Intergenerational friendships can enrich your life. If all your friends are just like you, you may want to start reaching out to those who are older or younger.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” ― C.S. Lewis
Take a second look at the grandmother who lives next door or the young man who rides the bus with you. You may have more in common than you think.
Find your next new friend in an unexpected place. There are so many benefits to be gotten from intergenerational relationships.
Benefits of Intergenerational Friendship for Younger People
1. Receive mentoring. Children thrive on attention and love. A caring adult can help kids feel special and do better in school.
2. Learn from experience. You may be able to make smarter decisions by watching how things turn out for others in similar situations. Visiting the gym regularly and eating healthier could protect you from heart conditions and obesity.
3. Accept the aging process. Many people are apprehensive about growing old. Talking with someone who is comfortable with their grey hair may relieve your doubts.
4. Carry on traditions. Even if you love listening to Taylor Swift, discovering Nat King Cole could be a thrill. You may unearth all kinds of treasures when you explore what your elders do in their free time.
Benefits of Intergenerational Friendships for Older People
1. Boost your energy levels. Older people often say they enjoy greater energy and enthusiasm when they’re with younger companions. Play with your grandchildren or volunteer at an after-school program.
2. Stay up to date. Are you wondering if your winter coat looks dated or struggling to figure out the buttons on the remote control? A few minutes with someone under 20 could set you straight.
3. Deepen your sense of purpose. In your golden years, it’s common to spend more time contemplating the meaning of life. Exposure to a wide range of people gives you more food for thought.
4. Feel more connected. It’s easy to become isolated as we age. Loved ones pass away. Health issues and fixed incomes may force you to move out of your familiar neighborhood. Forging new ties can help you stay engaged and active.
How to Cultivate Intergenerational Friendships
1. Dispel stereotypes. The key to intergenerational friendships is to accept others. Forget about seniors being grumpy or teenagers being inconsiderate. Be open to seeing the good in everyone.
2. Communicate over long distances. Stay in touch by phone or text when you’re unable to get together face-to-face.
3. Wield your parental influence. Interacting with seniors prepares children for healthy relationships later in life. Spend long weekends together or schedule a weekly Skype call.
4. Evaluate advertising. Once upon a time everyone watched the same TV shows. Now niche marketing has segmented the audience. Visit websites your kids or parents recommend. You may come away with a better understanding of them.
5. Set reasonable expectations. Age gaps can make bonding more challenging. Be patient with each other. You may need to explain what a social media manager does if someone over 65 asks about your job.
6. Share activities. Fortunately, there are plenty of enriching activities to suit all ages. Read together. Prepare a meal or work in the garden. Stop by an art museum or shopping mall.
7. Do it for society. Keep in mind that intergenerational relationships are more than just fun. Focusing on our common good enables us all to minimize conflicts and contribute to society in our own unique way.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” ― Anaïs Nin
Expand your world by befriending someone who graduated from high school in a different era than you. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on life and surround yourself with more support.
Photo: jeronimo sanz