During a routine "WhatApp" chat with my teenage daughter, I texted "Hey baby! Wassup!!
She seemed a little astonished by my words and replied, "Daaaaad!!!,...it feels strange to hear you use this kind of language" and added a surprised emoticon and a few smileys!!
The experience got me thinking.... about how I have been trying to keep abreast with the changes in the generations and about how I was always trying to keep the conection strong and healthy with the "Gen-next".
We often see that there is a big gap in the perception and understanidng between generations, which the youngsters call "Generation Gap". They think differently, behave differently and even write differently. their aspirations are different and sometimes quite diametrically opposite to the so called "accepted norms" as we think as elders.
These gaps if not addressed propertly can widen by the passing years and bring about a total disconnect between the current and future generations. This can even lead to an erosion of the bonds between parents and children. The effects can be cascading and can lead to disastrous consequences, if we do not address the issue urgently and the onus is on US - the elders.
We, as elders have to take the first step towards Bridging the Generation Gap.
As Stephen Covey said, "Let us first understand and then be Understood:. This in my opinion, is first step towards this effort.
We need to step down from the position of "Moral High Ground" that we often raise ourselves to and start to look at things in the youth's perspective without judging them from the pedestal of experience or authority as elders.
We need to frequently and continually interact with the "Gen-next", not just our children but as many younsters as possible. Such a colloborative effort will help us to understand the thoughts, fears, anxieties and the ambitions of the youth. We can then reflect these thoughs and evaluate the "righteousness or correctness" based on our worldly experience and acceptable norms of the society. If it is acceptable, let them be different. Let us accept and encourage different thinking. We also need to encourage them to break out of the cocoons of restrictive thinking to charter a course of their choice...it is after all their lives...
I am extremely fortunate to have had many opportunities to interact with the youth through the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Programs and other occassions to train youngsters. I have tried to use every such opportunity to understand them first and then try to proivde inputs to help each of them, within their sphere of interest, with the skill sets and abilities that they possess. I have realized that such interactions sometimes enables us to provde a new dimension to the thought process of the youth. This interaction and experience has on many occasions thrown up a completely different dimension to the thoughts of the youth. Many youngsters have even acknowledged that.
So, I see a huge oppotunity in this sphere for us as elders and leaders of the community, where we can strive to "bridge the generation gap".
Let us try to develop a wholesome, wider and more inclusive perspective. Let us understand the thoughts, fears, anxieties and aspirations of the "Gen-Next"
Let us be the change that we wish to see in our posterity!!