By: Curious Theatre Company On: July 18, 2018 In: Curious & Curiouser Blog Comments: 0

by Chris Hale

How often have you found yourself thinking, “She’s just from a different generation” or “He doesn’t get it because he’s old/ young”? The divide between generations has lead to a chasm of understanding; with six generations alive in America today – more than any other time in our nation’s history – the communication gap is widening. While we see this at play in society at large, this is felt most acutely in our own homes, in our own families.

In The Humans, Stephen Karam tackles the challenges that emerge when children grow up and acquire their own understanding of the world, sometimes completely antithetical to the views instilled through their upbringing. The pressure placed upon Brigid to marry Richard comes straight from her mother who cannot fathom their decision to live together prior to marriage. A 2012 study conducted by the Pew Research Center found this generational difference to be substantial: compared to the Baby Boomer generation (44%), Millennials (23%) no longer see marriage as a rite of passage for young people.

Another generational difference Karam digs into is mental health awareness and support. With a platform to learn about and speak against the stigmas surrounding mental health, younger generations have grown up with a more nuanced understanding and care for those who struggle with mental illness in its variations. According to a 2017 research study completed at Georgia Southern University, there is a correlation between age and lack of access to education on mental health, leading to this barrier between generations. When Bridgid shares that she struggles with mental illness, her father fails to see the importance of the therapy she pursues, encouraging her to simply pray more on the issue.

These types of generational gaps in communication and understanding are further compounded as families live together once again at the end of life. As life expectancies increase and financial stability for retirement decreases, more Americans find themselves as caregivers for their parents. According to a 2012 survey from PulteGroup, 32% of adult children expect to eventually share their home with a parent.

Despite these challenges, the strength of familial bonds persists both in The Humans and in life. The Blake family highlights the differences that span its members all while celebrating the primal bond of family.