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Why Can’t My Parents Understand Me? Were they never young?

Harold Robert Meyer /The ADD Resource Center  http://www.addrc.org/ 12/16/2023

Generational differences and the challenge of comprehending one another.

Many of us have experienced frustration and bewilderment when communicating with our parents. It often feels like an insurmountable barrier between us, preventing them from truly understanding our thoughts, emotions, and aspirations. But why is it so difficult for our parents to understand us? Did they never go through the same struggles and challenges we face today?

The changing times: How the world has evolved since your parents’ youth (Yes, they were young once.)
The world has undergone significant transformations since our parents were young. Technological advancements, globalization, and shifting societal norms have shaped how we experience life today. Our parents grew up when smartphones, social media, and the internet were non-existent. They had to rely on traditional forms of communication and information gathering. It is crucial to acknowledge that our world vastly differs from the one they knew during their youth.

Moreover, our parents’ experiences were shaped by different historical events and cultural phenomena. They might have witnessed political upheavals, economic recessions, or technological breakthroughs that shaped their worldview. These experiences have influenced their values, beliefs, and perspectives, making it challenging for them to fully comprehend and relate to the complexities of our modern world.
Most parents tend to remember (even if they say it doesn’t apply) things being better than they were and current situations dealing with you as being worse than they might be). According to Weird Al Yankovic Why Can’t They Be Like We Were Perfect in Every Way)

Psychological factors: The impact of age and experience on perspective
As individuals age, their perspectives naturally evolve. Our parents have accumulated years of life experiences shaping their perception of the world. They have faced successes and failures, joys and sorrows, and have learned valuable lessons. These experiences often lead to a more cautious and conservative outlook, as they prioritize stability and security.

On the other hand, as young individuals, we are discovering our identities and exploring the possibilities that lie ahead. We are more inclined to take risks, embrace change, and challenge the status quo. This perspective contrast can create a disconnect between generations as our parents struggle to comprehend our seemingly unpredictable and unconventional choices.

Communication barriers: Different communication styles and technology usage
One of the most significant challenges in bridging the generation gap is the difference in communication styles. Our parents may prefer face-to-face conversations, while we are accustomed to texting, instant messaging, and social media interactions. This disparity in communication methods can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, as different nuances and contexts are lost in translation.
Additionally, our parents may need to be more well-versed in the latest technologies and social media platforms. This can hinder their ability to connect with us digitally, as they might need to grasp the significance of online communities and virtual relationships fully. It is essential to be patient and understanding, guiding them through these technological advancements while finding common ground in more traditional forms of communication. Much of what we communicate to our parents is via current language and slang, which they don’t process or understand. It reminds them that they are getting older. Their thought might then unconsciously be, “I have only x years remaining; I have to get them to perfection immediately.”

Cultural differences: Shifting societal norms and values
Societal norms and values have undergone significant transformations over the years. What was considered acceptable or taboo during our parents’ youth may no longer hold in our present society. This cultural shift can create conflicts, resistance, and misunderstandings between generations. Our parents might find it challenging to comprehend our choices, beliefs, and lifestyles that deviate from the norms they were raised with. The security blanket they rely on is being disrupted.

Empathy and understanding: Bridging the gap through open dialogue
Empathy plays a vital role in bridging the generation gap. Put yourself in your parent’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. Recognize that their intentions are rooted in love and concern, even if they struggle to grasp your experiences fully. Please share your thoughts and emotions with them so they can better understand your unique challenges and goals. While we want things fast and simple, they prefer things slow and steady (apart from immediate changes in us to meet their instant gratification needs).

Open dialogue is critical to fostering understanding. Listen actively to your parents’ concerns and ask questions to seek clarification. Similarly, please share your thoughts and emotions, allowing them to understand your perspective better. You can find common ground through open and respectful communication and bridge the gap between you. Listen to understand, not to respond. Don’t tune them out.

Parenting styles: How your parents were raised and its influence on their understanding
Understanding your parents’ upbringing can shed light on their parenting styles and ability to understand you. Reflect on their experiences with their parents and the values instilled in them. Different parenting styles can stem from cultural, generational, and personal factors. By gaining insight into their upbringing, you can better understand their approach to parenting and their struggles in comprehending your experiences.

The role of emotions: Managing conflicts and finding common ground
Emotions play a significant role in the generation gap. Conflicts arise when emotions run high, making it challenging to communicate effectively. It is crucial to manage conflicts calmly and constructively. Sometimes, our parents become out of control because they realize they are losing control and can’t “absorb” what is being said. All parties need to listen to what is being said; not listen to respond, but listen to understand. Take a step back when tensions rise and allow time for emotions to settle. When both parties are more rational, engage in a thoughtful and respectful conversation to find common ground and resolve differences.

Nurturing a healthy relationship: Tips for improving communication with your parents
Building a healthy relationship with your parents requires effort and understanding from both sides. Here are some tips to improve communication and bridge the generation gap:
Practice active listening: Pay attention to your parents’ words, body language, and emotions. Show genuine interest in their thoughts and concerns.

Be patient and understanding: Remember that change takes time. Be patient with your parents as they navigate the complexities of the modern world. They are not at your level yet.

Find common interests: Discover shared hobbies or activities that can serve as a bonding experience.
Seek professional help if necessary: If conflicts persist and communication remains strained, consider seeking the assistance of an ADHD coach (addrc.org), family therapist, or counselor to facilitate constructive dialogue.
Conclusion: Embracing differences and building a stronger bond with your parents.

You might make your life easier by nurturing your relationship with your parents. Although it will never be perfect, you can try bridging the generation gap. This complex gap has multiple factors, including changing times, psychological differences, communication barriers, cultural differences, and parenting styles. Therefore, it is essential to acknowledge these factors to have a healthy relationship with them. We can connect with our parents by showing empathy, having open conversations, and nurturing our bond. We should accept and celebrate the differences between generations. It’s never too late to start communicating better with your parents. Take the first step towards bridging the generation gap by initiating an honest conversation with them today. Remember to be patient since they might be at a different pace.

While patience is difficult when either one or more in the relationship has ADHD, try it and be pleasantly surprised.

Harold Robert Meyer /The ADD Resource Center http://www.addrc.org/ 12/16/2023
Harold and the ADD Resource Center have been providing compassionate guidance, ADHD and Life coaching, and quality information to individuals, couples, and healthcare providers, demystifying and destigmatizing ADHD.

Before leaving, here is a bonus to help your parents see the way. Letter to Mom and Dad: addrc.org/letter-to-mom-and-dad/

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