Generation Gap– How Should We Overcome this Glaring Chasm?

‘Generation gap’ is a term that refers to the difference in the mindsets of younger generations and their elders. It specifically denotes the disparity between the opinions of parents and children regarding certain topics, such as culture, fashion and dressing etc. It is a natural phenomenon and studies conducted in this direction state how one generation is bound to be different from the other. The theory of generation gap was formulated in the 1960’s, and states that younger generations are always seen questioning and challenging the ideas, viewpoints and beliefs of the older generations. A generation gap can be discerned among the population of every time period since the beginning of the human race, as every generation is usually more capable and modernized than the previous one. Earlier, generation gap was a natural phenomenon and it was seemingly not harmful for the human race. But now, this chasm between two successive generations, for the past few centuries, has increased to such a level that it is no more natural and has become a major problem in today’s world.

The main reasons for this problem can be cited as, lack of communication and understanding, a fast-growing culture, a gradual disappearance of the joint family system, the practice of getting addicted to a particular lifestyle and finding it extremely difficult to try a new lifestyle etc. This has led to many misunderstandings, heated arguments and rash decisions such as teenagers leaving home, breaking relationships etc.

It has been observed that people from different generations react or behave differently in any given situation. Based on their points of view, beliefs, ideas, and over all behavior, generations have been classified into different categories:

The Traditionalists are the people who were born before 1946 and are now over seventy years of age. They are the ones who get a sense of satisfaction when a job is accomplished efficiently and they love sharing their experiences and knowledge with the younger generation. Most of them have spent their entire life working for the same organization and are extremely loyal. Next come the Baby Boomers, the people born between 1946 and 1965. They are the kind of people who are hardworking but are not open to feedback. Since they did not grow up under luxurious conditions, they make sure their children get anything they want.

Generation X consists of the people who were born between 1965 and 1980. They want their own space, wanting to do things on their own without the pressure of following rules. In contrast, Generation Y comprises the generation of people who were born between 1981 and 1999. This group is seemingly very interested in indulging themselves in meaningful work and also looks forward to quick feedback. They yearn to explore and be creative. This generation also gets bored quickly and unlike the traditionalists, people of this generation change their jobs quite frequently.

Fresh ideas and viewpoints are always valuable, and this is how the world evolves at all levels. However, the difference in opinions and ideas between different generations has often become a point of clash, and this clash has resulted in strained relationships. Parents have huge expectations from their children. They already have a set image in their minds regarding how their child should behave based on their traditions and values as well as on the basis of how the other kids in their extended family act. They think that they know best about how and what their kids should do in life. The problem arises when the kid has a different perspective or mindset. This is where the conflict starts. However, this is not to say that the parents are wrong each time. They are elders and certainly provide the children with a great sense of guidance, and at times do take the right decisions for their kids. But the younger generation seldom seems to understand this, which has led to numerous estranged relationships between parents and their children.

The only way to bridge this gap is by infusing a sense of understanding. The people from the older generation must understand that their children have been born in a different age and hence their mindset is different from them. Parents and grandparents need to pay more attention to why their children are behaving the way they are and why they have different opinions, rather than blindly imposing their rules and ideas on them. Parents must become friends with their children to understand them and on the other hand children must respect their parents. Parents must not judge their children and allow them the space to do things on their own, providing for all sorts of issues to be discussed and deliberated upon, where both parties understand each other rather than bickering over it.

Communicating and being friendly with each other is the only solution to this problem. A generation cap occurs because the world is constantly changing. It should be understood that people born in different ages are bound to be different from one another and see the world differently. Therefore, people must respect each other for their individuality rather than imposing their opinions and beliefs on each other.

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