How we spend our leisure time is with no doubt important to us, as free-time is becoming more and more precious in this rushed modern society. But who are we spending that time with?
Young Cambodians might be spending too much time with their friends and not enough time with their own families, leading to some unforeseen troubles down the road.
Sao Kunneary, a first-year-student at Vanda Accounting Institute, said she spends nearly all of her free-time with her friends instead of her family.
“When I am with my family, especially my parents, I feel that I’m under pressure to act a certain way,” she said.
It seems more and more of the young generation rather get away from mom and dad than conform to pressure.
Them Chhaihor, 22, on the other hand, still maintains a traditional lifestyle. As a fourth-year student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, she spends almost all of her free-time with her family. She leaves Phnom Penh to see them about 10 times per month.
“I miss them and I want to look after them,” she said.
“It’s good for young people to still spend time with their families when they don’t have to be at school. It can help us understand more about the older generation, and keep building a good relationship.”
With a stark rise in the country’s crime rate, from gambling to drug abuse, many parents don’t want their children straying too far from home.
So Phal, a 40-year-old mother of two, said: “Whenever my daughters ask me for permission to go on a trip with their friends, I often say ‘no’ because I’m worried.”
“I am afraid that their friends might do something bad or illegal, and involve my daughters.” According to Phan Chanpeou, a senior counselor and psychology lecturer at RUPP, it is natural for young adults to want to stay separate from their parents.
Young adults prefer socialising with their peers, he said, and feel uncomfortable with their families.
Young adults develop the sense, although it is often false, that their families are not supportive – and therefore they cannot spend time with them, or share their feelings. Because of this, young adults rather turn to their friends instead, Phan Chanpeou explained.
Phan Chanpeou suggests that family members create a supportive environment for their children.
He said, “As parents, you have to keep time for your children or you’re failing at your job.”
“Being a parent is not like planting a banana. A child takes more than three months to grow; it takes your whole life.”
Having worked and dealt extensively with youth issues, Neang Sovathana, a radio presenter for the Lovely Night program on 106.5 FM, said that young Cambodians prefer spending time with friends because it’s simply more fun than spending time with family.
“I believe youth can reveal what they’re thinking far more easily with friends, rather than family, especially when they’re under stress,” she said.
As of late, many youth groups have been popping up and providing a change for young Cambodians to band together.
Lim Piseth, a core volunteer member at Initiatives of Change Association and at the Youth 5 Camp, said that it’s a great way for young Cambodians to spend quality time with their peers.
“I am very impressed with our youth lately,” he said.