I grew up in a typical Immigrant Bengali family where we spoke Bengali (Sylheti dialect), ate white rice and curry, watched Bengali natoks and had large family gatherings during which I wore traditional Bengali attire. What’s more, if I ever misbehaved, all my parents had to do was give me “the eye” and I got the hint. If I ever asked for permission to do something and they decided against it, I accepted it. As I got older, sure, I fought against them to gain more freedom, but it almost never worked. Basically, I was taught to obey my parents and that to obey them meant to respect them.
Now, as a parent myself, things could not be more different! It’s not because I am rebelling against my parents by living a different sort of lifestyle; that could partly have something to do with it, but it’s because my kids rebel against me. It’s natural; they get upset when we say “No” to something and they want to know “Why?!” thereby forcing us, parents, to come up with a logical enough explanation that would be considered “acceptable” in our kids’ opinions. Oh man, we need to be careful. Our kids can be the boss of us; they will use googly eyes, suck up to us and even negotiate to get what they want: “If I do this, will you let me do that,” for example.
Heck, I give my kids “the eye” and they give it right back, sometimes accompanied by a sharp tongue or if a toddler, a tantrum. The key to Generation Alpha showing us, Millennials, any respect, is to treat them with respect. Mind you, I don’t mean treat them as our “equals” because kids will be kids and they need to understand that there are consequences for their actions! What I mean is, we need to involve our children in some decision-making. For example, “What should we have for dinner tonight?” on weekends or “What do you guys think of this house? Can you see yourself in this bedroom?” when house-hunting. When I was younger, my parents just told me that it was time to move and we moved; I never saw the house beforehand or knew exactly when we were moving until a few days before. It was hard on me. I can’t do that with my kids; I feel like I need to take into consideration that they love their schools, their friends and their neighborhood. Kids need stability to thrive and when there is change in their lives, they need time to adjust to it in order to accept it.
Therefore, communication keeps our children open with us and shows them that we care about what they think and how they feel. In return, we can only hope that we gain their respect enough that when we say “No” to something, they will accept it…eventually (they will probably still fight against it).