Holiday time fosters the time when young and old members get opportunity to interact, engage in conversation and catch up on each other lives.  This intergenerational experience is one that brings great benefit to both the older and younger generations.

While we know parents love children unconditionally, grandparents bring a completely different kind of non judgmental “can do no wrong” type of love to grandchildren and in turn, grandparents receive the type of joy, happiness and little bit of youth that is no longer a part of their everyday lives.

There are certainly elders in our family that may not quite meet the ever-loving-joyful criteria, still, there is much to be found in them and learned from them that cannot be found anywhere else. They carry a piece of history and intrigue about the world as they experienced it.  It is beneficial for young children to be exposed to elders, to understand a walker or loud voice is nothing to be afraid of, and that the stories they may hear can bring greater awareness about who they are, and where they come from.

Teenagers also have much to learn and offer their elders.  Teaching teenagers to look forward to more than the $50.00 bill they get in a holiday card when they visit a grandparent can open up a fresh perspective on their own parents.   Listening to stories about what a parent was like at their age helps a teen to identify and to possibly see Mom and Dad in a different light. 

I was exposed to the intergenerational experience at very young age. I was blessed with 4 of the best grandparents that led to my passion and career with elders and have been now working with elders for over twenty years.   When people ask me if it makes me depressed, my response is – it makes me smarter.  I have collected more wisdom, information and understanding of the world from the elders I have had the pleasure of knowing along the way both grouchy and pleasant alike, and am grateful for their teaching.

This holiday season, I encourage you to take the time to truly interact with your elders. I encourage younger generations to learn their history, ask what your parents were like at your age.  Below are some additional questions to address with older members of your family. Everyone has a story to tell, and each story is a significant piece of who you are.

  • Start a conversation with a question:
  • What are you most proud of in your life?
  • What was it like where your grew up?
  • What is your favorite family tradition?
  • What is one of your happiest memories?
  • What advice would you give to your younger self?

Or consider participating in The Great Thanksgiving Listen.  Theia Senior Solutions loves the mission of Story Corps to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.