Can You Close the Generation Gap?
PARENTS around the world are disturbed by a trend they see in their children. As they grow up they often grow away from the parents. A generation gap forms that is hard—and in some cases impossible—to bridge. Perhaps you have seen this problem and have become concerned about it.
Why the Gap?
No doubt you will agree that parents and children just do not talk to one another as much as they could. Why? One observation made by the Japanese government is that while children spend two hours watching television each day, they spend only 25 minutes talking with their fathers and 40 minutes with their mothers.
Another reason is that in many families, because of economic pressures, both parents have to work at a secular job to make ends meet. This means less time to spend with their children. As a result, parents and children can become strangers even though living in the same house. Sometimes, even when an effort to communicate is made, it seems to take the wrong direction because of a lack of understanding. As one newspaper editorial pointed out, parents frequently just bark orders, such as, “Study hard” or, “Keep your desk-top in order.” But, in itself, this neither builds up a person nor bridges the generation gap.
How to Close the Gap
In Canada a man who has counseled many troubled teenagers advised: “The best treatment for [shy teenagers] is a parent who is available to listen, listen, listen.” Even the Bible counsels to be “swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” (James 1:19) Often a parent makes the mistake of cutting his child off with an irritated, “Quiet down!” or, “You’re bothering me!” If a child feels he is going to be put down every time he tries to speak, he will gradually stop coming to his parents. A communication gap is bound to develop.
On the other hand, perhaps some project could be planned and done together as a family, such as taking care of home repairs, redecorating a room, painting a neglected area, or cultivating plants in the yard. There is no need to wait till there is a huge project to tackle. Often it could be something as simple as cooking with mother or repairing a broken appliance with father. What is important is that what is done gets parents and children involved together. This, in turn, creates an atmosphere for conversation. But be careful not to be overly critical of your children’s work or expect too much of them.
Of course, a child may prefer to play with his friends who are his own age, but here is where the child must sacrifice for the sake of closing or preventing a generation gap. Parents also will have to give up some of their time. This may mean a sacrifice, yet such is far more important than any material thing a parent could give his or her child.
Where Can Help Come From?
Since the early part of a child’s life is spent almost exclusively with his parents, you certainly do not want to waste these precious formative years.
However, you may feel somewhat at a loss as to how and what to teach your children. Many parents have found that the Bible is the source of the finest instruction known to man. Using the Bible, you can help your child to develop high moral principles, industriousness, self-control, respect for authority, and many other fine qualities. Today, millions of parents earth wide who follow the Bible in training their children have realized the truth of Proverbs 22:6, which says: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”
But how can parents acquaint their youngsters with the Bible? While children are young, it is quite easy to read things together, such as the Bible. Time spent this way will be most rewarding, as children often begin to talk freely, thereby building mutual trust and confidence.
Children enjoy stories. The Bible is full of these. An excellent publication that can help parents and children to become acquainted with the Bible is My Book of Bible Stories, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. With many large, colorful illustrations, this book covers in chronological order the main events recorded in the Bible.
Another fine educational aid distributed by Jehovah’s Witnesses is the book entitled Listening to the Great Teacher. It has 46 short chapters designed to be read with young children, teaching youngsters vital principles to assist them in life. Here are just a few of the chapters: “Obedience Protects You,” “Two Persons Who Did Not Tell the Truth,” and “More Happiness in Giving.” Discussing this material with your children will help you, as well as your children, to understand the teachings of the Bible better.
Perhaps your children are in their teens. If so, the book Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It can be a wonderful aid to you as a parent to have something to talk about with your teenagers. This book deals realistically with adolescent problems. Consider these chapters: “Growing Into Manhood,” “Moving Into Womanhood,” “What Kind of Friends Do You Want?” and “What Do You Want out of Life?”
We are not trying to say that merely reading such books is the total answer. But it is a start in the right direction. Parents can be assured that they are making a good effort. (Ephesians 6:4) The end result will be a more united family with a bright future prospect for both parents and children. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be glad to assist you in starting such a program in your home.—John 17:3.