My theory on the generation gap

Image: TuendeBede (Pixabay)

I’ve wondered why different generations grow up valuing different things.

For the older generation, it had to do with work, money and basic needs.

For the younger it’s more about fulfillment, and emotional connection.

This results in the older generation giving their children what they think is good for them (money, work, basic needs), while the younger generation might feel it’s not enough, and wonder why their parents don’t understand them.

I have a simple theory: Felt needs -> gratitude -> relationship

When someone meets your felt needs, you more easily form a relationship with them.

In the past, felt needs were more basic. Times were hard, people felt the strong need for food, and a roof over their heads. Therefore children born in that condition felt these needs strongly, were grateful to parents who clothed, fed, housed them, and enjoyed a good relationship on that basis of being given what they felt they needed.

Now, the young do not know what it’s really like to go hungry, or not have a home (compared to the past). They instead feel more strongly the need for emotional closeness with parents, or being understood by them. This is where the gap comes in: parents give what they see as good (food, clothing, housing), but this does not answer the current felt needs of the younger generation (emotional closeness). Hence the lack of gratitude from the children, and lack of relationship.

If true, this theory has the benefit of not faulting either parents or children for the communication gap. It may not be because the parents don’t care (as children might think when they are constantly given what they did not ask for) or that children are just ungrateful (like parents may think after giving what they think is good for them). Rather, we grew up in different times, feeling different needs which need to be satisfied to feel a sense of gratitude and connection.

Makes sense? Too simple? What do you think? 🙂


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