If you've ever heard yourself start a sentence with "When I was your age..." while talking to your child, there's a good chance that you're both victims of a generation gap. It's that disconnect due to age and culture that can make it hard for you to connect to your kid. While you probably don't understand everything your child deals with regularly, you can communicate and connect to help bridge the existing generation gap to better understand your child.
It might sound too simple to be true -- eating dinner with your child as a way to bridge the difference in age and culture between you both. But eating meals together is an excellent way to communicate and connect with your child, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. It gives you an opportunity to get rid of distractions, establish a sense of unity and come together at the end of each day to talk, laugh and get to know each other better. As you communicate with your child, you find out what's most important to him, helping to bridge the generation gap.
Technology, media and the Internet can drive a huge wedge between you and your child, particularly if you don't know or understand what your child does online. A 2008 study performed by Tel Aviv University found that the majority of parents don't know what their kids are doing online. For example, only 9 percent of parents knew that their child had met with a stranger they only knew online, while 36 percent of kids copped to the behavior. To help bridge the generation gap, get to know your child's favorite websites. Find out how he spends his time online and create your own profiles for social networking and gaming sites he frequents. That way, you can track his movements but also create dialogue about the things he encounters online.
Find Similar Interests
While your child might not enjoy golf the way you do, there's no reason you shouldn't have similar interests. Find things that you and your child have in common and that you can enjoy together to help you connect and bridge the gap between you. It can be anything from a favorite sports team to a shared hobby or even a favorite TV show or movie that you enjoy together. Shared interests help to solidify your parent-child bond.
There's bound to be conflict between you and your child. According to the book "The Youth Culture and the Generation Gap," each older generation believes it makes sacrifices for the next, causing conflict when that sacrifice seemingly goes unnoticed. But constantly holding your sacrifices over your child's head can drive a generational wedge between you both as you deem your child ungrateful and he sees you as overbearing and needy. When you do have conflict, stay in the moment and focus on the issue at hand rather than sweeping issues or past hurt. This allows you to resolve the conflict without driving even more space between you and your child.
- University of Minnesota Extension: The Importance of Family Mealtimes
- American Friends of Tel Aviv UniversityL Mind the (Online) Gap
- The Youth Culture and the Generation Gap; Gerhard Falk, Ursula A. Falk; p.54