SONGSOPTOK: To which generation do you belong? To which generations do the members of your immediate family belong?

ANTORA: Generation X . My immediate family is a perfect mix of Baby Boomers (Parents), Millenials (Brother) and iGen(my son).

SONGSOPTOK: In your opinion, is generation gap a myth or a reality? How would you define generation gap?

ANTORA: As the wheel of time turns, people wear many names. We call them generations. If time is continuous then there is no gap in between. Generations flow from one to another, along with the lives of all people flowing through time and regardless of how different it may be, generation flows through all lives equally. Sometimes the flow take sudden jumps, sharp turns but the homogeneity is never broken. It carries the fundamental characteristics of mankind. The gap is a myth or maybe the lack of understanding of the transformation.

SONGSOPTOK: Have you personally had problems with your previous generations? In which domains specifically? How did you react to it then?

ANTORA: Adolescence is the time when the “gap” is prominent. Like all kids , the growing up years were difficult for me to deal with the previous generation. Wearing the glasses of newly formed opinions, the previous generation appeared like aliens. They looked at me as if I had grown two heads and the same feeling was reciprocated. It was across domains – from wardrobe to friends, from choice of music to choice of breads – it was omnipresent. There was defiance, protest, and high pitch drama (with wholehearted cooperation of extreme emotions). I was no different than any ordinary girl who used to believe that the life had come to a dead-end with old aliens .

SONGSOPTOK: Have you ever heard “You won’t understand” from the next generation? Do you remember the specific situations when you heard it? How do you react? And do you remember saying the same words to your parents / elders? In what context?

ANTORA: I keep hearing this when my son plays PSP and I just want to understand the dynamics of the game. To my eight-year old, I appeared somewhat backdated and had no idea about the video games. First of all, there was a gender bias (I am still surprised where he learnt it) – “Girls do not play video games” and then the perfect script “You won’t understand –mom”. I deal with these things positively (knowing that if I don’t, he would be hurt like me) - try to learn it in my spare time and make forceful participation. Once I do that, first there is a blunt denial (Mom – you can’t do it), then a surprise (When did you learn it?) and finally the acceptance (Come- I will show you). I enjoy breaking his opinion and reward him with a pleasant surprise .It ensures a positive outcome between me and my son, which I didn’t have with my parents. They were afraid of learning or facing challenges with their children, thinking that it was forbidden in parenting. Over time, I realized that parenting is never imposing the ideas you hate to believe. When Kids think or say “you wont understand”, they are not arrogant, they are sad & lonely that they are incapable of sharing. I felt that helpless every time I told the same to my mom and dad and every time they thought the other way.

SONGSOPTOK: In a globalized world all generations dress alike, eat alike, dream alike – is it still possible for generation gap to exist? Or do the reasons for the famous gap lie elsewhere?

ANTORA: Thanks to globalization that it took care of the appearance and habits of generations. Its not really about the “alike-ness” that is to be considered, although I completely agree that it plays a major role to break the ice. Me and my grandmother enjoying the same KFC meal without complaining of it being junk and comparing with the home made dish – is certainly a gap-closer. It opens several doors of age-old jinx that two generations cannot be friends. The reason for the famous gap lies in incorrect upbringing. I feel it very strongly. Handholding the next generation (raising a child) has to be done with patience and improvisation. It is conveniently ignored by most people who are either very busy and have no time to think through, or people who are stuck with conventional parenting. Parenting needs constant improvisation in order to strike a balance between time and need. There is gap when it comes to lack of understanding of basics- my previous generations might have used Neem-barks as toothbrush and the next generation is blessed with angular-bristled NDA approved toothbrushes – but the basics of dental hygiene remains intact. Kids need to learn this from a very early age. Patience will help children with logical understanding – the answers of WHY needs to be as clear as possible to make them confident in comprehending the concept of time.

SONGSOPTOK: Given that in this age of connectivity, it is easier for parents or guardians to keep connected with their children or wards (keep track of their activities through Face book, Whatsapp or whatever) – also make them aware of their own interests and individualities - do you think “generation gap” still exists? If yes, why do you feel so? If no, could you please share with our readers on the ways that you remain connected and how does that help you overcome the gap.

ANTORA: Connectivity and Communication are two pillars of the bridge that brings two generations closer. And both needs to be equally strong – else there would be catastrophe. Parents can be well connected with their children through gadgets and media – they can even track them. But without an effective communication, the connectivity will be futile. If parents and children can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship –as we don’t have to fear. The parents need to communicate the knowledge (and not delegate to the computer) and wait till they turn to wisdom. I know families who just text each other on the updates & whereabouts. They are certainly well connected but the gap between them is enormous. When the generations allow themselves to communicate, there is an outcome to every situation despite rejection or disapproval. There prevails positivity. I talk a lot with my eight –year old. Not mindless rambling, we have proper conversations. We have a set time after dinner, when we talk about the happenings of the day. Like two matured individuals, we share our day’s story. He tells me about his school, his class works, his playmates at the park, any new word/phrase he has come across- then I probe him about his mistakes and misdeeds, and I share mine at the same time. If I had unfinished tasks at  work and got scolded by my boss. We share if we have a rough day and we laugh if there’s something funny. The conversation varies from 10 minutes to 45 minutes. It’s a time when there is sharing and learning at both ends. I find it healing and gives a perspective to teach him some basics. My son knows that if he says the truth, there’s no beating, and he comes up without any hesitation if he does something wrong. Guess when you have this confidence, you are sorted.

SONGSOPTOK: What do you think – is generation gap a gap between two individuals of different age groups or is it really between two generations across individuals? In this context, what role can the parents / elders play to bridge the gap if it exists?

ANTORA: Children never fail to imitate elders. Good advice is not something children look forward to- they need actions. Parents and elders needs to demonstrate what they are trying to impart as knowledge. Respecting elders is the basic knowledge – we discriminate when we respect elders at home and be disrespectful towards elders outside. If you want your child to respect – show them by doing it yourself in and out . They will automatically pick it up. However, many individuals in a family confuse a child with opposite demonstrations. So when it comes to raising a child, either the uniformity needs to be ensured by the parents, or one has to play dominant in order to make the child follow him/her. We consider generation gap to be essentially prevalent in age groups. As a matter of fact, it’s more gender oriented in Indian society. This widens the gap and creates havoc.  “Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.” Benjamin Franklin

SONGSOPTOK: Do you ever face troubles created by generation gap outside your family? Especially in office, educational institutions, market etc.? How do you react to that?

ANTORA: Honestly I have not faced any instances as of now barring some free flowing comments from not-so-known people. It gives me good laugh.

SONGSOPTOK: We feel that generation gap starts creeping in as we age – on one side we try to acquire new things from changed times and on the other – we try to cling to our own inheritances. Do you agree? What would be your advice on how one can overcome this contradiction, if at all?

ANTORA: I agree that we have an irresistible inclination towards our inheritance and we often associate that with our memories. We tag each one with a memory and enjoy biting them like stolen chocolate. In order to keep pace with the changing time – we have to learn to let go of things. It’s hard. It’s hell difficult because no one wants to let go of a comfortable corner for an unknown uncertain territory.  But that’s the only way to be close to the time. Try new things , no matter how hard it is, change is the only constant. Read magazines (you have read enough classics), get yourself updated on new technology (read the reviews of iphone 6S) – the knowledge will take care of the fear of vagueness. Interact with people across age – don’t be too conscious – age is just a number. Use social media to be connected with the world (not only to trace your class V crush), google things that you don’t know , watch news (not only serials) and drink a lot of water (it will help to stay fit) .

SONGSOPTOK: Please leave some parting words for the next generation, your generation and the previous generation that reflect your thoughts on this topic.

ANTORA: “No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion…” Haruki Murakami
We might delay but time wont. So respect time and make the best out of it.

ABOUT YOURSELF: This above all: to thine own self be true….

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)


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