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During this period the adolescents strive to strike a balance between their innate personalities moulded by nature and nurture and outside dictates that demand conformity as a price for acceptance.It is this struggle within, coupled with a very strong desire for acceptance without, that prompts an outward show of ‘courage and defiance’. Lawrence has said, “We have to hate our immediate predecessors to get free of their authority.” With the onset of adulthood and maturity much of the restlessness and rebellion mellows and the individual learns to appreciate the need for both stability and change.The generation gap, to begin with, is hardly evident in relations, whether between two individuals or between an individual and society where one individual is below the age of five.
Parents or guardians of society symbolise restrictions and discipline and in the attempt to establish individuality and independence there is an urge to break free of what seems the shackles of discipline. On the other hand, the older contenders, who were earlier overzealous in their aspirations to rear a perfect individual, too, have aged and become increasingly aware of their own mortality.
They learn to lower their defences and the friction eases considerably.
These influences do, of course, work on humankind but they have the greatest impact on that section of society which is on the threshold of discovery-discovery of the self, of life and of living.
For someone who has already measured swords with life a characteristic lifestyle is already in place.
It is at a more social stage, when peer group pressures begin to exert their influence on the individual, so much so that he or she develops a feeling of belonging to one generation as opposed to another, that the generation gap takes root.
Peer group pressure plays a major role in determining attitudes, values, likes and dislikes, even speech, appearance and behaviour.
The generation gap is another of those characteristic features that set Homo sapiens apart from other animals.
It is doubtful if ever the most intelligent of apes ever blamed its juniors for their wayward ways!
In essence, therefore, the generation gap is a tug-o’war of change versus stability, new versus old, modern versus traditional.
It does not have to become (and this is Important) a tug-o’-war of age versus youth.