Even though our local rural area is probably one of the best places in the world to raise a family, we still have some problems. One of the most frustrating for both sides seems to be the generation gap.
For example, a friend was telling how her 20-year-old grandson found a girlfriend in the Cleveland area, then an apartment not too far from her and lastly, found a job in the vicinity. Those of us listening all agreed that we never would have done it that way. First we would have had a job, found an apartment next, and then after the basics were in order, been ready to find a girlfriend.
The problem seems to be that those of us in the parent and grandparent category seem to be two to three generations behind our kids. We can’t seem to agree with them on anything, especially school, money management, relationships, or even goals in life.
We could blame this lack of communication on the break-up of the family unit even in our farming community, a decline in morals in society as a whole, extreme violence in movies, addiction to drugs and alcohol, or even excessive television—there are many factors. The fact is that if the older generation expects to have any confidence at all in the youth of today, who are the leaders of tomorrow, we had better get busy. The decisions our young people are going to make will have a profound impact on us as older adults and we can’t even begin to relate to them now.
The first thing all of us have to do is learn to talk to our kids and grandkids, no matter what age they are, and really talk about important things. The next thing is that no matter how busy we are, we have to take the time to listen to them. They don’t need a new phone or a new pair of jeans, they need us. We are feeling guilty and trying to buy their love. In the long run, nobody wins.
What the kids need is our love, care, and time. Our kids are too precious to put off until we have time. The dishes may have to wait and maybe even the cows or the books if your child wants to tell you something that happened at school or a problem that’s bothering them.
Now comes the hard part—we as parents and grandparents have to try to be flexible. We have to adapt to changes and try hard not to say, “Now when I was growing up we did it this way.” At the same time, the young people on the other side of this generation gap have to realize that we have a right to be firm and can count on their cooperation especially when it involves their safety or well-being. We have a right to expect them to do their part to help the family and that they may have to make some sacrifices just as we have had to do in the past and as our parents did. And most of all, both sides have to talk, discuss, and compromise in order to work out our problems.
So let’s get going, stop texting, and put the phone down for a minute, turn off the television and start listening and talking again. We’ve got to find out who those kids are living with us before it’s too late.
Kathy Smith is a farm wife from Wayne Township. She writes for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.