If you think your kids' clothes are too weird and their music is too loud, and, although they're speaking English, you can't understand a word -- you might be on the wrong side of a generation gap. Cross the distance by remembering how much you wanted to be understood by your parents when you were coming of age. You don't have to like -- or even understand -- your kids' tastes. What's important is that you make an honest effort.
Communicating regularly with your children can go a long way toward bridging the generation gap, since, according to the American Psychological Association, listening and talking are essential elements to a healthy parent-child relationship. Show your children that their interests are your interests, regardless of the number of years between you. As kids grow into teens and tweens, communication might become increasingly difficult. To keep the dialogue open, parents must pay close attention to their kids’ habits. If your teen tends to be quiet around the house during the week because of long days filled with school, homework and extracurricular activities, don’t push the issue. Note the times when she’s more open, like in the car, at the dinner table or on weekends. Make a point of letting your kids know that you’re always available to talk, and no subject is off limits. And when your kids do come to you, even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, try to listen more than you speak.
If you want to close the gap between you and your children, you’re going to have to speak their language. Stay current with the trends that define your kids’ generation, from slang, music, movies, and clothes to social networking and current events. It’s especially important that you become adept in today’s technology, so you can monitor your child’s online presence and help her make wise choices on the Internet and beyond.
Even though it might feel like your formative years weren’t that long ago, it’s important to accept that times have changed. Don’t ask your child to conform to old models of thinking and being. Refrain from saying things like “Back when I was your age,” “That’s not how we used to do it” or “I just don’t understand these kids today.” It’s not a contest. The past wasn’t better; it was just different. Accept that things are the way they are and try to understand the changes rather than comparing the current days to your glory years.
Parents interested in bridging the generation gap must be open to change. You must be flexible in your ideas and actions to keep up with your child’s swift moving current. If you decide “This is who I am, period,” then the gap between you and your child will only widen as she grows older. Keep in mind that parenting is not an exact science. What worked with one child might not work with another. You must be willing to adapt your parenting style to suit your children’s needs.
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