How often do we use the generation gap as an excuse to write off our inability to communicate with teens? Does the generation gap really exist? Do we really make the effort we should to close that gap in order to meet the needs of our teens?
There truly is a difference from one generation to another when it comes to the culture of our society. However, there is no change from generation to generation when it comes to emotional needs of individuals. There is no doubt that the world of today’s teen seems foreign to those of us who grew up without cell phones, texting, PlayStations, Facebook, Twitter and the like; nevertheless, the emotional needs of people many generations ago were the same as the emotional needs of our teens today. Everyone wants to feel loved, no matter the generation. Everyone wants to feel self-worth. Everyone wants to feel acceptance. Everyone wants friends and family for support. I believe everyone has an inner desire to worship and serve something.
The wise grandparent, parent, teacher or any other person who works with a teen would do well to concentrate on the emotional needs of teens because it is there that we will always be able to identify. To concentrate on the differences instead of the likenesses is a waste of time that could be well spent in bonding with a young person. Who, of any age, does not appreciate an understanding person who can quickly recognize hurts and offer consolation? Who does not appreciate an encouraging word from another person whether old or young?
We don’t have to understand all of the technology being used by the younger generation. If we should decide to learn about some of the things so commonly used, we can ask a teen to teach us. By doing so, we have actually contributed to that teen’s self-worth. It feels good to be able to teach an older person something.
On a visit to California some time back, my granddaughter taught me to text while we were riding to her house from the airport. I even sent a text to her boyfriend and he sent one back. It was fun. She was definitely enjoying teaching Nana about her gadget. As we admit that we don’t know everything and submit to the younger generation to teach us, we are creating an environment where the younger people will listen to us more readily when we want to teach them something from our experience.
Each generation has its special set of “tools” with which to confront life. Upon close examination, we find that those tools are simply for the purpose of fulfilling the emotional needs that never change. Cultures and temptations may change, but the inner heartfelt needs of individuals do not. To recognize and accept this fact is a big step in the right direction to closing that generation gap.