One thing I like better than a ‘win-win’ is a ‘win-win-win’ all the way around. A ‘win-win-win’ is what happens when teens and seniors connect. For example, a teen – for whom technology comes almost as naturally as breathing – might be able to help a senior get comfortable with a smartphone, computer or zoom room. A senior, who has lived through many times of cultural change, may be able to offer a hopeful perspective that will inspire a teen to become actively engaged in a current cause. The specific benefits for each teen and each senior can be as varied as the individuals involved because they bring their own unique life experience and perspective to the relationship.
But you might wonder, who is the 3rd winner in this ‘win-win-win’? We are! You, me, all of us! We win because when teens and seniors connect: isolation and loneliness is reduced, sense of purpose often increases, stories and history are kept alive, common understandings and respect can be developed, awareness of our interdependence grows, and the fabric of community is strengthened. And maybe not surprisingly, seniors can often be that “askable adult” a teen turns to for conversations about growth, development, and healthy relationships. Some parents fear those conversations and can be quick to shut them down. Seniors, with many more years of experience, can find it easier to listen while a teen finds their own answers.
For much of human history multi-generational households were common and as a result, intergenerational connections came naturally. In the 20th century a movement away from this convention was viewed as a sign of advancement. Now it seems that we, as a society, are coming full circle as we begin to recognize the individual and collective benefits of intergenerational connections.A ‘win-win-win’ for generations to come.
By Nadine J. Smet-Weiss, Community Liaison
Translation by Ana Villaman, Prevention Specialist