The term child is used loosely to describe your offspring from the age of ten to nineteen. You will have to take a different approach if you are dealing with younger children or older children. Bridging the gap between your child and yourself is not about becoming your child’s best friend. It is about creating an atmosphere where social understanding and opposed culture do not hinder you and your child’s communication. Here are a few ways to bridge the generation gap between you and your child.
1. Try to Understand but do Not Try to Relate
Some of your child’s experiences may seem reminiscent of your own, and sometimes a parent will try to bridge the generation gap by trying to relate to the experiences of their children. This is a mistake and often leads to the parent giving the wrong advice, and the child lashing out because they feel you are not listening. Times and attitudes do change, and even a space of ten years can create a world of difference within your community, schools, family life, and friendship circle. Your memories are tinged with rose tinted glasses, and the people you were around were invariably different to the people your son or daughter are around.
Do not try to relate, but do try to understand. Try to put yourself now in their shoes, and listen to what they tell you. Probe them with open questions and allow them to get things off of their chest. For example, your child was called an anorexic by her school friends. You may have been wild and resistant to insults as a child, but if someone you cared for called you that name right now then how would you feel?
2. Do Not Interrupt Your Child
Sometimes it is a case of allowing your child to run out of steam. The more you interrupt the child then the more incentive they have to carry on acting out and being irrational. If your child causes lots of fuss and has tantrums, then wait for them to go quiet before giving your response.
3. Learn when to Fight and when to Let Go
There are times when your child is going to do something or act a certain way, and it is going to worry you or upset you. You have two choices, you can fight to change your child, change his/her actions or change the situation. Or you can let the situation play itself out and hope that your child will learn a few valuable lessons. You must learn when to fight and when to let go, because if you do too much of either it will lead to disaster. If you fight to change your child or their situation too often then you are going to buy a massive amount of resistance from your child, partner, family, friends, school, and even society. Plus your child is going to start believing that your actions do not have his/her best interests at heart. On the other hand, if you let go too often then your child will not have any boundaries and go off the rails.
4. Pick up on the Subtle Hints That a Child Leaves for You
They do it all the time and you need to be perceptive enough to pick up on them. They are going to give you hints as to the adults and children that they do not like. Your mission is to find out why they do not like them. You are going to notice things in their room or on their person which may be upsetting, worrying, or funny. The child may have left those things in obvious places for you to find, you need to find out why they did it. This is not about being parent of the year; it is about not letting your child keep secrets that could lead onto damaging them both mentally, physically or emotionally.
5. Do Not Give in to a Child Because You Want to Be a “cool” Parent
Bridging a generation gap is not about forming a friendship with your children, or being the type of parent that you wish you had. It is about opening yourself and your child up so that you can have an honest and open relationship where you guide them (instead of forcing them). It is about open communication that is unhindered by social misunderstandings or cultures in opposition to your own. Do not give in to your child because it will make you more popular. Your child has been groomed to be moody, sad, upset, and hate you if they do not get what they want. They are also groomed (by mass media, friends, and family members) to act ecstatically happy and “Love you forever” if they get what they want. You must not play into their hands.