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Passions in Poetry

The Generation Gap

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brian madden
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since 05-06-2000
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0 posted 07-11-2001 03:28 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

The Generation Gap? Does it exist? ok I know this is not exactly the deepest of conversations, more emotional than intellectual but I had to ask.
I am not just talking about the typical difference in opinion over issues but the whole thing.

Is it a natural reaction to detach yourself from your parents? I don't mean to hate them, but... I don't want to get personal and moan about my home life because it is good, caring parents but they are just different people to me. I do long for that closeness I had when I was younger but it does not seem to be there. I want them to share my interests and understand me but have so little in common. I love them but I feel independent of them. Is this a natural feeling or should I be sending this as a letter to Oprah instead.

I am sure there is a freudian theory here, besides the ones about sex, but my poor brain is lacking a certain enlightment in some areas of philosophies.

"Here I am in prison,here I am with a ball and chain There is whiskey in the jar-o" Traditional irish song.

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since 05-27-2001
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1 posted 07-12-2001 01:13 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I think it's more a matter of parents detaching themselves from youth- children haven't yet experienced the things parents have- that is, adulthood, parenthood- so it's really impossible for a kid to become detached from something he/she doesn't know.

Parents forget what youth was like, and then forget how to even relate to it. My mother hasn't- we relate very well, we're both kinda left-wing anti-conformist feminists (my mom, unlike many, hasn't grown conservative with age, and I think that's the biggest issue)- but my dad? If I even mention "liberal" (by liberal, I mean non-Catholic non-hetero and non-racist) ideals to my father, I get my head bitten off.

It's the parents, not the kids, that change.

everything's fine.

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since 05-23-99
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2 posted 07-12-2001 02:56 AM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Yeah Brian, I'd say it exists, but to differ with Hush, I'd say that it's not just the parents or adults that change, but teens and younger as's just harder to spot while you are going through it.

Now, if you originally meant Generation Gap, I can see several, and I do think they exist. There's one between my parents and I, based on life experiences and how they were raised...whole different era (pre-1950). And, I can see one between people my age and those younger (post-1980). FYI, I was born in 1970, and believe me, I see the difference in culture, society, values, ethics, and tastes. But I digress.

On the topic at hand, I think it's more of the teens detaching from parents than vice-versa, as they seek their identities, personalities, and freedoms, trying out wings and having experiences they somehow feel no parent or adult has gone through. It's not that the older people have forgotten what it's like to be a kid or teen, but rather the teens thinking the parents don't understand. The lady I live with has a teen daughter, and although Jen feels she can't talk with her mom about anything since her mom obviously doesn't understand her, Pat was very much like Jen when she was a teen, and had similar, if not identical, problems, thoughts and issues during her own teen years. But Pat trying to talk to Jen about life is pretty pointless. It's human nature not to believe the stove is hot until you touch it, and life experiences can only come that way...through living them. And, with the above life example, it's not so much a Generation Gap, but a Communication Breakdown, though that is an over-simplification of the familial variables in every single child-parent relationship, which can be highly complex, not to mention convoluted.


“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”  Charles Darwin

Local Rebel
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3 posted 07-12-2001 02:46 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I believe it was Churchil who said 'a man not liberal in youth has no heart... not conservative in age has no mind'

That said; it is not my job to be my children's friend.. it is my job to be their parent -- which means keeping their welfare in mind at all times regardless of whether or not they will like me.  To this end I must use my life experience and what it has taught me.. which often means my opinions have changed from when I was in youth.

The changes I've experienced however are not from liberal to conservative... as I get older and wiser I find myself becoming more and more liberal on social issues and less liberal on fiscal issues... depending on the issue.

brian madden
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4 posted 07-12-2001 03:10 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Hush I have to disagree. I think the problem might be that the parents DON'T change. I know that as a teenager I felt myself becoming more detached from my mother, particularly. My mother is a homemaker so I spent most of my time with her. MY father worked late hours, so my relationship with him is on a different level. It is with my mother that I have that special attachment, and to feel it being lost for a reason I could not understand. I moved away from home at the age of 17. Finally sedated my teenage angst and got on better with my mother, but I feel we are entirely different. Our outlook in life is different, I want to educate myself improve myself. My parents have different priorities. I know the feeling about "non-hetero." It is a big issue with my best friend's family. Fortunately it is not something I have to deal with. I know my father's feelings on the matter, he is not comfortable with the idea, still a lot of people my age and even younger are homophobic.
I guess I just want to be able to connect with my parents for them to understand me fully, to have that bound with them. I love them dearly but we are not the same kind of people.

Ali, I think you are right about the pre 50's. It was also like a second Enlightenment took place from the 6o's on wards. I know it did in Ireland. Our country made huge leaps in the 80's.  I guess it is different generations different eras.

LR, I agree with your point "it is my job to be their parent." Still I am reminded of a Philip Larkin quote.
"Your Mum and Dad, they ______ you up." I think Larkin went way overboard with that comment, being a parent has to be the hardest thing ever. You are responsible for another life. Your actions will shape that person for the rest of their lives.  

"Here I am in prison,here I am with a ball and chain There is whiskey in the jar-o" Traditional irish song.

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5 posted 07-13-2001 02:46 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I don't mean that parents change while their kids turn into teenagers- maybe it would make more sense to chalk it up to both changing- as young kids, children don't focus on those kinds of issues- but as teens, when real issues surface, children may find that their parents (who probably weren't much different from them as kids) are in a completely different reality. It's not a matter of kids changing, because kids could never really relate to the adults in the first place, as kids... Maybe it's just a transitional period of misunderstanding until a mutual adult understanding can be reached... I don't know I'm tired and babbling, Sorry.

everything's fine.

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6 posted 07-13-2001 04:34 AM       View Profile for Skyfyre   Email Skyfyre   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Skyfyre

I have to agree with Ali and Local Rebel here.  It's likely you that has done most of the changing -- and most likely your notion of "change" in your parents is a difference in perception on your part, not a difference in behavior on theirs.

At the risk of sounding like a doddering and full-fledged adult here, Brian: a person your age is putting the "finishing touches" on the person he is going to be as an adult.  Does this mean that your tastes will never again change, and that you will stangnate into oblivion?  Absolutely not; you will learn to like cognac or dislike pizza, your music taste will mellow or lean toward something a bit more lively ... your fashion sense will evolve either in conjunction with or in opposition to the rest of the world ... but the person you are on less superficial levels will have more or less developed and will lose a bit of the flexibility and outright wild unpredictability of youth.  You will have certain more or less immutable ideas about the world around you and your role in it, and such ideas will be less subject to whim than they were as a child (or a teen).  You will finally learn to shudder at the implications of the words "Just wait till YOU have children of your own!"  

Now I'm sure if I refernced Erikson and Freud I could find a few psychological theories to explain this, but frankly I've not the energy tonight so I'll just mimic your parents and say "take my word for it -- you'll understand when you're older." LOL

So while parents everywhere might not deserve the designation "set in their ways," I might soften the label somewhat and say that they are, instead, set in their priorities.  The growing pains are over -- the person has finished creating him- or herself -- just in time to start paying the bills.     Suddenly things like the latest movie, novel or CD seem to pale in comparison to the two extra hours of sleep one would have to lose to enjoy them ... or perhaps the money could be better spent somewhere else.  Snowboarding and skydiving are reserved for maniacs who don't have children who need to be driven to school the next day -- have you ever tried driving with your arm/leg/entire body in a cast?     The list of responsibilties grows longer while the days grow shorter ... and pretty soon you're wondering if that was really you who thought that thirty was "really old."

Well, OK, I digressed ... but we senile oldsters do that from time to time, yanno?  Either way I hope it helped you understand in advance what you will be going through, and what your parents have already experienced which makes them more concerned with being a parent than being a friend.  



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7 posted 07-15-2001 06:07 PM       View Profile for Mike   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mike

While Churchill has provided us with some memorable quotes, the liberal/conservative quote is not one of them. It is a popular myth, but not the Prime Minister's words.
(my anal retentive side)
brian madden
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8 posted 07-15-2001 06:30 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts so far, I don't have the time to respond at the moment but will when I next get the chance. It is turning into an interesting discussion.

"Here I am in prison,here I am with a ball and chain There is whiskey in the jar-o" Traditional irish song.

Irish Rose
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9 posted 07-15-2001 06:32 PM       View Profile for Irish Rose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Irish Rose

My children are 26, 24 and 18. Yes, the relationship is so much different than when they were small. I have to learn how to discuss things with them on an adult level and realize they are adults, not children. We have a different relationship but one I feel I can enjoy and nurture just as I did while they were growing up.  I too, was a homemaker and stayed in the house for 20 years before returning to work.  I spoiled them rotten!  Well, I guess I would do it all again because I just loved doing it.

But I can't relate to the same kind of music they love and often times I haven't a clue as to my daughter's fashion sense, so I just feel out of the mix.  yes, there is a gap but there's also the bridge of family and believe me, that makes all of the difference!

"It's easier to kill love than to nurture it" Fred Hardesty


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10 posted 07-18-2001 10:53 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

To echo Irish Rose's last thought...  A gap is the perfect setting for a bridge.

My parents and I are very different, yet the love is strong and well rooted.  And so the bridge out-spans the gap.

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Member Rara Avis
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Deep in the heart

11 posted 07-19-2001 12:55 PM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

It is a common responsibility, born out of love and mutual respect, for both parents and children to reach out for each other.

As my children were growing up it was my responsibility to earn a living, provide food and shelter, be a father (disiplinarian, teacher, advisor) and a friend (confidant, teacher, advisor, companion) while setting an example for them in their adulthood.  Their responsibility was to obey, observe, be responsible, learn, and be a friend.  

It is important that parents learn about the music their children like and share it with them.  It is just as important that the children learn about the music the parents like and share it with them.  You get a lot of "gee, that's wierd stuff" from both sides, yet the foundation for understanding and appreciation is set.

We won't discuss the religious aspect of raising children here, but it is most important for both parents and children.

All three of my children, two boys and a girl, know me as a friend yet they have the utmost respect for me because they know I have the utmost respect for them.  They know I love them because never a day passed that I didn't hug them and tell them I loved them.  I know they love me because every time we talk or meet I am told how much they love me and they give me a hug.  And the boys are not at all self-conscious of hugging their father in public or of expressing their love for me in public ... and I feel and act the same way.

It is not a two-way street as some suggest.  It is a one-way street with the parents and children travelling together in the same direction ... beginning with the parents leading and evolving with them walking side-by-side and hand-in-hand into the future.   Ultimately, in the parent's old age, the children take the lead and the parents follow in many ways, yet they can still lead in areas where the children have no experience.

Probably the hardest thing children have to learn is that parents try to teach their children to avoid the errors they made while growing up ... they aren't giving orders just to hear their own voices.  And the hardest thing parents have to learn is that they can learn from their children ... every day.

Fool, said my Muse to me, look in thy heart and write.
Philip Sidney (1554-1586) Loving in Truth

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