Dr.Shivani Salil

A generation gap is a difference of opinions between one generation and another regarding beliefs, politics, or values. It’s more of a perceived gap between younger people and their parents or grandparents.

Coined around the 1960s when it was observed that the younger generation questioned their parents’ beliefs, now we know it’s here to stay. The only problem is, that for every difference of opinion between generations, this term is abused and misused. Elsewhere it may not make much of a difference but a parent child equation is prone to get affected by it if we are not mindful of this gap.

These days most urban households are children centric so by the time teens hit, these kids have a voice that’s heard and they have an opinion on everything that concerns them (or for that matter even if it doesn’t concern them). This is the time when the hormones are just about kicking in and mood swings start surfacing. Trouble is that although our child has outgrown the baby phase, as parents we still haven’t evolved!

Generation gap is a natural phenomenon. With the world changing so rapidly, it is difficult to keep pace with all the changes. So the world we inherited isn’t the same as our kids are getting. Just because we are older, by default of experience, we claim to be better at judging and decision making. This arrogance often makes us see the younger generation in a bad light. In turn the children believe that they know enough and their blissful ignorance often alienates them from the reality.

Life isn’t like the keys of a piano. Nothing is black and white. So none of us can claim to be totally right and neither is completely wrong either. Parents essentially have to step down from their high chair of parenting and stop being judgemental about the younger generation. Unless the older generation slips into the shoes of their young ones, they will not know what youngsters have to go through. They have their own struggles and insecurities to deal with. They are trying hard to fit in and most of the external swagger is just a way to hide their fears. Our fixed mindset just makes their job tougher. There is a need for empathy, acceptance and understanding here.

An odd behavior from a child is often a call of help. Unless we pay attention, how would we know what’s affecting them. Let’s not be in a hurry to impose our ideology on them blindly.

I read somewhere that parents should see themselves as consultants and not managers of their children.

This doesn’t mean that the entire responsibility lies with the parent. They may need to put aside their ego and take the proverbial first step but unless the child moves, it’s impossible to bridge the gap.

Respect for one’s parents is of utmost importance. Then comes trust. Children have to remember one thing above all else that all parents want the best for their kids. Share your thoughts and be open to feedback, negative or positive. Their criticism is not their disapproval. Its a stepping stone to progress in life.

Its not a one way road and it ain’t easy either. And this two way road has to be paved with communication. Believe that both of you are on the same side. Discuss and find a middle path. Agree to disagree. If the bridge seems burnt and irreparable, seek help. Counseling lets both the parties see each others perspective. It helps us acknowledge the onslaught of generation shift.

Show your growing child sensitivity, give her space and allow her to find herself. Be around so she knows you are within calling distance. Be the wind beneath her wings and be assured of your upbringing that wherever her flight takes her, like the homing pigeons, she’ll find her way home. Be sure to open your arms wide enough so she can rush over for that special hug.

Parent-child relationship is the purest of relationships in the world. Something as trivial as difference in opinion should not be allowed to sully it. Nurture it with love and handle with care.