Generational Conflicts

“In my day we used to do things differently”. That’s what sometimes older people say to younger people, usually implying that their ways were better. However, there have always been generational differences, whether one looks at people’s traditions, beliefs, or use of language.

Generally, younger people look at traditions less strictly than older people. That could happen in the case of immigrants, where the children grow up in the new country and adopt its new customs, while their parents still try to follow the traditions of their old land, in which they were raised. The parents cling on to their traditions because they feel the need to keep something of their old home, their old life, of their youth in the new world in which they arrived. The traditions, in this case, are an attempt to maintain something familiar in an unfamiliar environment. The children, on the other hand, feel quite at home in this new world, which is the only one they know, or the only one they really remember. Thus, they don’t feel the need to follow the same traditions as their parents.

Similarly, in regards to their beliefs, many young people are less religious than their elders. This could have the same reasons as in the case of traditions, or it could be a form of adolescent rebellion against authority. At a certain age, teenagers begin to feel oppressed by all the rules that their parents make them follow, this leading to a sort of “revolution” in their behavior. They start rejecting everything that they parents tell them, including going to church, believing in a god, just to show how different they are from their parents.

A third point of conflict between generations seems to be the use of language. More specific, the elderly generally think that the youths use a much fouler language than they did when they were young. This, of course, depends on each family’s definition of “foul language”. Some families allow their children to say words that other families may consider offensive. Nevertheless, generally speaking, it has been observed that nowadays some words that older generations thought to be taboo or unspeakable (such as the f-word) have become much more used, even in mainstream entertainment.

All of these can seem problematic, when experienced first-hand. And yet, if one tries to put things into perspective, one can see that generational conflicts are normal. Everyone has a point in their lives when they feel out of touch with the younger generations. And everyone felt, when they were young, that their parents don’t really “get” them. If more people would try to remember that, maybe these clashes between people of different ages would be a lot less dramatic.

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