Bridging the generation gap is something people have been trying to do for ages. Festivals, games and celebrations are the few occasions when the entire family spends quality time together. However, it would be unrealistic to expect such situations every day or every week and hence the widening of the communication gap between family members.
For parents today, it is extremely important to be able to communicate with their children. Many are making a conscious effort to befriend their kids.
Ms Priya Malshe, 40, a permanent resident who relocated to Singapore from Mumbai 10 years ago because of her husband's job, feels the times are changing. "We must all adjust and cope with new technology and trends to maintain rapport with our kids," says Ms Malshe. She makes a lot of effort, which is well reciprocated by her elder son Prateek, 17, a student at Global Indian International School (GIIS).
"On weekends I want to spend quality time with my son. Due to the age difference our interests may not match for sports activities like cricket or football. However, we do cycling, bowling and swimming together. I don't want him to compromise on his interests neither do I want to look dumb by playing something I am not good at. We find a few activities where we both feel comfortable and have fun at the same time."
Similarly for Mr Cijeesh Mani Jalaja, a permanent resident who is from Kerala, he shares a passion for football with his eight-year-old son Aryan, who is a student at GIIS.
"Whenever we get time, we both head out to play football. It is such a refreshing way to stay fit. We also enjoy bowling and hanging out at East Coast Park (ECP) as well," says the assistant vice-president of an IT company who also has a younger daughter. Aryan also has a hobby of collecting toy cars, which is well supported by his parents.
Aryan's mother, Bhavna, adds: "We want to encourage him to follow his passion. With our involvement he feels more confident." Gone are the days when parents were nothing more than a guiding source. The generation gap is a bridgeable chasm, feels permanent resident Vijayshree Langarkande, who is from Pune.
She says: "Lots of communication is the secret I found in bridging this gap. As we live in Singapore, away from our relatives it becomes even more important for parents to stay friends with their kids. I prefer going on long walks at ECP or having a cycle ride together with my daughter, so that we get our time to communicate. I find this a very refreshing way to gel with my teenage daughter."
Sharing a common interest
GIIS student Gautami Langarkande, 15, the eldest of three children, asserts: "Mother and me share a common interest that is shopping. Every weekend if it's not ECP then we both are all over the malls for shopping or window shopping. From trying different cuisines for lunch to all kinds of sales; we both love exploring new products. We find happiness in doing this and feel more connected."
The parent-offspring relationship has undergone a gradual but certain change. Adjustments have to be made by both sides.
For Ms Chandrika Haridasachar, who has made Singapore her home for more than 10 years after relocating from Bangalore, feels it was a challenging task for her to adjust to her daughter's love for pets.
"My 10-year-old daughter Shreya Kashyap loves spending time with pets but I am scared of them. We don't have a pet at home but in order to spend quality time together, I prepare special food for dogs on Fridays and gather for a block party for pets. We even attend pet carnivals together, which I find is a good learning experience for me as well," says Ms Haridasachar, 38, a senior software consultant.
With younger children it is easy to bridge the generation gap, but with grown-up kids it is nothing less than a challenge.
According to 54-year-old Singaporean G. Manimaran, who is originally from Tamil Nadu and runs a production company: "Both my kids are grown up. They hardly have time to spend with family. However with my wife, we do plan holidays together and go out for dinner sometimes. But when it comes to indulging in any recreational activities it becomes a task as the four of us in the family have very hectic schedules."
Supporting his thoughts, his 17-year-old daughter, junior college student Sonali Manimaran says: "We usually communicate during dinner. Besides this, when we do household chores together, we feel more connected."
'Gap cannot be bridged'
Echoing her views, her brother 21-year-old Kapilan Manimaran, who is waiting to enter college and has taken up a temporary job, says: "Mostly I don't spend too much time with my parents. Usually it's work or studies for me and they are equally busy.
"However, I sometimes cook with my mum or go to the ECP for a cycling trip. I think spending time together with small activities like this helps us to keep in touch with each other. These activities often include deep conversations. But addressing the issue of a generation gap has to go beyond spending quality time I believe.
"In an ever-changing, extremely dynamic society we live in, the set of rules that one generation grew up with will almost certainly not fit in with the next generation. However, reflection has to precede the aforementioned communication."
He adds: "I actually believe the gap cannot be entirely bridged, without destroying your personality or who you are. One would simply have to work harder to see across the gap, meaning, try to understand each other better rather than to forcefully try to bridge the gap, which would only end up being detrimental."