Ruth Ann Trisch, age 9, of Braddock, Pennsylvania, for her question:
What exactly is this generation gap?
Nine year olds and younger children tend to feel scared by this so called generation gap. And no wonder. We are told that it has something to do with campus protests, fierce riots in the streets and other wild goings on. Andy says, don't be upset and stay well away from the fuss. A generation gap is nothing new, nothing special. This one just happens to be a lot more noisy than usual.
Children, parents and grandparents count as one two three generations. The genera¬tions overlap because all sorts of older and young people share the world. It is proper for parents to help their children and most of them want to do their best. They have lived in the world maybe 25 years longer and they feel they know what's best for their children. But, let's face it, children do not agree with all these details. Sometimes they want to decide a few things for themselves. So the older and younger folk have a few different ideas.
This difference is a generation gap and usually it does not amount to much. Parents and children both understand it and make allowances. There may be some arguments and even a few tantrums. But kindness, polite manners and maybe a few jokes help to smooth things along. In a few years the children grow up and get a chance to try out some of their own ideas. Some of their ideas really are improvements. This is why the world gets better, generation by generation.
For ages, life was a hard struggle for almost everybody. Then, when your grandpar¬ents were young, lots of things changed very fast. TV and dozens of other things were invented to make life more pleasant. Washing machines, adding machines and other gadgets made life easier. Children now have more toys. Teenagers have cars to go places and a chance to learn about the rest of the world. Nowadays, everybody has more fun. But sensible people know that our new gadgets did not make the world perfect. Many people are still hungry and sick, overworked and underpaid. Our young generation of teenagers and students want to make things better for everybody. Most of them know that this takes hard work and good sense. They are busy, quietly learning about the world and just how they can help to make it better.
But a few young people think they are super smart. They demand a new and perfect world for everybody right this minute. This magic does not work. So they get very angry. They blame the older generation because the world is not perfect. This makes the older folk angry. The two generations cannot talk together without squabbling. They cannot understand each other or so they pretend. Both sides feel very, very sorry for themselves. They are so busy with this wild generation gap that they have no time left to improve the world. The angry young people rebel and shout louder for their perfect world right this minute. They forget that nine year olds also are people and that these wild antics sometimes scare the younger children. But be patient. In a few years, your generation will get a chance to help the world.
Naturally you already have a few generation problems of your own. There are times when you disagree with your parents and want to do as you please. This sort of generation gap is not serious if you know about kindness and good manners. Then most family squabbles end in hugs and merriment. Jokes also help. Maybe you know a few jokes about this wild generation gap. Now is a good time to start telling them around. But for goodness sake, be sure not to scare the youngsters.