Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Language And Other Gaps

An online ad for HSBC bank, I saw on MSN recently shows a young woman traipsing into her room with a pair of distressed jeans she has just bought. While she is out, Mom comes in and shakes her head sadly at the state of the jeans. The next scene has her working on the sewing machine repairing them. It does not take much imagination to figure what happens next.

There comes a time when children no longer speak the same language as their parents – a pair of distressed jeans can be high fashion or clothing in state of serious disrepair based on point of view. There is no happy medium where these divergent interpretations could meet. In a similar vein, Sarah Hepola writes about her father who speaks a tongue only her mother can understand.

Generation gap has always existed except with accelerating pace of change in a connected world we risk falling out of step with our children much faster and much further apart. Any time I feel challenged by J, I try to go back in time to when I was her age to see if perspective will afford clarity. It rarely does because I have now receded even further from her zeitgeist. What I gain in perspective, I lose many times over in time and distance. I wonder if teachers are closest to feeling the pulse of our children’s generation – they have opportunity to see them as individuals and in social situations with their peers.

A diligent parent does get to know the person their child is growing up to be but there is lot more to a young person besides their individual identity. As we come of age, the part of us that interfaces with the world outside often holds surprises for our parents. And that is not a bad thing unless the surprise is of the unpleasant kind.

It seems that the ideal way to “know” children specially in their social context, would be to become one of them – like that new kid on the block who is hazed at first and then becomes part of the gang. But it is not a not a choice for a parent because they would lose their hard earned and constantly challenged credibility as an authority figure.

2 comments:

Ardra said...

I keep wondering abt this gap when I talk to my elder son- and then find us mouthing uncannily similar kinds of dialogues that my mother and I used to exchange... and I realise his degree of conviction in his POV, and I also realise my mother's stance years ago...
Its a cycle...

Heartcrossings said...

Ardra - I see myself talk like my mother all the time but J reacts a lot different than I did. I guess she and I have a multiple generation gap :)