Millennials are the generation of youth today who are discovering the challenges of adulthood and are caught in the constant struggle to strike a balance between the ideologies of the past and the technologies of the future. Researcher Levenson observed how millennials are different from their predecessors in not only their stages of development and types of relationships but also there is a large difference in economic opportunities, global competition and education. Thus, the reality is strikingly different from the rose-tinted image that the predecessors have for this generation. As they explore the future they strive to cope with this generation gap.
Generation Gap is the difference in social, emotional and cultural beliefs and practices that naturally occurs between two or more subsequent generations. This gap often tends to further create drifts between older parents and their teenage children.
Parent-Child Conflict due to Generation Gap
Erik Erikson talked about different stages of development. Sociologists Vern Bengtson and J.A. Kuypers refer to these stages to explain generation gap and state that young adults experience a stage where they strive to achieve an autonomy from their parents and invest into relationships with their friends, peers and partners, as they believe they share more in common with them as compared to their parents. Conversely, the generation of their parents experience a stage of generativity where they strive to pass on their values and knowledge to their children. They feel obliged to serve the society they live in and hence attempt to do so by rearing their children in accordance to what they have learnt and experienced in the society.
Researcher Birditt in 2009 observed how the gap affected the millennials and their parents.
Children were found to have more complaints regarding their parents desiring for more contact than it seemed possible while managing their hectic life schedule.
They also often felt burdened when their parents offered unsolicited advice and expected them to comply to it.
Children also often find their parents intruding their lives and not being able to let them grow independently.
Parents complained that the children could not manage their education and career and tend to take greater risks by opting for unconventional careers
The millennials experienced a gap in perception regarding social media, wherein their parents found it difficult to connect through it
Parents were found to be very apprehensive and critical about the ways children handled their finances, investing more as compared to saving.
Health or lifestyle has also been an area of disagreement between the two generations wherein the parents are often critical of the lifestyle adopted by the new generation.
Bridging The Gap
Accept the Difference
The two generations have their own unique experiences and perspectives, they are bound to differ in opinions and point of views regarding various aspects of life such as lifestyle, career choices and much more. So, to accept that the differences are natural and that each has a right to their own belief can help in bridging the gap.
Seek to Understand
Often when faced with the new conflicting ideas of the millennials, the parents instantly get offended and strike back to defend their own ideologies. Hence, the generational difference becomes a barrier in a relationship. Though this barrier may be converted to a bridge to knowledge if only the parents seek to understand the frame of reference of this difference, treat it with respect and consider it worthy of discussion. An attempt to such understanding is not to ensure an agreement of both generations rather an acknowledgement and understanding of perspectives.
Social media or online transactions among many more new age trends may be perceived apprehensively by the parents due to lack of exposure and understanding and may become a cause of conflicts between the two generations. Yet if both generations keep patience and approach the conflict with an attempt to understand before contradicting, both may benefit gaining a new insight into each other’s perspective.
Attempt to Accommodate rather than Change
As the two generations are bound to differ, this does not necessarily mean that one has to change completely to maintain harmony. They must strive to adapt themselves in a way so they can accommodate the change and co-exist at the same time. Often in the moment of conflict, we tend to start expecting others to accept and comply with our point of view ignoring the fact that two different perspectives can exist simultaneously.
Just as we make space for our new belongings in our cupboard, similarly as new trends and ideas come into picture, we can choose to accommodate them along with the traditional point of views instead of being non-receptive to them.
Prioritise the Relationship Above the Differences
When faced with conflicts, both generations must remember that the relationship they share with each other is more valuable than the differences. And even as their own experiences and beliefs tend to differ and drive them apart, their commitment to stay connected must supersede above all.
The gap between generations that we experience, if acknowledged, in a respectful manner can become a bridge and lead to a give and take of knowledge and experience.