Promoting Interaction among the Generations

intergenerational relationships

Family relationships are ever-changing in today’s society. Throughout our lives, the relationships we have with our parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren bring us both challenges and happiness as we strive to keep those connections strong and meaningful. The way we communicate amongst family can strengthen our emotional health and help us understand our own behaviors and emotions.

No two families are alike, and therefore all family interactions have distinct differences. Some families move to opposite regions of the country or even the world, and don’t connect more than a few times a year around holidays or important events. Others are close-knit, constantly in contact with each other, and gladly provide care as it becomes necessary to aging loved ones. Some families don’t feel close emotionally, yet will still provide care simply out of an obligatory sense of duty.

The Importance of Intergenerational Relationships

The older generations are living longer, healthier lives in recent years. This means we have more access than ever to our elders, and staying connected is more important than ever. Several studies have been conducted proving that maintaining intergenerational relationships have positive outcomes for each age group within the family.

Intergenerational relationships provide a pattern of support and care amongst the family. There’s a give-and-take, back-and-forth exchange between the generations. For instance, the youngest generation, the grandchildren, can help grandparents with simple tasks, or help teach them about technology. How many times have you seen a child help an older person set up a cell phone, computer or tablet or show them how to work a remote control? The adult children of the family assist aging loved ones, providing care and support they might need due to their health limitations. Meanwhile, today’s seniors can offer a wealth of knowledge to the younger generations and often aid in the care of grandchildren whenever necessary.

The positive benefits of intergenerational relationships are numerous. Children will see enhanced social skills and stability in their lives, helping them maintain better grades and stay away from negative influences. Older adults who are close to their grandchildren are healthier and less lonely and stay more involved in the world around them.

These intergenerational relationships help strengthen not only the family, but also the individual and the community by bringing everyone together.

Enhancing your Family Relationships

You can promote the intergenerational relationships within your own family by encouraging your children and grandchildren to visit as often as possible. Build family relationships during get-togethers by doing activities that get everyone involved, like playing some board games or teaching them your favorite card game. Have movie nights where each time a different person gets to choose their favorite movie to watch. Start a craft project and add to it each week until you have a new family keepsake.

Seniors who are connected among the generations of their families report less depression and better physical health. They get a sense of accomplishment from taking the burden off their adult children by watching their grandchildren from time to time, while helping the youngest generation learn more about who they are and where they came from.

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