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Bridging the Generation Gap

Bridging the Generation Gap

The very definition of family has changed so much within the last one generation. Joint families became extended, and now nuclear, families. The number of children a couple produces has come down to two and one. There are many single-parent families too, either by circumstance or by choice. The result is that there are going to be fewer and fewer people to interact with within a family, in the years to come. Also, with increased mobility and the world becoming a Global Village, parents and children will find it more and more difficult to live under the same roof.

We need to build 1:1 relationship and communication with elders, particularly with those whose age is significantly different from ours. This can be done much more effectively if we understand and appreciate that persons of a different generation can complement our abilities and interests, they can fill in our gaps, and they can be very fascinating in teaching us things that we do not know.

One good way to build this communication is to do an exercise which can be something like this: Take each aspect of life, interests, attitude, and compare who likes what, and explain to the other person ‘Why’. This can be done between child and parent, or child and grandparent, or parent and grandparent or for that matter any elderly person. Here are a few examples:

When you come to know what the other person feels and why, it helps you build a better understanding and a better relationship. This is only a short beginning. You have to continue doing such exercises, formally or informally, from time to time.

As long as the younger generation understands that the elders have been their support system during their growing years and can lend a listening ear to those who are now old, we would all be able to improve the quality of our life. What they need most is a gentle hug, patience with their failing abilities to do small tasks, a listening ear for the stories of their times. This would bring down the feeling of loneliness that troubles them and make them feel good.

Dr. Ali Khwaja

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