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The Diminishing Generation Gap
By Chandroo D

Sometimes, when my brother in law and his teenage daughters listen to rock music together and talk about the latest pop culture, interests they both enjoy, I recall my more distant relationship with my parents when I was a teenager.  I would never have said to my dad or mum, “The Cliff Richard’s new album is really awesome! – How do you like it?  There was just a complete gap in opinions, habits and behavior.

Music was not the only topic.   We simply did not share any common ground.  From clothing and shoes to activities and expectations, earlier generations of parents and children often appeared to revolve in separate orbits.

The older generation of the past was generally authoritative and insisted on discipline from their children.  They would make every effort to protect them and guide them to be a responsible adult.

Today, the generation gap has not disappeared, but it is shrinking in many families.   The old authoritarian approach to discipline – a harsh "Do exactly as I said so" – is giving way to a new cooperative truce and a "Come, let us find a solution together" attitude.

The result can be a rewarding closeness among family members. Conversations that would not have taken place a generation ago – or that would have been awkward, on subjects such as sex and drugs – now are comfortable and common.  And parent-child activities, from shopping to sports, involve an easy feeling of friendliness that can continue into adulthood.  No wonder greeting cards today carry the message, "To my mother/father, my best friend."

But the new equality can also have a downside - diminishing respect for parents.  Many a times, children are defiant and refuse to take an advice from an experienced parent.  They consider themselves smarter and tend to follow their own instinct and eventually learn from their own lessons the hard way.

There's still a lot of strict, authoritarian parenting out there, but there is a change happening.  In the middle of that change, there is bound to be a lot of confusion among parents.  In this modern environment, one must realize that children bound by rules and regulations can easily stray away quietly and enter forbidden areas secretly behind their backs.  It is human nature to always want something you don’t have or crave for when you are young.

I don't think we can ever swing back to the 'good old days,' when parents ruled and children kept their mouths shut.  We're swinging toward a balance, where parents once again are viewed as parents, and not as peers to their children. Children are being viewed as very loved and valued family members, but without the power or authority of the parents.

If we can get this balance, where parents are not afraid to be parents and the children put the parents and family as their priority, we'll be in great shape.

As a final note, here is an interesting story, passed on to me to share.  There's a lesson here.

A very self-important young man recently took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.

"You grew up in a different world, in many ways a primitive one," he said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear. "We young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, and man walking on the moon. We have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, computers with light-speed processing ....and," he paused momentarily....

The old man took advantage of the break in the youngster's litany and said, "You're so right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young...... so we invented them.  Now, what are you doing for the next generation?"

A story that makes you think hmmmm…


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