Generation gap – is it a problem of the modern family? Why?/ Why not?

The term ‘generation gap’ may have been coined not long ago but the problem itself is as old as the hills. All sorts of conflicts and misunderstanding between younger and older generations occur in probably every family. Adults complain about arrogance and insensitivity of young people whereas the latter claim that their parents have no idea about what they are going through. There seems to be no perfect solution to this problem as the young and the old find it difficult, if not impossible, to communicate and accept opposite views. The fact that teenagers develop different values from those held by their parents leads to numerous conflicts.

There are many reasons why the problem of generation gap arises. First of all, the period of adolescence is difficult. Teenagers are not children any longer, but they are no adults yet. They search for a sense of identity and crave independence. On the other hand, they depend on their parents financially and still need their parents consent when they want to go out, go for holidays, buy something expensive, invite friends home, etc. Very often teenagers treat their parents like enemies especially when they are not permitted to do one thing or another.

Obviously, it is understandable when parents insist a teenager returns home before midnight. They have a wide knowledge of the world and all kinds of risks involved – reckless youngsters see no danger in walking alone in the middle of the night or getting a lift from a stranger who might be a serial killer. When children grow up and start their own families they are able to admit that their parents were usually right, although a bit overprotective at times.

However, we must remember that adolescence is the period of making important decisions. Sixteen or seventeen-year-olds want to choose their career path or at least develop their talents, which in turn will enable them to decide upon a job later on. Secondly, it is in their late teens when they form their lifelong friendships, go for their first dates, analyse what qualities they will look for in their future partners. Unfortunately, a lot of parents do not want to accept the fact that their child is growing up and has the sole right to choose who she or he wants to become in the future. Such mothers and fathers often have their own idea what their child’s life should be. To my mind, this kind of behaviour is really harmful and it can result in a very serious family conflict. Every now and then we meet forty-year-old people who accuse their parents of making them study the subject they hated or marrying the person they never loved. The generation gap problem, which usually disappears a few years later, in such families turns into an emotional wound which might never heal and the feeling of a wasted life on both parts.

To sum up, although conflicts between teenagers and their parents are unavoidable they definitely do not have to lead to an open war. My advice to parents is to try and treat teenagers as their equal partners and to accept their ideas. Teenagers should respect their mothers and fathers more, and be always ready to discuss serious problems with them. All in all, who else loves them more than their parents do?


Pytanie, które może zadać egzaminator

In your opinion, who can act as a mediator when parents and teenagers are not able to solve their mutual problems?

I think this is a difficult question because parents and children do not like it if someone else intervenes in their conflicts. Some people might say that they should seek professional help – a family counsellor, a teenager’s teacher or a priest. In my opinion though, it is best when we ask an elderly relative for help, usually a grandparent. Such person is close both to children and their parents, but at the same time is distanced enough not to take sides.

mutual – wzajemny (np. szacunek, sympatia)