Generation gap: Years together or years apart

Age differences bind, not separate families in which parents become friends and children respect elders

father and son playing at the lakeThe difficulty with the young—and I regard myself as one of them too—is that we think we have mastered the knowledge and wisdom of the whole world; we carry it on the palm of our hands. If only we realise that our parents have passed through many experiences to gather wisdom from which we can learn, generation gap will cease to be a problem. Children feel that their parents don’t understand them and do not know anything and that is why the generation gap forms.

When in their teens, young boys and girls need friends more than they need parents. And it is the parents’ duty to become friends with their teenage children. The parent must become a friend so that the teenager comes and confides everything in him/her.

Self-discipline is learned

In our days, there was no generation gap at all. We never even heard the word, generation gap. We hear of it now. Why? Because in our days, a mother devoted all her time, her energy to bring up her children. Today, so many mothers have to go and earn. They are absent from the house for many hours at a stretch. Those who do not have the necessity to earn, go to clubs. They neglect their children, which creates this generation gap.

In our days, generation gap did not exist. No one taught us not to smoke, eat meat, or drink wine! We were brought up in that kind of an atmosphere, therefore, it became natural for us. I have not smoked till today! And it is not because I was told not to smoke, but because we were in that atmosphere.

The best discipline is self-discipline. Unless you have self-discipline, unless you have self-control, you cannot lead a disciplined life.

Actions speak louder

The father says to the boy, “You must not smoke,” but he himself turns around and smokes. The boy sees the father smoking and says, “He tells me not to smoke and he is enjoying himself. I will also enjoy myself.” The boy also turns around and starts smoking. Examples speak louder than words.Reverence is important

The difference between today’s generation and yesterday’s generation is just the difference between today and yesterday. If you ask me, what is it that today’s generation needs? I will answer in single word—reverence. Reverence is the root of knowledge. Without reverence, there can be no true education, there can be no true knowledge.

That is why the great English poet [Alfred Lord Tennyson] said, “Let knowledge grow from more to more, but more of reverence in us dwell.” We are becoming more and more irreverent today. Yesterday’s generation had greater reverence for parents, elders, teachers and for the one indefinable mystery, which, for want of a better word, we call, God.

There is a great man who has said, “When I was 20, I felt that my parents were foolish. I knew everything. They knew nothing. At the age of 30, I began to see that there was some little wisdom in what my parents said. At the age of 40, I found that there was not little, but quite a lot of wisdom in what they said. At the age of 50, I have realised that I was a fool to have disregarded what my parents told me.”

It is true that there are many points on which youths disagree with adults, especially in this period, which is a transitional period. Values are changing. The values of those advanced in age, are different from the values of those who are just beginning these experiences of life.

Walking in other person’s shoes

One thing that can help bridge the gap is to put yourself in the place of your parents. I do not ask you to accept everything that your parents tell you because, maybe, from your point of view, parents do not understand the problems you face. But put yourself in their place and consider: what would your condition be if your children behaved towards you, as you behave towards your parents?

Second, the parents should grow in patience. I tell parents again, and again, that you should be a friend to your children. You must be so easily accessible to them and so understanding about their problems that they do not hesitate in telling you everything. What happens now, is that children try to hide things from their parents, which is wrong. It is going to cut at the very roots of family life!When children grow to be teenagers, parents have to become their friends. The attitude alike of parents and children needs to change. Children should be more respectful to their parents and parents should be more understanding about the problems their children face. It is only then, that we will be able to build family life once again.

J P Vaswani
J P Vaswani (2 August 1918 – 12 July 2018) ), affectionately called "Dada", was a spiritual leader with a difference. His message of love and forgiveness resonated deeply with millions of people around the world. He spearheaded Sadhu Vaswani Mission, which he took over after the passing away of his master T L Vaswani. The mission has centres around the world and continues to do humanitarian work. Dada has received the prestigious U-Thant Peace Award for his dedicated service to the world peace.


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