Generation Gap: Reality or a Psychological Prejudice

To my mind generation gap is rather reality than a psychological prejudice. It has always been a topical problem and it still remains urgent nowadays.

So what does a generation gap mean? It is a popular term used to describe big differences between people of a younger generation and their elders. This can be defined as occurring ‘when older and younger people do not understand each other because of their different experiences, opinions, habits and behavior’. The term first came into prominence in Western countries during the 1960s, and described the cultural differences between the Baby Boomers and their parents. Although some generational differences have existed throughout history, during this era differences between the two generations grew significantly in comparison to previous times, particularly with respect to such matters as musical tastes, fashion, drug use, culture and politics.

Nowadays you will hardly find a boy or a girl satisfied with their parents. Neither will you find a grown-up, a parent not grumbling over ‘younger generation’ of their children. Pop music, ultra-modern clothes, noisy parties and children’s wish to have more freedom become a stumbling-block on the way of mutual understanding between adults and their offspring and help foster differences between parents and teenagers. So it seems that in most families parents don’t understand their children and children don’t understand their parents.

According to the older generation teenagers are lazy, carefree, ungrateful, impolite and rude. They wear ridiculous clothes, listen to awful music and all they think about is parties, dates, friends and entertainment. Teenagers have very little responsibility and very few problems. But is it really so? If we look inside the mind of a teenager, we will see a very different picture. Teenagers are greatly worried about a great number of things: their appearance, relations with friends, parents and teachers, the way other people (especially their peers) treat them. They suffer from pimples, bullies, problems at school, misunderstanding with their boyfriend/girlfriend, lack of self-confidence, etc. Teenagers often don’t know what they are good at and their future seems to be rather vague. Every day they face a lot of stressful situations and feel depressed. Besides they have constant pressure from betters and elders as to how they should act, behave, look and feel.

There are a lot of books and films devoted to the problem of the generation gap. One of such films is ‘Freaky Friday’ (2003). The wide generation gap between Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her teenage daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) is more than evident. They simply cannot understand each other’s preferences. They have absolutely different views on clothes, hair, music, duties and even people. On a Friday morning the mother and the daughter switch bodies. As they adjust with their new personalities, they begin to understand each other more and eventually they gain respect for the other’s point of view. It is ‘selfless love’ that changes them back.

But of course there is no magic in real life, that’s why there should be some other way to bridge the gap between parents and their children. To my mind communication is the best way to solve the problem. The more time adults and children spend together, the more they talk and discuss different things the better they understand each other. It is very important to be selfless and open-minded, patient and sincere. Despite the great changes in the electronic and technological environment in the last several decades, a defined gap does not separate today’s generations as it did in the sixties and seventies. So the ‘generation gap’ can disappear. If we are a little wiser, children will find a key to the heart of their parents and vice versa.

1. Complete each sentence (A-H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. ‘Generation gap’ is a popular term used to describe
B. The term first came into prominence
C. Pop music, ultra-modern clothes, noisy parties and children’s wish to have more freedom become
D. According to the older generation teenagers are
E. Teenagers are greatly worried about
F. Besides they have constant pressure from betters and elders
G. The more time adults and children spend together, the more they talk and discuss different things
H. Despite the great changes in the electronic and technological environment in the last several decades
1. their appearance, relations with friends, parents and teachers, the way other people treat them.
2. the better they understand each other.
3. big differences between people of a younger generation and their elders.
4. a defined gap does not separate today’s generations as it did in the sixties and seventies.
5. in Western countries during the 1960s.
6. lazy, carefree, ungrateful, impolite and rude.
7. a stumbling-block on the way of mutual understanding between adults and their offspring.
8. as to how they should act, behave, look and feel.
2. Explain in other words — to come into prominence
— generationaI differences
— to grumble over
— a stumbling block
— to foster differences
— lack of self-confidence
— stressful situations
— to have constant pressure from smb
— to bridge the gap

3. Answer the questions 1) Why do generational differences exist?
2) How can you describe a typical teenager/grown-up?
3) What problems do teenagers usually face?
4) What books and films devoted to the problem of the generation gap do you know?
5) What are the ways to bridge the gap between parents and children?
6) Does a defined gap separate today’s generations? Why?
7) How can you characterize your relationships with your parents and grandparents? Do you understand each other’s opinions, habits, behavior and preferences?
8) Do you agree that children’s job is ‘to try their wings’ and parents’ job is ‘to let them fly away’? Comment on your answer.
4. Read the letters written by the teens who have problems with their parents. Give them some tips
Kathie, 16. My parents don’t understand me! ‘They treat me as if I were a kid though I am already 16! I want to go clubbing and bowling, I want to meet my friends and go to different parties. ‘But they tell me to think^more about school and my studies. ‘When I go somewhere I have to be at home not later than 10 1″M. It’s ridiculous and all my friends laugh at me. fMy father almost had a stroke when he learnt that I had a boyfriend. Jiow can I make them understand that I’m not a child any more?
Ben, 15. My classmates bully me. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m shy and a bit fat or wear spectacles. I told my parents about my problem but they said it was quite all right and that I had to patch things up myself. They seem to be absolutely indifferent to what’s going on in my life. They don’t care about what I feel or what I want. I’d like to become a computer programmer, but Юad says I must become a lawyer. But what about my dreams? I’m torn between wanting to take a stand, and not wanting to upset my parents.
Nelly, 14. My parents are too harden me. ‘We have great difficulties with understanding each other. Tvery day I hear »Don’t listen to this music’, ‘Don’t talkito this girl — she is spoilt’, »Don’t invite your friends’ … Sometimes I feel irritated and we quarrel. I’m really tired of such a don’t-do-it way of upbringing. My parents are convinced that everything I do is wrong. T)o I really deserve such an attitude?

5. Read the quotations below. Choose any statement and comment on it — ‘The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated in a contemporary antagonism known as the generation gap.’ (Spiro T. Agnew)
— ‘Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.’ (Haim Ginott)
— ‘Every generation needs a new revolution.’ (Thomas Jefferson)
‘Trouble is, kids feel they have to shock their elders and each generation grows up into something harder to shock.’ (Ben Lindsey)
‘Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.’ (Lewis Mumford)
‘Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.’ (George Orwell)
‘Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation.’ (Ronald Reagan)

Look at the picture by Bidstrupp. What can you say about the artist’s understanding of the problem of the generation gap? The words and word combinations in brackets can help you. (a topical problem, to remain urgent, to exist throughout history, to grumble over younger generation, a stumbling-block, generational differences, to have different views on smth, to bridge the gap, the lessons of the past, to shock parents, to be at war with elders, to revolt against, to make the same mistakes)
A. Give the definition of generation gap.
B. Read the text ‘Generation Gap: Reality or a Psychological Prejudice’. Comment on the title of the text.

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Generation Gap: Reality or a Psychological Prejudice