IntroductionOne of the most important points that immediately comes up for discussion in any informal conversation with 65+ Senior citizens is their perception about what they famously call as "Generation Gap". It is not that their perceptions are all wrong. They are quite right in having their own views and their perceptions, that, more often than not, are the same as reality itself. More so, as these realities are based on observable facts. And in real life, facts are facts.
However, when we hear the other side, the youngsters do not dispute that their ways of thinking, acting and interpreting facts are totally different from that of their parents. The scope for the difference of opinion is quite high and when there is not much of an understanding on the bigger issues involved with the facts and the realities, the meeting points seem to be non-existent; if they do exist, the meeting points are mostly based on some sort of unwilling compromise on either side.
Be that as it may, the art of effortlessly and effectively addressing the Generation Gap issues involves the following steps. They are a) Recognizing that times have changed and accepting new realities b) Tacit agreement on preserving some desirable aspects of the old c) Welcoming the new with openness and trust d) Finding out mechanisms for increased harmony e) Making inroads into new vistas of understanding concerns on either side and f) Allowing scope for dissent and making efforts to address that head-on.
A number of true-life instances through learning in one way or the other. Based on his own experience and experience of others, certain lessons are distilled for wider understanding. As one goes along, such lessons will be somewhat useful, for sure.
Recognizing that times have changed and accepting new realitiesThis is an important step. The times have changed. The new methods of managing everything is now being driven by information technology. For example, precious time and money and paper are saved, when we book rail tickets online. We just need to show the SMS and the work is done. If the elders are educated, there is no problem. If they are uneducated, the need to constantly communicate and make people understand is very imperative. It is wise to get the buy-in, after giving them sufficient exposure. For example, it is fine if the old people are taken to a shopping mall. When they see a new experience and also understand the ways of the younger generation, they are more likely to understand the new realities. The "after-all-my-son-is part-of the-game" attitude is likely to set in early.
In matters of dressing, similar exposure to current fashions is quite in order. For example, there are places like the cinema theaters where old people get to see all the new fashions. This will help them to understand the new realities. In an article, this author had mentioned how a woman, who accepted her daughter-in-law wearing sleeveless blouses in New Delhi, years ago, was the start of a good relationship. how-to-treat-your-daughter-in-law-as-your-daughter
Tacit agreement on preserving some desirable aspects of the oldIn a particular family, the parents shifted to Mumbai, and their plan was to spend four years in it. They were of great support to the family, since the daughter-in-law as so busy with her work. When the child was born, the attention given was much appreciated. However, both the grand-parents had a good circle of friends in the Matunga area and would insist on attending the pooja in the local temple every Saturday. The understanding boss at the girl's office would give her the work from home facility. The child was also well taken care of. None of the family members ever interfered in the work or interests of the other members. This became clear to all other relatives too. The grandparents should be given total freedom "to be", particularly on religious matters. If this is done, most of the other problems can be solved too. Such understanding and affection can make a big difference to happiness.
Welcoming the new with openness and trustThis is another area. In a particular case, where the man was related to his author, it was great to see the then just retired father do all the banking work for his son. The son would give him all the net banking passwords. The father would maintain all accounts and would chip in with his own money too. The 80-C section investments,pertaining to the Income tax of the son,were also managed by the father. This high level of trust can effectively minimize the time taken by the man and effectively help him concentrate on his job. His job in a senior position with DCW Limited meant that the man would arrive very late almost every day. The journey from the heart of the city to Mulund would also take quite a while. Yet, the family was happy at all times. This happened only due to the fact that openness and trust was present in the family. Similarly, the grandchildren also loved the company of their grandparents, as they were constantly helped in their homework.
Finding out mechanisms for increased harmony Even today, in the Pollachi region )( near Coimbatore city) it is common to find entire families coming together for the yearly temple festival, normally conducted in the temples in the villages around April or May. This author had been invited to a couple of such festivals and it is so common to find people of all communities sitting and chatting. Only vegetarian food is served. Many of the family members get to interact with other family members, who come calling, from as far as the UK or USA. The ten days are spent in total relaxation. The guys take their cars and drive down to Coimbatore city to do their shopping. The senior citizens join them too. Life is harmonious when such yearly meetings are arranged. This could be tried out by everyone. Just ten days in the native villages, that are far away from the dust and din of the city, will enable the emotional bonding in a far better way.
Making inroads into new vistas of understanding concerns on either side Values make a difference. On a cool Sunday morning, after the rains in the previous night, at Madurai, a young boy was seen teaching his grandma how to operate her husband's net banking account. The "old SSLC" lady, as she used to call herself, was aghast in the beginning. However, when she learned the technique, she enjoyed it., The boy's mother had encouraged the so to teach the grandma. Such small things make a big difference. In another case, this author recently saw something nice in Coimbatore. Asked to pay respects to a senior man (now 90 years in age, the boy, just seven, not only fell right on the old man's legs but also sought his blessings. Not only this. The child was so keen on engaging the old man in conversation, asking him about his life in the BHEL township at Tiruchirapalli. The old man was seen patiently explaining everything through some photographs that he had with him.
It is always up to this present generation to develop this eco-system. If the children are taught to respect the old right from a very young age, they will do so. The old people just want someone to chat with them. This will please them no end. Such small parcels of happiness would go a long way in a lot of mutual understanding on either side.
Allowing scope for dissent and making efforts to address that head-on This is another aspect of modern life. We are often faced with situations where dissent is there for the asking. This is actually good. This normally happens in the case of investment decisions. The dissent would happen when the son would like to spend a huge amount on purchasing a flat in the heart of the city; the father would prefer an independent house in the suburbs, reasoning out that the latter would develop fast too.
The simplest solution is to write down the pros and cons of both alternatives. The decision would become clear when the best possible alternative is chosen. Dissent can also happen in terms of the upbringing of children. To just make the children keep quiet, the parents get them more than they ask for; this is naturally resented by the old people. Once again, a better level of communication between the family members will help in minimizing the dissent or even making it a non-issue.
Communication is always the key. Bottled up emotions and feelings do not help at all.
Conclusion The Generation Gap issues can be easily handled. It is always a matter of a lot of common sense, combined with the ability to understand all dimensions of the issues and then address them directly and firmly. A good deal of communication, particularly on the weekends, can help too. Mutual understanding and a give and take policy can easily happen if the basic steps are followed.
A very well written article on the generation gap and I appreciate the author for his approach on the subject. Two parties are involved in the whole affair. If both them give importance to each other then the relationship will be good. The thinking process will definitely change as there is a change in age. No one should think that the other person also should think in the same line.
These days the society has completely changed due to the exposure they get through social media and other communication ways. So the young people today are having more awareness about the various happenings around us and they will also get influenced by that. The elderly people should not worry about that. The seniors should not insist that young people should follow them or hear them always in all points.
Similarly, the young generation should also give some weight to the words of the elder people. Whether you follow or do not follow, hearing them and understanding their views will give them some satisfaction. In this may if both understand each other and move on there will not be major problems in their going together.
This article has given an insight into how two generations, the young and old, can fit into one umbrella in terms of friendly dialogues. Both the generations have their own way of accomplishing their tasks and their interactions on certain issues would make it clear how they are different in resolving the same issue.
However, it would be essential to have a frank dialogue to understand the approaches of each party in a cordial atmosphere so that both can appreciate the merits of the ways chosen by them. Such a friendly atmosphere can be created with the right upbringing of the child so that he would pay enough regard while behaving with the seniors. A right platform to a child can bring closeness with a senior and both the parties can maintain patience while dwelling their points.
When we talk about the generation gap, we talk about loneliness. We have this misconception that it is only older generations who get isolated. Younger generations do not have time for their family members and thus old people are pushed away to live a secluded life. Yes, it is true. But what is also true is that the generation gap also makes the younger generation to face the same problem. Loneliness strikes both of them.
Do not go on lifestyle. Just because they are young and busy in their professional lives does not mean they are not lonely. Surveys conducted every year prove that the percentage of loneliness is increasing even in people who are belonging to the age group of 20-30. They are not able to communicate and convey their feelings to their parents or elders. Soon they suffer from anxiety and depression follows. They may be doing well in professional life but when it comes to personal life, they too are feeling secluded and lonely.
The author in this article has explained steps that can help to fill the generation gap by bringing them together. Communication is the key. Fear of having meaningful conversations and keeping everything in the heart is wrong. Whenever there is an issue, it is important to discuss and sort it out so that it does not build up. Usually, people do not convey their feelings. The reason is that one generation might not understand the other. When the two generations try to understand each other by stepping out of their comfort zones and by looking at each other's perspective, none of them will have to go through the phase of loneliness.