try to nudge this change in mood amongst the older generation, focusing mainly on cases in which families have been split when older family members have voted to “leave” and younger ones have opted to “remain”. We will not call on older people to renounce their own values or to “regret” their vote, but simply to signal to their off-spring that they respect their aspirations. We will invite younger people to set aside their indignation, showing understanding for the values that led their elders to vote as they did.
The prospects that such a shift could be induced are promising:
- There are 14 million grandparents in the UK. Many are distressed about the damage done to their families by the referendum fallout but feel helpless about it, even fearing to discuss it in case this makes matters worse.
- No parent or grandparent wants to have their children growing up in divided families. It is instinctive for older generations to promote harmony in their families and to care for the future of their children and especially their grandchildren, even when they hold different views.
- It is equally instinctive for younger people to have deep emotional attachments to their grandparents: though feeling let down by them in the referendum, they want the relationship to be re-set to normal.
- Simply by reassuring younger family members that, whatever way they voted, they continue to enjoy their full respect and support, grandparents and others can open the door for restoring mutual trust.
The challenge is how to sow and nurture three ideas
- First, that showing respect for the expressed wishes of the majority of young people is fundamental for ensuring a successful follow-up to the referendum.
- Secondly, that the process of healing the intergenerational split must start from within divided families and can work mainly through reinforcing instinctive behaviours. One there is progress here, other divisions will start to heal.
- Thirdly, that evidence of a growing consensus between old and young within families will help to embolden politicians to be more responsive to the verdict of young voters, even if this could imply cancelling or postponing Article 50 invocation.
The Future of Our Children
We do not intend to engage in direct campaigning. There are lots of existing campaigns with similar goals and some may wish to draw on – and adapt – our ideas in their work.
Instead, we are created this website as a “resource hub” or “knowledge exchange” for use by like-minded people, institutions and campaigns. There is no charge for using the site and no formal membership.
We are building up a small foundation of initial materials to get the ball rolling. Over time, the majority of the site content will come from all of you.
We will try to keep the main focus on the healing of inter-generational divisions. We will leave it to others to discuss the merits of hard or soft Brexit, migration, the single market etc
Please look at the initial material on the site and share it with others.
If you like feel that this site could, as it grows, be useful to you, please ask us to put you on our mailing list.
We are keen to post on the site:
- Comments on any displayed material.
- Stories, recordings, videos, photos etc. about experiences of divided families, friendships and commnities, and how these have been healed.
- Blogs, articles and short messages.
- Links to relevant sources of information, publications, newspaper articles.
- Links to your own set-up.
- Notices of future events and reports on completed ones.
When you submit material, please say if you want to be named as source or if you prefer anonymity.