If a parent does not realize what is important to a child, it can be hard for that child to feel accepted or loved. Older parents can have a harder time remembering how they were treated as children and what kinds of hardships they saw as being serious and important, but that does not mean that they should not try to be supportive of the concerns that a child is facing (Casterline, 2009). Things will be very different in that child's world than they were in the parents' world years ago, but the basic problems of human beings and their ability (or lack of ability) to socialize and treat each other well remain the same (Casterline, 2009).
Very often, parents talk down to their children without meaning to. They think that the child cannot understand adult concepts and so they must present them in a way that they make more sense to children. That is true to a point, but children are very perceptive and often smarter and more understanding than people give them credit for (Casterline, 2009). When things are not explained to them they feel as though they have been left out and they think that they do not matter or that their parents cannot trust them with any information. In trying to help a child and 'be nice,' a parent can actually patronize that child and make him or her feel stupid and uncomfortable. Children should be talked to in the most adult way that they can understand when information has to be given to them, especially about a very serious or grave situation (Casterline, 2009).
Third, communication between parents and children is difficult, but it must not be avoided (Casterline, 2009). A lot of parents simply do not talk to their children because they are not sure what to say. Those same children do not talk to their parents because they do not feel as though their parents would understand. They want to talk to their friends, but they are not interested in talking to anyone older. They assume (wrongly) that their parents never had to deal with these kinds of things, or that it was so long ago that their parents would not know how to help them. They also assume that they are the only people in the world who are going through, have gone through, or will go through whatever it is that they are currently going through (Casterline, 2009). With that in mind it can be very hard to get them to open up to a parent, but parents must continue to try.
When the lines of communication are opened up at an early age and they stay open, there is a better chance they will be used for the transfer of information well into the teenage years and beyond (Casterline, 2009). Some families stay very close this way, and they talk to one another about anything, no matter how old they get. Other families just drift apart and do not really communicate at all because they are not sure what they should be saying to one another. They give up when their children are young and so they do not have any kind of relationship and communication when their children are older, either. It is much more difficult to get that communication back once it has left, but it is not impossible to bridge the generation gap between parents and children at any age. There is always room to work on the generation gap and on solutions for it that work well for a particular parent-child relationship, whether the child is very young or all grown up.
That is also true with grandchildren, who may feel as though they have nothing at all in common with their elderly grandparents (Bridging, 2009). When they really talk, they will often find that they have a great deal in common and that they are missing out by not communicating with the older people in their lives (Bridging, 2009). As both parents and children become more willing to talk to one another the generation gap slowly recedes and the friendship and shared experiences that were underneath the anxiety and misunderstandings are better able to emerge.
Bridging the generation gap (2009). Parentgiving. http://www.parentgiving.com/elder-care/bridging-the-generation-gap-encouraging-children-to-connect-with-elders/
Casterline, Roger. (2009). Bridging the generation gap and establishing a healthy relationship…