Points of Differences Between the Two Generations

In order to reach a common understanding and a sound atmosphere of respect, love and cooperation, we -as parents and children- must understand the main point of difference and disagreement between the two genera-tions, for each generation to understand the culture of the other. But not to contradict or to deprive it or to play with it, rather it is to understand the point of natural differences of every stage of life.

Some researchers have mentioned various differences, among them are:

  • Youth always moves toward new things, whereas elders oppose new things holding the older ones dear. - Youth have the revolutionary spirit full of courage and force, whereas the elders have the spirit of imitation, that is, they are hardliners.
  • Most of the time, youths are imaginary and theoretical, and elders - naturally- believe in the practical.
  • Youths -most of the time - are emotional, but elders -generally- believe in seriousness and trial.
  • Youths are hasty while elders are slow.
  • Youths deeply think of their future, while elders always think about their past.
  • Youths -many a times- have little experience, while elders' experiences -naturally- are many.
  • Youths always try to make the condition march with them, but the elders march to the condition.

All these differences are not final, however, and it is not only for a certain generation and not another. You may find a slow young fellow and a fast elderly one, as you may find an old man who is ambitious and a young man who is not, thus, the issue is related to how a person was brought up and the kind of education he acquired. It is a difference that can be seen generally or individually.

One of the most important things in understanding these natural differences is that it helps in reducing the power of accusation towards each other.

As it is the duty of the elders to respect the love of the youth toward new things, likewise the youth, also, must respect the love of the elders toward old things. Because this is natural, being that there is no generality in favoring new things over the old ones, or favoring the old one over the new, both have a positive, as well as, negative side. It is the intellect of both the youth and the older ones that determine things.

Understanding these differences requires the understanding of the psychological condition of both generations. Youth are fast because their blood circulates fast in the body; they want to reach their destination fast. Maybe they may think of following the steps; and this order is not always negative and not always positive. Some stages need fast and hasty conditions, especially if there is will and spirit of reality and capability, as the case may be in some learning stages.

But jumping the gum without thinking of the end result sometimes brings about accident and danger.

However, an old father may live quietly and with patience, and this situation may not be due to his physical or health condition, rather it may be because of the experiences he has had. It might be due to his understanding that it is possible to perceive some ambition, but it must be based on giving the most important issue its due respect first, followed by the others.

There is no harm in the haste of the youth except in skipping steps of the proverbial ladder, as the slow movement of the older ones is not harmful, especially if it is asceticism against the ambitious part of the world life. Therefore, both generations must reach a conclusion that there is good and evil in all stages of life, and, also, generations are growing. Life requires both the generation of youth and the generation of the elders, because nature has made it a law as 'hot' and 'cold' stay in one place in an electrical current so that we have light.

A researcher in the field of education conducted a discussion on the comparison between the roots of a tree and its branches, referring to the parents and grandparents as roots and the children and grandchildren as branches. In the beginning of the discussion he shows the adhesive of the roots with their values and the dependency of the branches.

Among the criticisms meted out to the roots, by the branches is that they are living under the ground and inside darkness, whereas they (the branches) are living in light and fresh air. The wise answer of the roots to the branches is that their food comes from them (the roots), as the roots also remain alive due to the sunlight and fresh air they get from the branches. They are the increasing and decreasing sap; the tree can never live without them.

So this is how the tree of life is. It can never stay and remain alive unless with parents and grandparents on one side, and the children and grandchildren on the other. If this cooperation between the two generations continues, the youth will be able to overcome most of their problems related to their stage, and, likewise, the parents will have use of the fresh blood in the youth's vein to move forward.

Parents and Educational Affairs of Children

Due to their utmost concern about the future of their children, the parents always ask and encourage them to give more effort towards their lessons. This is a good approach and it shows a real concern to the interest of the student (a boy or a girl).

But, what happens in most houses is insistence -at a right or wrong time - on reading and revising, most especially at the time of examinations and tests. Sometimes, parents forget that the student has his own spiritual condition that may not encourage him to read. And maybe the environmental condition is not suitable for him due to noises of children or due to visitors, or because of the smallness of the house, or other conditions of disturbance in the house.

In such a situation, the problems can be solved through the following:

  • Some family cannot change their house to a better one due to their financial condition, but they can change their daily programs, or restrict them during the time of examinations.

  • Remembering negative results due to negligence and laziness will force the youth to take a glance at his self, and remembering positive results, due to revision and planning for the future, will encourage him to work harder.

  • A problem of the student may be due to the scheduling he did for his studies, Here, it is possible to guide him with the experiences of the parents or others in the field of studies. For example, guiding him to write and summarize his lessons, or writing for him some explanations, presented in class by the teacher, in his book. Perhaps he could ask his fellow classmate, whose grades are higher than his, to explain some topics to him, or allow someone to ask him questions in order to check his understanding of the topic, etc.

Here, the issue arises again of giving too much concern to hobbies and their opposition to the lessons. The position of most parents, towards the hobbies of their children, is negative. This is because they are regarding hobbies, whatever their value might be, as a waste of time. They are thinking that the time given to them must be given to lessons and revisions.

However, the fact is that we must find a solution to the rivalry between lessons and hobbies, in order to stop any negative results that occur by delaying what we are not to delay and presenting what we are not suppose to present. In addition, we must find a correct method of dealing with those who were left behind in their lessons due to their hobbies. This can be done by emphasizing that the next holiday will be enough time for him to exercise his hobbies freely and that everything is done in order to help him to achieve, or by explaining to him that hobbies can be left behind till another time, but lessons can never be delayed till another time.

This method can make a student to rethink his position, but the opposite is the case when the parents hide the tools of his hobbies or destroy them, which will cause him to have a greater attachment to those things, because "man is desirous of what is prohibited to him". Thus, one of the reasons for a student's reluctance in his lessons is the constraint meted out to him, causing him a spiritual unnerving.

Family's Council:

We will discuss the solution to the problems arising between the parents and their children, because it is clear to us that there are many ways of mutual understanding between the two parties; we have mentioned some of them in the previous pages. Here, we will bring a plan for mutual understanding and cooperation, leaving each family to test it based on the nature of its members.

What if we arrange for a "Family Council" in the house?

There is not much problem in this, like the problems that occur in the national assemblies…it is enough just to have a consensus that a weekly or monthly meeting between all the members of the family be conducted.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "A boy is a leader for seven years, a slave for seven years and a minister (adviser) for seven years". Our main concern in this narration is the last part of it, that is: "a minister for seven years", that is there is a situation in the life of a youth that he may become an adviser to his parents.

He will be advising them and presenting his own opinion on a particular issue. He has the right to bring forth his opinion -whether it is right or wrong - and they must respect his opinion in both instances, to praise him when he is right and correct him when he is wrong. But some words like "Obey before arguing' or "Obey, don't complain", is dictatorship, which will make the youth oppose.

There is no doubt that the most important source of harmony and mutual understanding is respecting opinions from every member of the family. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has said: "The heart is attracted to who does good to it, and hates who does evil to it", and he also said: "If you all gather together on good things, surely you will be loved."

Indeed, there is nothing more effective than educating children and giving them the right to forward their opinion and respecting their personality. This is what the Prophet's word "minister" means, which encourages the social activities that will boost the morals of the youth and raise them from the stage of a small boy to the stage of a full grown individual, capable of having a positive approach.

It is possible to arrange for a suitable method for every family. The family council should be an open council for discussing family affairs. Those who run the affairs of such council can be chosen by selection or election, so as to follow the issues presented during any one of the meetings. We cannot talk much on the method, but the main aim of any method selected must be to push the family forward and to achieve a mutual understanding and cooperation between members of the family. In the meeting, the opinions of the parents and children must be brought to the table for discussion in order to select the most important ones without any partiality or favoring of one side.

One of the most important issues here is that the purity of self and heart of the children which might help in a great way in family affairs, that might even be hiding in the hearts of the elders.

But what can be achieved in such a council, are as follows:

1- The family will change from a small gathering of individuals to a state where different people will be bringing their own opinions and experiences.

2- Achieving a considerable extent of the feeling of collective and cooperative responsi-bility, and every one's slogan should be "the administering of the house and its happiness our responsibility, altogether."

3- The process of distributing work and responsibilities among the members will be easier and accepted by all who feel the responsibility on their shoulders.

4- The discussion, debate and respect for others opinion is a process of preparing a better future for the family and the generations to come, who will copy the method and solve their problems, and may use it also to train their children.

5- One of the main jobs of the council is to fight separation, backbiting and unnecessary accusation, rather there must be understanding and cooperation between the members.

Even though some will think that the plan is an easy one, it is a plan that requires sufficient time in order to achieve the goal. It also requires a suitable condition. The father (or head of the family), as the head of the meeting, must have the following features:

1- He must have the capability of favoring the more important issues above the less important ones.

2- He must be acquainted with the present development and conditions, because he is dealing with a new generation created for a time not his own. And he must have the capability of convincing others on issues related to them.

3- He must be well versed in the law and the limits that differentiate between lawful and unlawful matters.

4- He must be open and ready to accept all opinions, even those that can be regarded as unfair and unreasonable, and he must debate with other members of the family in a good way and manner. He must give advice to those who needs it, and he must know how to separate disputes between others.

5- He must have a good relationship with all and he must not be dictatorial as the head of the meeting. He must give the right to talk to everyone in the meeting, and give the right to reply or defend of one's own opinion or against an accusation directed to him. And, likewise, he should exercise calm and respect. All these are some of the sources of success for the family.

Another issue that ought to be given much consideration is the secrecy of the meeting; the secrecy of the meeting must not be taken out to others. It is unlawful to bring out the issues that are termed internal issues of the family, especially if the issues concern one of the known members of the family which the hearing of this by others may harm his feelings.

In short, the most important things that can be achieved are developing the family and obtaining a mutual understanding between its members, solving their problems and paving the way for a good and sound future.


In conclusion, we will bring two real testimonies: The first one is of a father who deal with his children in a wise manner, and the other of a son narrating the method used by his father in dealing with him and his other brothers and sisters. This is to show that what we have discussed is not something theoretical. We hope both the parents and the children will be able to benefit from the experiences of others.

Testimony of a Father:

"I tried to be honest with them…I tried not to enforce myself on everyone of my children…whenever I witnessed a mistake from one of them I didn't call his attention to it in a harsh manner or by beating, rather with a soft voice that could not harm them.

I wanted them to live their lives…I helped them in choosing their way of life…I used to leave them free in their work, without interfering in their work; in order to utilize from their mistakes, I tried to talk with them in a positive not negative sense.

I tried, most of the time to educate them in an open way based on their ability; not above their capability…I lived with them and I am still living with them like a friend…I obtained their confidence by this relation, I am living, in my house, with love and affection for my small and big children who discuss with me without any hesitation; I tried to remove any block between me and them.

I am thinking that a father must know the secrets of his children, but not to go and relate them to others…he should open a way for them to be his friends."

Testimony of a Son:

"My father is my friend, guide and pacesetter in this world…he acts in a way where the friendship will continue. Whenever I have a problem in my studies or work, he will tell me: "We should be friends…open your heart to me so we can solve the problem together, to think about the solution," he never tries to impose himself on me…he avoids telling me: "I want this from you, or you must do this, he always paves a way for freedom to all of us to choose whatever we deem good, but it must be under the limits of the lawful and unlawful….if we did something unlawful, he acts decisively …he monitors us from a distance in order not to create bad conditions in our morals; he doesn't force himself on us even while talking…

There is no duality between inside and outside…whatever he says outside he practices it inside… He doesn't direct my future more than the choice and capability that he has given me… He teaches us to be more ambitious and to attend that which he has attended; he teaches us hope to be perfect and reach where he didn't reach."

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.