September is Intergeneration Month. We all know there is a
wealth of knowledge to be gained from someone with different experiences from
ours. Whether it be someone of a different culture, race or sexual orientation,
by simply talking with someone, their experiences can help us to understand a
multitude of things we otherwise couldn’t fathom.
The same goes for people of a different generation. Our
society changes fast, and the generation gap is very real. But we can close that
gap through honest communication and taking a genuine interest. The biggest
ways you can do this are:
at an assisted living or senior center – Not only is this an area in which
volunteers are greatly appreciated, but they are also dearly needed. Seniors
can lead a very lonely life, and you can brighten their day just by visiting
them, giving them the chance to tell their story, and to show them their
opinions are vital to what is going on in the world.
better, ask a senior to give a talk about their life, in a classroom – They
may not like the spotlight to be on them. If they are anything like my
grandparents, they may give you that whole “why would anyone want to hear my
story?” bit. But that can be worked through, and a great deal of good can come
part in your local Big Brother/Big Sister program – Everyone needs a
mentor. By becoming one, you will provide a young person with a positive
influence that may be missing in their life. But this, too, is a two-way
street. Big Brothers and Big Sisters have the unique opportunity to really talk
to kids with their guard down, without the expectations of a parent-child
relationship. In this way you can really learn something about the younger
generation, leaving them free to express who they are, too.
about your family’s past – Genealogy is and ever will be a tie that binds
generations together, including those that are no longer with us. If you do
some research into your family tree, you very well may find information on an
ancestor whom you find you instantly identify with because of their interests,
their job, even their personality if you are so lucky as to have access to
letters they wrote. And if you can find that connection, then connecting to
your living relatives of different generations should be easy.
- Host an
intergenerational mixer – This is not something that happens very often.
Not with the expressed intent of getting people of different generations to
talk, anyway. But it can be as simple as hosting an impromptu mini family
- Call your
grandma/nephew/aunt/grandson – When is the last time you called them? You’d
be surprised the conversations that unfold organically when you call someone
purely for the heck of it.
Surely you can think of many more ways to honor those from
the generations that came before you, or to build a bridge to those who came