How many times have you felt that your parents don’t understand you, that they have no respect for you as an individual? How often do you shake your head in frustration and blame it on the ‘generation gap’? Parents! They are like aliens from another planet altogether! You and they are in different camps; strangers forced to live under the same roof Right? Wrong! There is a way of bridging what appears to be a yawning chasm. If you genuinely want to improve your relationship with your parents (and give them a big shock in the bargain!) try listening to them, treating them just like you would listen to a valued friend. Instead of always whining, ‘You don’t understand me”, stop and think. Do we ever try and understand them? Parents are under a lot of stress, too. When we are worrying about our upcoming Math exam, they are worrying about the boss in the office, and just how they are going to pay for our braces. Like us, they have days when someone humiliates them at work. Sometimes, they don’t know where the money for all the applications you send to foreign universities is going to come from. Your mom may seldom have a chance to go out and enjoy herself. Your dad’s colleagues may deride him because he cannot afford membership to a club.
Yes, weird though it may sound, parents are human too. They may have dreams they’ve sacrificed because they want you to realize yours. Once you step into their shoes and try to look at things from their point of view, two wonderful things happen; one, you feel a new respect for them, and two, you will find that you can actually get your own way without heated arguments. Today, when you come back from school or college, ask your mom or dad, “How did your day go today?” or “Tell me a little more about your job.” or “Is there anything I can do to help you around in the house?” You’ll see the visible difference it makes to the atmosphere at home. And each day, try to keep your promises – to do your homework, to clean your room and to write letters or telephone if you are living away from home. Seventy five per cent of the youngsters claimed that the teenage years were a time of stress and anxiety for them – anxiety about exams, jobs, parental expectations, peer pressure, love lives, the need to look good and dress smartly, and well, even the state of the nation.
Generation gap means difference in attitude, or lack of understanding between younger and older generation. This generation gap has always been there but these days it has reached to an explosive stage. The values and patterns of life have changed to a great extent. Today, everybody likes to live and behave in his own way. This attitude has widened the generation gap, which can never be filled. It is now destroying family life completely. The elders look after the children and make all sorts of sacrifices to bring them up. Naturally, they feel they have a right over them. They want their children to follow their instructions as they have certain expectations from them. But the children, when they grow up, want a complete freedom in their thoughts and actions and unfortunately their thoughts and actions are just opposite to those expected by the elders. They revolt when any kind of restrictions are imposed on them. Consequently, the family breaks up and everything gets ruined.
In India, we are yet in the initial stages, but the gap has appeared and it is going to grow bigger day by day. So it is not only the responsibility of the younger but also of the elders to fill this gap with their love, affection and trust. The problem, in fact, has grown and intensified due to the rise in complexities of life. These complexities have arisen in the wake of modernism where everything allied to tradition, custom and the world was to be turned upside down. The problem arises mainly when parents forget how did they behave, what problems did they encounter and what feeling did they feel when they were children, especially teenagers. When the children enter the stormy teens the problem of generation gap comes out with greater intensity then ever. Children too fail to see their parents’ point of view and blindly stick to breaking rules. For them, at this age, their friends suddenly become important dislodging the parents from the vantage point. This causes great anxiety to parents and the friction increases between the children and the parents.
At this time, grandparents can play a constructive role in order to bridge the gap of thought, attitude, and way of life and approaches to it. Generation gap is not that serious a problem if families can learn to sit over dinner and talk or sit in the living rooms over a cup of hot comforting coffee and talk the things out, ironing the difference and sharing the experiences. When this communication barrier is transcended and the ice broken, the problem does not remain that serious anymore. Talking it out calmly and coolly, with the idea of sorting things out, changing for each other and changing for better can be the most helpful instrument in bridging the generation gap. Family outings, vacations, tours, to picnic-outings, often with the family etc can be effective ways to initiate intimacy between parents and children. Watching movie and discussing them, putting forth the different viewpoints can be a beginning to inculcate the habit of a healthy dialogue between members of the family. Such small things and steps can do wonders in initiating a healthy family atmosphere and reducing friction between two generations that are right in their own respects. Their only fault is that they are viewing the same object from opposite directions. Age, time and experience or the lack of it, forces them to do so.