In the Indian community, we affectionately call men & women in our community “uncles” and “aunties”. There seems to be a huge disconnect between our two generations because of the VASTLY different cultures that we both grew up in. Indian and American cultures are completely different, so understandably, we get ourselves into misunderstandings pretty often. For example, although an aunty may think she’s doing me a favor by mentioning I gained a little weight so that I can work on shedding a few pounds, I spiral into a deep depression instead, and wonder how many social events I can skip to avoid seeing her until I look like a Skinny Mini version of myself. Or, (and this is my favorite), when we get phone calls from our parents when we’re with our friends, and they talk as loud as when they’re trying to reach their relatives in India on a bad phone connection? Little things like this may cause a rift between the older generation and younger ones, and sometimes it can last much longer than we expect it to.
So how can we help fix this generation gap? Well, first off let’s take a look at what Scripture says about honoring our parents:
“Children, obey your parents in all things, because this pleases the Lord.” – Colossians 3:20
You’re probably thinking “Why did we just focus our attention on our parents?” The thing is, we can’t start respecting the adults in our community, if that doesn’t begin with the adults who raised us! For some of you, this may be your grandparents, a single parent, or other caretakers. Regardless of who they might be, focus on the adult(s) who took care of you and helped shape you into who you are today for the rest of this post. And keep in mind these wise words said by Billy Graham:
“A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.”
Now, let’s get back to that verse in Colossians. We are directly commanded by God to obey our parents, and He even mentions here that it PLEASES Him when we do so. Now, for those of us who grew up in the church, this is often one of the first Bible lessons that we are taught as children. And if we’re going to be honest, some of us may have wondered why it was such a big deal. But the more I consider this commandment, the more it makes sense. Check this quote out:
“What a mercy was it to us to have parents that prayed for us before they had us, as well as in our infancy when we could not pray for ourselves!” – John Flavel
It’s true, isn’t it?
I know what half of you might be thinking. “This girl does NOT know my parents. She has no idea what our relationship is like, and if she thinks that I’ll honor mine then she must be out of her mind!” Hold your horses. Yes, it’s true, our parents aren’t perfect either. They have their own flaws, but wouldn’t you say you do as well? Maybe some of you have parents who don’t even follow the Bible, but what if this is an opportunity for you to encourage them through YOUR obedience to God’s word?
You see, we want to fix this problem. We want this generation gap to be bridged so badly so we can all get along better. But we can’t just submit this to God as a prayer request and leave it at that. We have to take action. So what’re some practical steps we can take towards bridging the generation gap between us and the older generation? Here are a few that come to mind:
1. Encourage an older adult this week. Point out a couple things that you admire about them or acknowledge that they’re doing a good job at something. How great do you feel when someone notices the hard work you’ve put into something? Older adults enjoy that feeling too!
1 Peter 4:10 – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”
2. Pray for them. How many of our parents are on their knees daily, earnestly praying for their kids? They need prayer as much as we do. For those of you who are also first generation kids in America, you are probably well aware of what your parents sacrificed in order to raise you here. Thank God for them.
1 Timothy 2:1 – “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…”
3. Get to know the older adults in your community. Spend time with them. If your parents give you a phone call, engage in conversation with them instead of trying to get off the phone immediately. Learn about their story! You’d be surprised how many interesting things we’d know about them if we just asked.
2 Corinthians 13:11 – “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Though seemingly simple, the better we are about taking these measures, the closer we will inevitably become to the older adults in our community. And while treating them with the respect that God expects us to give them, you will earn their respect as well. The intimacy of a community depends on the people who are a part of it. So what are you willing to do?