Bridging The Gap With Your Kids
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
Stand back and take a good look at your kids and their activities. Now, for those of you over 40 years of age, think back to what you were doing as kids 'way back in the day'. Let me draw a comparison. When I was a very little kid we had no TV because it hadn't yet been invented! Imagine that! What on earth did we do with ourselves?
I'll tell you what we did. We played with our friends, rode our bikes and horses, made huts, went swimming at the beach or in the creek, caught eels, cooked and ate them, climbed trees, and went with our parents to visit our relations most Sunday afternoons. We always sat round the table and ate home-cooked meals and enjoyed many lively discussions as we ate. Houses were smaller then so we had to share bedrooms. We were a family who were involved in one another's lives - literally. There was only one car per family and life in general went at a very manageable pace.
OK, now take a giant leap forward to 2014. What do we commonly see? Kids in front of their computers or TV, playing computer games and texting or talking to their friends on cell phones. Meals, often not home-cooked, are eaten in front of TV, in relays, with little opportunity for family conversation. Parents and kids have less to do with one another because work patterns and pace of life have changed. Kids tend to become isolated from one another and from their parents. Their bedrooms have become their own 'play stations' equipped with their own TV, computer and phone. Physical contact is not necessary in order to communicate.
Because of societal trends, kids and parents have tended to slip almost into separate worlds. In fact, I think many of us are losing the art of face-to-face conversation with one another and with different age groups because we have nothing in common to talk about any more.
Having things in common with others creates a sense of belonging , therefore, security. When someone else is interested in my world, I feel cared for, needed, loved and appreciated. Whatever age and stage we are at, we bring our life's experiences, maturity and wisdom into our conversations. Our kids need our input and, strange as it may seem, we need theirs. They do have valuable things to offer, making our lives all the richer. Remember the saying, 'Out of the mouths of babes...? Well, I can think of a number of occasions when my kids have caused me to think differently. Thank goodness! One of my favorites is when my son wisely said to me more than once, "Mom, you have to think outside the box, think OUTSIDE the box!"
How do we 'get our kids back' in the techno world we live in? It isn't easy because we were not raised in their world. However, we do need to catch up. If we don't at least make an attempt, a generational gap will remain and indeed get wider. The way they can appreciate the fun we experienced as kids is for us to plan activities and adventures with them. Just talking about the good old days is not going to cut it. Be interested in what your kids are doing. Ask them questions about their science experiments, their fun activities and their hobbies. Tell them what you think about, and what 'floats your boat'. If you are interested in their stuff, and you include them in yours, it may well show them that other people's lives are also interesting and the gap may close. Oh, and don't forget I am seeing many adults now falling into the techno, 'Let's have our face into the phone or computer trap.' Heaven forbid that we all go the same way!
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to also check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com for further assistance.