Generational Gaps in Multigenerational Families

multigenerational family

Generational gaps within multigenerational families can create a complex dynamic that can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. However, it can also provide opportunities for growth and learning. 

A generational gap in families refers to a situation where the older and younger generations of people don’t understand each other due to their different experiences, opinions, habits, and behaviors. 

An example is when a family consisting of grandparents, parents, and children live together in the same household. The grandparents grew up in a culture where respect for elders was highly valued and children were expected to follow strict rules and protocols. They expect the same level of respect and obedience from their grandchildren. 

However, the parents of the children were raised in a more liberal culture where children were encouraged to express themselves and question authority. They believe in parenting through communication and compromise. The grandparents find the children’s behavior disrespectful and the parents find the grandparents’ expectations too rigid. This leads to conflicts and misunderstandings between the different generations, causing a gap in values and beliefs.

In this article, you will learn to recognize the generational gap phenomena in a multigenerational family. You can find the description of each generation, and examples of how they can affect family dynamics. Ultimately, you will also learn how to bridge the generational gap that exists in the family.

Distinguishing the generations

In this part of the article, we will take a closer look at various generations that have ever existed along with their characteristics and values, which can help to understand the generational gap. 

Greatest Generation

The Greatest Generation refers to a group of people who grew up during the Great Depression, then fought in World War II, or even those whose labor contributed to it. 

The “Greatest Generation” is a term that was popularized by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation of Americans who were born between 1901 and 1924 and came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. 

This generation is known for its strong work ethic, sacrifice, and patriotism. They were raised during a time of economic hardship and political turmoil, and many of them served in World War II. They were also known for their strong sense of community and family values. They were known to have a strong sense of duty and sacrifice and a willingness to work hard to achieve their goals. Many of them also had a strong sense of humility and a belief in the value of hard work.

Silent Generation

The “Silent Generation“, a term that was coined in November 15, 1951 on the cover of TIME Magazine, was used to describe the generation of Americans who were born between 1925 and 1945 and came of age during the post-World War II era. 

This generation is known for being relatively conservative, conformist, and pragmatic. They grew up during a time of relative prosperity and stability, and many of them experienced the benefits of the post-war economic boom. They were also known for their strong sense of duty, responsibility, and respect for authority. They were often called the Silent Generation because they were seen as being less vocal and more reserved than the generations that preceded and followed them. They were also known for their work ethic, and many of them were among the first to attend college in large numbers.

Baby Boomers

“Baby Boomers” is a term that refers to a demographic who was born between 1946 to 1964. They are currently known as the largest generation in history, which also grew up with television. 

Baby Boomers are known to be workers with strong ethics, optimism, and a desire for social change. Baby Boomers played a significant role in a lot of movements, such as the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the anti-war movement. Lastly, they also experienced the benefits of the post-war economic boom.

Generation X

“Generation X” is a demographic born between the mid-1960s and early-1980s. Even though the internet was invented by the Baby Boomers, Generation X was the one who grew up and made it part of their daily life. 

They are also known for being the generation that is more independent, self-reliant, and skeptical than their predecessor, the Baby Boomers. They are often considered the “middle child” between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. They were raised during a time of increasing economic uncertainty and social change. They are also known for being more diverse and multicultural than previous generations.


The “Millennials”, also known as Generation Y, are a demographic born between 1981 and 1996

They are known for being the first generation to grow up with social media. They are also known for being more socially and politically aware than previous generations. They are often considered Digital Natives, the ones who grew up in the presence of digital technology or in the informative age. They are known for being more diverse and multicultural than previous generations. They are also known for being more individualistic, and for being more open to social and cultural change than previous generations.

Generation Z

“Generation Z” is a demographic born between 1997 and 2012. They are known for being the first generation to grow up with smartphones and social media. They are known for being more politically and socially aware than previous generations. While Millennials are known as Digital Natives, Generation Z is known as Digital Junkies. They are also known for being highly collaborative, self-reliant, and pragmatic.

Examples of generation gap

Let’s look at some of the specific examples of a generational gap that could happen in a family. We will examine situations in which different generations have different values, beliefs, or habits that could lead to misunderstanding and conflicts. By understanding the specific examples of a generational gap, we can better understand the challenges and opportunities that come with a multigenerational family.


Slang is a term that refers to a very informal language that belongs to a certain group of people and is usually spoken, rather than written. This can manifest in a generation gap when a teenager in the family is using slang that their parents or grandparents don’t understand or vice versa. Due to this, the older generation may feel disconnected or out of touch with the younger generation’s way of communicating.

Technological generation gap

Technological generation gaps exist because of the massive development of technology. The younger generation accepts this with open hands as it helps them and makes it easier to access everything through the internet. But the older generation is struggling based on their lack of ability and general interest in this wave of technology. 

One prime example of this is when a teenager spends most of their time on their phone or computer, while their parents or grandparents may not be as familiar with or interested in technology. This can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings as the older generation may see the younger generation’s use of technology as excessive or a waste of time.

Generational wealth gap

A generational wealth gap is a term used to describe the disparity between the amount of wealth and assets between generations in a certain society. An example is when the Baby Boomer generation has better access to higher-paying jobs, affordable housing, and pension plans than the Millennials, which leads to a wealth gap between those two generations. This gap could actually bring a lot of impacts, such as in lifestyle and mental health in certain families.

Attitudes toward work

Attitudes toward work can also vary between generations. For example, Baby Boomers are loyal to their employer, while Generation X has loyalty to their profession. 

On the other hand, Millennials are loyal to their career and to themselves. Another research also shows that Generation Y (Millennials) have different views on their job, compared to their predecessors. It’s found that Millennials are more likely to be planning to quit their jobs, and are more likely to switch their jobs for no particular reason. This different view towards work could actually bring conflict and misunderstanding in the family, such as the older generation may see that the younger generation is lazy and entitled, while the younger generation sees that the older generation is out of touch.

Bridging the generational gap

There are a couple of things that a family could do to bridge the gap between generations. Some things are easier to do, such as communication. Family members must become someone who is able to, not only talk, but also listen. A good parent is not someone who is able to teach their children to be better people, but must also be able to listen to their kids while they’re talking without interrupting them. 

Another thing that a family could do to bridge this generational gap is to spend time with their family. Watch your favorite TV shows together, have dinner together, or even go to the movies together. Simple things such as communicating better and spending quality time together could actually give long-term benefits to your family.

In conclusion

Understanding and bridging the generational gap in multigenerational families is crucial to maintaining a healthy and harmonious relationship. Generational gaps can arise due to a lot of different reasons. It’s important to acknowledge that each generation has something valuable to contribute and to respect their perspectives and values. 

The key to bridging the gap is open and honest communication, understanding, empathy, compromise, education, shared experiences, and even spending quality time together. By understanding and valuing the diversity of each generation, families can create a positive and inclusive environment that allows for growth and learning. 

It’s also important to recognize that bridging a gap takes time and effort and that it’s a continuous process that requires patience and willingness from all parties involved. By actively working to bridge the gap, families can create a strong bond that will last for generations to come.

If you would like to know more about extended family relationships, check out Family Science Labs. The lab produces courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other learning materials using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science. Visit the Family Science Labs today.

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