What is the generation gap?  The generation gap is simply defined as a difference in values and attitudes between one generation and another. The generation gap helps explain why older and younger people or individuals from different generations have a hard time understanding each other. Individuals have many differences in experiences, opinions, habits, and behaviors from different generations that tend to stick with them long-term. 

Family Generational Gaps and Fear

Generational gaps between family members can bring up conflicts that can sometimes be hard to navigate or just feel frustrating due to not understanding the other persons point of view. This could look like dealing with family members who are “stuck in their ways”, navigating the technology gap, family members being open to trying new things and others are not, lack of common interests, or overall just struggling understanding one another and why one person may behave the way that they do. We are also now living in an era of change which has produced a lot of fear among all generations.

In a post-pandemic, technology evolving, and consistently changing society, it is common for there to be underlying fears intertwining with the generational gap that impact interactions with family members, communication, and cause conflict between family members. Some of the fears can be surrounding, traveling, vaccines, technology advances, and more. All of these in which can impact family harmony if there is a disagreement, difference of opinion, or one family member is more fearful about something than the other family member. A recent study done at The Pew Research Center found that 79% of Americans see major differences between younger and older adults in the way they look at the world. It is no surprise that the gap brings a different world view between generations. So how do we navigate this?

Bridging the Gap

As there are many factors that play into the drivers of fear and the generational gap, listening to each family member and their own perspective on things (without judgement) can be helpful. It can be easy to judge other family members for doing things a specific way not normal to you or because of fear but listening without judgment provides space for compassion and can help you have a better understanding of where your family member is coming from. It can also be helpful to explain your intentions when introducing something new or different to a family member that may seem a bit scary to them. Explaining your intentions can feel less intimidating and leave the conversation open for questions and non-violent communication. Bridging the gap, especially with the underlying fear is not always easy, but starting from a place with compassion, openness, and curiosity can help make the conversations much easier.

Final words from Marina Edelman, LMFT

Navigating difficult conversations and differences in opinions can be challenging. It can be helpful to seek out a therapist who can help you build on your communication skills and learn how to navigate family conflicts. My associates and I have worked with many families to help them work navigate difficult and unique challenges. We are currently accepting new clients.

Marina Edelman | 818.851.1293 | www.marinaedelman.com | Westlake Village, CA