By Bai Yun
For many parents, the generation gap between them and their children is a big headache. Regardless of how high and mighty outside we are, we have no idea what to do when faced with our children. Before we have a few words with our children, an argument frequently starts just because of the different opinions. The generation gap which exists between parents and children has become an impenetrable gulf. For this, many people can’t help but feel distressed: Why is there such a huge friction and gulf among the closest persons? And when the conflicts arise, how can we resolve them?
The vacation came, and I was finally able to see my son who studied out of town.
I happily rode an electric scooter to fetch my son. At the railway station, when seeing my travel-stained son who grew taller and got fatter, I felt greatly comforted in my heart, thinking: After getting home, we could have a nice chat. On the way back home, my son said to me, “Mom, I had a trip with my classmates a few days ago. It is really costly. Just one week, I spent 2000 yuan.” When I heard he spent so much money on the trip, my good mood instantly disappeared. I thought: “How immature this child is! Our family is not wealthy and we have to support you to attend college. You know that, why did you waste so much money? …” As I thought, the anger in my heart surged up constantly. I really wanted to blame him. But the money had already been spent, what should I do? What’s more, he was grown up. I didn’t want to blame him in public, either. I’d better talk with him about this later.
After we returned home, my son put his bag away and lay on the bed for a rest. I sat by his side and wanted to chat about his spending money on the trip, but I didn’t know how to start. After hesitating for a while, I asked him gently, “Son, what interesting places are there in your trip?” He replied, “There are mountains and rivers. It is a good trip, just too tiring.” Hearing he felt tired, I became angrier at once. I thought: Is there any fun in the trip? Don’t you pay good money for suffering trouble? We are not rich, why aren’t you grown up? I couldn’t keep my temper any longer and said to him with a reproachful sound, “Son, if the college organized the sketch, and we wanted to do a good work, we should spend this money. But if you delayed your study and wasted money on the trip, it is not suitable. You know our family’s condition. We can’t compare with those children from rich families …” Almost before I had finished my speaking, he pulled a long face at once, and turned his back on me, playing Wechat or watching video on his smart phone. It was obvious that he didn’t want to talk with me. Originally, I had many words to talk with him, but when seeing him give me a silent treatment, I felt sad: I just said a few words to him, how can he treat me in that way? Am I not good for him? Why is it so hard to communicate with him?
After this thing, I brought this difficulty before God and prayed to God. Then I saw a passage of God’s words, “If both sides lived by normal humanity, and if they were able to reach possession of the truth, with both sides putting themselves in each other’s shoes, and taking into account each other’s difficulties, from the perspective of normal humanity, and both sides standing on an equal footing when they interacted, spoke to each other, and did things, would this stop the estrangement developing between them? What causes what the unbelievers call the ‘generation gap’? Isn’t it that the older generation acts high and mighty, and the younger generation doesn’t like them doing so, which produces the estrangement, and leads to the generation gap—isn’t that how it comes about? If parents don’t act high and mighty, and the children can open up to them, and treat them as intimates, could there still be the estrangement between them? In particular, parents always treat their children like slaves, or else spoil them, overindulge them, and dote on them like a kitten or a puppy, whilst holding them tight, keeping a tight rein on them, strictly controlling them—with the result that the child stops being a child, and being a parent becomes very tiring.” “You don’t need to scold them, you don’t need to speak loudly, or shout at them, much less use words, or a tone, or an intonation that are blunt. You just need to learn to use a normal tone, commune from the position and status of an ordinary person, speak calmly, speak the words in your heart, endeavor to pour out what you understand, what other people need to understand, and speak clearly and understandably. When what you say is understandable, other people will understand, your burden will be released, they will cease to have misunderstandings, and you will see what you say more clearly; isn’t this edifying both of you? Is there any need to harangue them? In many cases, there is no need to force this upon them. … And what is the purpose of speaking heart-to-heart? Is it to maintain a proper relationship between parents and children? Let Me tell you, narrowly speaking, the purpose of speaking heart-to-heart is for there to be normal human communication, having an exchange of minds. That’s narrowly speaking. Broadly speaking, it is for people to understand each other’s state, learn from each other, support each other, and help one another—that’s the effect. And thus, isn’t the relationship by which people interact with each other normal?” (“What Should One Possess, at the Very Least, to Have Normal Humanity”).
God’s words woke me up all of a sudden: There is an estrangement between my son and me, just because I assume my place as a parent and put myself on a high position. Neither do I consider his thoughts and feelings in his position, nor do I stand on an equal footing to communicate with him. I only instill my thoughts into him and ask him to obey my every word. I think I said a few words to him for his own good, and he should understand my good intention. I never expected that this is the root that causes conflict between us. Unconsciously, there is a generation gap developing between my son and me. Thinking of my son’s spending money on traveling, once I heard he spent 2000 yuan in one week, I lost my temper and blamed him indiscriminately. I just thought he was so immature and didn’t consider the economic condition of our family. When I expressed my dissatisfaction toward him, it directly aroused our conflict, making our relationship frozen. In fact, my son has already grown up and has his own minds and opinions in everything. I can’t treat him as a baby, requiring him to do everything according to my means. If I put aside my position as a mother, stand the equal footing to communicate with him, consider the questions from his perspective, and listen to his heart voice more, and if I chat with him about my thoughts, letting him know my opinions, isn’t it easy for us to have a good communication? Will not many problems be solved readily? At the moment, I came to know what I should do.
After supper, I let go of the air of a mother, sat on the edge of the bed and asked my son, “Son, don’t you feel I always take charge of you and don’t allow you to do anything? Actually, I don’t want to keep nagging you. I just want to give you a heads-up sometimes. I’m afraid you go wrong. But I didn’t expect what I did was implanting my thoughts in you and neglecting to listen to your opinions and views. You are grown up now and have your own minds. In some things you can also decide for yourself. I should not make you listen to me in everything. Hereafter, if you have something to say, don’t keep it to yourself. You can open up to me, and we can communicate with each other.” Hearing my words, my son saw me with his eyes shining, asking, “Mom, do you not blame me?” I nodded. Then my son put down his smart phone and said, “I know it is difficult for you and dad to support me to go to college. I’m not sensible this time. When seeing my classmates went out traveling, I couldn’t help going with them to see the world. I really should not spend this money. I’ll spend the money carefully in the future. Mom, what you said is right. It’s my fault. I have grown up, I should not be so self-willed. I should be considerate about you and dad.” I couldn’t say how delightful it was to hear my son’s words. I never thought when I put myself aside and had a heart-to-heart with my son, the atmosphere of cold war between us immediately changed.
It was only after this experience that I understood: As for the generation gap and estrangement between us and our children, it is not because of the fault of our children. But because we, as parents, are unable to put ourselves aside to stand on an equal footing speaking intimate words with our children. We always sententiously talk with them, making them suffer from bondage and oppression, without being free or released, so our children naturally rebel at getting along and talking with us. Only if we get off our high horse as a parent, stand on an equal footing, try to know their thoughts from their viewpoint, and have a heart-to-heart communication with them, can the conflicts and misunderstandings between us be solved. And by then, our children will regard us parents as their bosom friends; there will not exist generation gap or estrangement between us parents and children.