The older members of our society have often played a huge part in driving our country’s progress over the years and even defended it and its people’s freedom. However, as they age, many often find themselves fighting for veterans benefits, feeling undervalued in society as well as lonely and isolated.
Without meaning to, our actions towards them might make them feel condescended and unappreciated. We may treat them as much like our dependents, when, in fact, we do not realize that both ourselves and our children can benefit a lot from them.
Likewise, with our children, we often overlook the value that they can equally bring to situations with older family members. Studies around the world have found that bringing children closer to older people helps to prevent loneliness but also boasts health benefits and overall quality of life.
So, although we can often worry about our kids being a nuisance around older people, here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t leave your younger kids at home next time you visit your elderly relatives.
It helps a child’s development
Being around the older generation brings a different dynamic to kids and they often benefit from more one on one time. Older relatives operate at a different pace and so have more time to listen and engage, as they cannot run around and be boisterous with them due to physical limitations.
This means that the elderly often help aid a child’s language development, reading skills and empathy, amongst other benefits. They are also likely to be much more confident socially as a result of mixing with older people and gain skills in building relationships.
Older people feel valued and more alert
In return, the older generation can feel valued and empowered by spending time with younger people. Kids simply view the elderly as they do other adults and not as more vulnerable or of less value.
Kids will indiscriminately introduce them to light-hearted games and activities, taking their mind off the more serious issues that might consume them usually, like hospital appointments and finances. As a result, the elderly feel invigorated and by teaching kids skills and sharing stories, they feel more valued.
This can then help to prevent depression and loneliness, while also breaking them out of what may be a monotonous routine, sharpening their minds and stimulating them with new experiences and feelings of fulfillment.
So, there you have it, bringing together the two generations at the opposite ends of our family’s age group can be hugely beneficial. For parents too, it can be advantageous to see the calmer side of our kids and a happier side of our parents or grandparents, which can only be a win-win situation.
And, by bringing them together more regularly, it also means you don’t have to divide your time between the two as much! It does make sense on so many levels and makes you start to appreciate how Mediterranean families who have been modeling intergenerational relationships brilliantly for centuries are onto something.