Mind the gap, please when you are communicating with your parents. Sure, mind the gap is a London underground catchphrase but not doing so can lead to serious consequences. And so can not considering that there are likely many generation gaps between you and your parents. This gap, unto itself, can raise illusive barriers as well as very tangible ones that makes it very difficult to communicate during the best of times, let alone during the worst of times.
When I was a teen girl, a very long time ago, mind you, I didn’t have the nerve to speak to my parents about certain topics that were looming large in my life—dating, peer pressure, body image concerns and so on. It was not the done thing and quite fankly, the assumption was that they were not interested and even if they were they wouldn’t share my viewpoint on the issues anyhow.
Make no mistake about it, my parents were not evil people, quite the opposite, but like most of their peers they seemed to have a closed door policy, if you will, concerning certain issues. They set the boundaries, the rules, and we followed them or not as best as we could and suffered the consequences later.
Looking back, however, I can see the errors in my thinking. I could have saved myself a lot of time, emotional outbursts and even heartache, had I even knocked at the door, let alone pushed at it gently.
Fast forward, parental styles nowadays do seem to be more open, but even if they aren’t, there is too much margin for error to allow the door to stay closed. It is crucial to take the lead and gently push the door open to communicate with your parents.
In doing so, however, there are just a few things to mind that might help bridge the foreboding generation gap.
- Maintain Good Terms – Make an effort to maintain good relations with your parents and/or guardians, not just when you need a ride home, money for an activity, etc. But keeping up your end as a family member and actively seeking out opportunities to do something together whether in the kitchen, in the yard, etc. Thinking back, I had some of the best conversations with my dad, when I helped him wash the car.
- Speak Their Language – Sure times have moved on and so many phrases are yesterday, however, not understanding where someone else is coming from raises barriers and causes feelings of exclusion. So TEACH THEM YOUR LANGUAGE, TOO.
- Honour Boundaries – Every family has them, even if they are unspoken but particularly when they are spoken, honour them. Try to do what you agreed and when you can’t acknowledge that you didn’t. However if trying to do something is causing great stress, explain this and try to negotiate a middle ground. What I am not saying is to disrespect the parental no.
- Respect Their No – They have a right to set rules, as they are responsible for you. Having said this, I firmly believe teens have a voice, collectively and individually. Do use your voice respectfully. Throwing the phone down or slamming doors won’t get you a yes anyhow. It is likely to keep the door that you’re trying to open tightly shut. But finding the right time, telling them that it is important to you, that you really need to talk, will help you share your views more confidently and feel valued and assured that your parents are listening, even if they still say no.
- Listen To Them – It is a a two-way street, right. Just as you want them to listen to you, you need to do the same thing. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right for you. Listen without thinking of your comeback or paying lip service quickly and then doing your own thing anyhow. Listening involves processing information and understanding what it is being said and why.
When it is all said and done, remember you might find that you still have fundamental disagreements, considering the generation gap(s), tried and tested values, traditions and so on that contribute to your parents thinking and decision making processes. Still keep in mind that most parents have your best interest at heart and want what they believe is right for you. Take a deep breath, mind the gap please, and gently push the door open to communication that feeds into interdependence for healthy family relations.