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THE DISAPPEARING GENERATION GAP

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									Passage 1


THE DISAPPEARING
GENERATION GAP
Parents and kids today dress alike, listen to the same music, and are friends. Is this a
good thing?
By Marilyn Gardner | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Sometimes, when Tom Krattenmaker and his 16-year-old daughter, Holland, listen to rock
music together and talk about pop culture – interests they both enjoy – he recalls his
more-distant relationship with his parents when he was a teenager.

"I would never [have said] to my mom, 'Hey, the new Weezer album is really great –
how do you like it?' " says Mr. Krattenmaker, of Yardley, Pa. "There was just a
complete gap in sensibility and taste, a virtual gulf."
Music was not the only gulf. From clothing and hairstyles to activities and
expectations, earlier generations of parents and children often appeared to revolve in
separate orbits.

Today, the generation gap has not disappeared, but it is shrinking in many families.
The old authoritarian approach to discipline – a starchy "Because I said so, that's why"
– is giving way to a new egalitarianism and a "Come, let us reason together" attitude.

The result can be a rewarding closeness among family members. Conversations that
would not have taken place a generation ago – or that would have been awkward, on
subjects such as sex and drugs – now are comfortable and common. And parent-child
activities, from shopping to sports, involve an easy camaraderie that can continue into
adulthood.

No wonder greeting cards today carry the message, "To my mother, my best friend."

But family experts caution that the new equality can also have a downside,
diminishing respect for parents.

"There's still a lot of strict, authoritarian parenting out there, but there is a change
happening," says Kerrie Laguna, a mother of two young children and a psychology
professor at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. "In the middle of that change,
there is a lot of confusion among parents."

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Family researchers offer a variety of reasons for these evolving roles and attitudes.
They see the 1960s as a benchmark. Dramatic cultural shifts led to more open
communication and a more democratic process that encourages everyone to have a
say.

 "My parents were on the 'before' side of that shift, whereas today's parents, the
40-somethings, were on the 'after' side," explains Krattenmaker, news director at
Swarthmore College. "It's much easier for 40-somethings and today's teenagers to
relate to one another. It's not a total cakewalk for parents these days, because life is
more complicated, but [sharing interests] does make it more fun to be a parent now."

Part I

"Fun" is, in fact, a word heard far more frequently in families today than in the past,
when "duty" and "responsibility" were often operative words.

Parents today are more youthful in appearance and attitudes. From bluejeans to
blow-drys, their clothes and hairstyles are more casual, helping to bridge the sartorial
divide. Those who are athletically inclined also enjoy Rollerblading, snowboarding,
and rock-climbing with their offspring.

For the past three years, Kathy and Phil Dalby of Arnold, Md., have spent at least one
evening a week, and sometimes two, at a climbing gym with their three children. "It's
great to be able to work together," Mrs. Dalby says. "We discuss various climbs and
where the hard parts are. Sometimes that leads to other conversations, and
sometimes it doesn't. We're definitely closer."

A popular movement with roots in the 1970s, parent effectiveness training, has helped
to reshape generational roles. The philosophy encourages children to describe their
feelings about various situations. As a result, says Robert Billingham, a family-studies
professor at Indiana University, "Parents and children began talking to each other in
ways they had not before."

On the plus side, he adds, these conversations made parents realize that children
may have important thoughts or feelings that adults need to be aware of.

But Professor Billingham also sees a downside: Many parents started making
decisions based on what their child wanted. "The power shifted to children. Parents

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said, 'I have to focus on making my child happy,' as opposed to 'I have to parent most
appropriately.' "

Other changes are occurring as the ranks of working mothers grow. An increase in
guilt on the part of busy parents makes them less eager to spend time disciplining,
says Dr. Laguna of Lebanon Valley College.

Time-short parents also encourage children's independence, making them more
responsible for themselves. "They'll say, 'We trust you to make the right decisions'
[whether they're ready to assume the responsibility or not]," says Billingham.

The self-esteem movement of the past quarter-century has also affected family
dynamics. Some parents worry that if they tell their child no, or impose limits, it will
hurt the child's self-esteem.

Yet, parents who don't set rules risk becoming "so powerless in their own homes that
they feel out of control and sometimes afraid," cautions Dennis Lowe, director of the
Center for the Family at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

He believes that parents – in their eagerness to keep the peace and avoid arguments
– miss an opportunity to teach children how to resolve conflicts, rather than simply
avoiding them.

Although sensitive and democratic parenting has its advantages, Laguna expresses
concern about "almost epidemic numbers" of children who have few boundaries or
expectations.

Dr. Lowe and his wife, Emily, try to maintain structure and boundaries by taking a
traditional approach with their children, ages 10 and 14. They also strive for a united
front. Challenges arise, he says, when one parent wants an egalitarian relationship
with a child, while the other parent wants to set limits.

"Probably the democratic approach is not bad in and of itself," Lowe says. "It's when it
swings so far that it promotes lack of rules and structure and discipline for children.
Problems also arise when it promotes overindulgence, sometimes in an effort to avoid
'harming' the relationship, rather than teaching children moderation and the limits of
life."



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Overindulgence, Lowe says, can actually be a sign of neglect – neglecting values,
neglecting teaching opportunities, and neglecting the relationship. To be successful,
people need an appreciation for rules and limits.

To give their own children that appreciation, the Lowes discuss everything from the
kind of movies the children can watch to what is realistic financially.

Lowe sees some parents trying to cultivate friendship with their children even at very
early ages. And he knows families where children call parents by their first names.
"Rather than 'Mom' or 'Dad,' you have a 7-year-old saying, 'Hey, Gary,' " he explains,
adding that a lack of respect for parents could carry over into relationships with
teachers, bosses, and others in positions of authority.




Part II

Still, encouraging signs exist. Vern Bengtson, who has studied generational changes
as coauthor of a forthcoming book, "How Families Still Matter," finds a greater
tolerance for divergence between generations today than in the past.

"Because of my own rebellion in the '60s, and because of the way I grew out of it, I
can better accept my son's desire for independence and the crazy and sometimes
rebellious things that he does," says Professor Bengtson of the University of Southern
California, Los Angeles. "Based on my experience, he, too, will grow out of it."

As Dalby, the rock-climbing mom, looks around at friends and acquaintances, she is
heartened to find that many people are far more open with the things they talk about
with children. "There are a lot more dangers out there now. It's better to address them
yourselves, because somebody will."

Where do families go from here?

"Parents have to be careful not to totally be their kid's buddy, because they still have
to be the authoritarian and disciplinarian," Krattenmaker says.

For her part, Laguna would like to see role distinctions that illustrate clearly who the
adults are.



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"I don't think we're swinging back to the 'good old days,' when parents ruled and
children kept their mouth[s] shut," Billingham says. "We're swinging toward a balance,
where parents once again are viewed as parents, and not as peers to their children.
Children are being viewed as very loved and valued family members, but without the
power or authority of the parents.

"If we can get this balance, where parents are not afraid to be parents, and parents
and children put the family as their priority, we'll be in great shape. I'm very optimistic
about the future."




I. Read the following statements and decide whether they are True or False.

    1. The egalitarianism attitude results in a closeness among family members.

    2. Conversations on subjects such as sex and drugs between parents and
        children are acceptable in the past.

    3. The effectiveness training makes parents realize that they need to make
        decisions on what their child wants.

    4. Today parents are eager to spend time disciplining although they are busy.

    5. Parents lose the chance to teach children how to resolve conflicts for the sake
        of keeping the peace in the family.

    6. Sensitive and democratic parenting has its advantages as well as
        disadvantages.

    7. Calling parents by their first names is encouraged by Lowe.

    8. We should strike a balance in the family where parents’ role and children’s
        are distinctive.

II. Give a subtitle to Part I and Part II respectively.




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Passage 2


Generation Gap? 'Online Gap' Widens Divide Between

Parents and Children
A new Tel Aviv University research study has found that, despite what parents might believe,
there is an enormous gap between what they think their children are doing online and what is
really happening.
In her study, Prof. Dafna Lemish from the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University
surveyed parents and their children about the children's activities on the Internet. "The data tell
us that parents don't know what their kids are doing," says Prof. Lemish. Her study was unique
in that parents and children from the same family were surveyed.
Strange Encounters
In one part of the study, Prof. Lemish surveyed over 500 Jewish and Arab children from a
variety of ages and socio-economic backgrounds, asking them if they gave out personal
information online. Seventy-three percent said that they do. The parents of the same children
believed that only 4 percent of their children did so.
The same children were also asked if they had been exposed to pornography while surfing, or
if they had made face-to-face contact with strangers that they had met online. Thirty-six
percent from the high school group admitted to meeting with a stranger they had met online.
Nearly 40% of these children admitted to speaking with strangers regularly (within the past
week).
Fewer than 9 percent of the parents knew that their children had been meeting with strangers,
engaging in what could be viewed as very risky behavior. Prof. Lemish suspects that this gap
is wider in the U.S., where children from middle-class backgrounds have more opportunity to
surf online privately.
Erasing their Tracks
In another part of the study, Prof. Lemish found that 30 percent of children between the ages
of 9 and 18 delete the search history from their browsers in an attempt to protect their privacy
from their parents. She suggests that common filtering software may not be effective, since
children will access what they are looking for elsewhere -- at a friend's house, an Internet café,
or school. And if the child accesses dangerous material outside of the home, they will be
unprepared and uninformed when it happens, she says.
Prof. Lemish believes that one problem is that parents are not as media-literate as they could
be. They don't have a handle on using popular online software and chat programs, and tend to
have no clue about what is really happening online.
But she cautions, "This lack of knowledge on the parents' part may be no different than the
situation before the advent of the Web. Parents don't know what their children are doing on the
Net, in the same manner that they don't know what goes on at class, parties, or clubs."
Avoiding Dangers
Prof. Lemish advises that parents should give their children the tools to be literate Internet
users, and to navigate around any potential dangers. Most importantly, parents need to talk to




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their children. "The child needs similar tools that teach them to be weary of dangers in the park,
the mall or wherever. The same rules in the real world apply online as well.
"For example, under no circumstances, should a child ever give strangers their private
information over the Internet, or meet unsupervised with strangers. Children should be
encouraged to tell their parents about Internet encounters that make them uncomfortable. It's
just common sense and parents need to teach them that. Talking with your children regularly is
important."
At the same time, she stresses, parents should not disregard the advantages of the Internet:
"We tend to forget that it offers our children a source of independence, a way to explore the
world, and helps them meet friends whom they could not meet in their real world. As parents,
we need to help them explore the positive opportunities the Internet offers them, and to reduce
the risks."




Writing assignment:

Does online surfing widen the gap between parents and children? Brainstorm
arguments/examples/quotes etc. in support of your viewpoint and write an essay on
the topic in no less than 150 words.




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