In a society with little or no value for the elderly, could we be missing something? Could it be that we are depriving our children of a very special connection with the elder generation? Studies have shown how children and seniors alike benefit from being with each other.
In many traditional societies, children have been raised in close collaboration with their grandmothers and grandfathers. Older people naturally want to contribute to the next generation; it gives them a sense of value and self-fulfilment. Nowadays, a lot of families live far away from their grandparents and this distance makes children to miss out on the exceptional relationship with the elderly. Children could benefit from elderly qualities such as age-related increments in wisdom, life experiences and emotional stability. But, what really are the benefits of intergenerational relationships?
- Children will have less fears with regards to the elderly: The generational gap is great and children sometimes find it difficult to interact with older people. Intergenerational care helps them learn this attribute while making them more confident in all social scenarios.
- Children begin to understand the concept of ageing: Being in close contact with elderly people helps them understand this natural process thereby making them more aware of their own development and of the process of life and death.
- Both generations will learn new skills: While children can learn respect towards adults in addition to good manners and wisdom, the elderly might start understanding our rapidly developing technological world better as well.
- Fill a void for children who do not have grandparents: releationships with elderly people can give children extra emotional support and care in the same way grandparents do. Being mature role models, children relate to them in a completely different way.
- It gives both the child and the adult a sense of purpose: In addition to the fact that it gives the older person a feeling of usefulness, it also helps the child to learn how to help the elderly sometimes.
As you can see, engaging children and seniors can offer benefits to everyone. You might wonder what kind of activities they can do together. Actually, the possibilities are endless.
- Learning arts and crafts: Many elders know how to knit, fish, bake, and crochet. They can teach these skills to the younger ones and have fun creating things together.
- Storytelling: Telling stories is a great way to build a connection between people. Older people can tell all kind of stories, fictitious and personal ones. Children can also tell their stories to the elderly bridging the gap between generations in this way.
- Gardening: This one if self explanatory. Which better person to teach gardening skills to the young than older people!.
- Teaching technology: The child can spend some time teaching the elder new technology which helps the child to gain some sense of responsibility and purpose.
- Cooking: Children can learn traditional ways of preparing simple and lovely meals.
Let’s try not to loose the beautiful connection between our children and the elderly. We can be sure that this connection will go a long way to increase the love and compassion of everyone involved.