Bridging the Generational Gap
Recently I have been talking to my teenage daughter about issues that affect the elderly and she told me that one of the areas that we need to address is learning how to bridge the generational gap between the young people and the mature and elderly adults.
She even told me that one of her school mates at college complained that there is a communication gap between these two groups. They believe that the older people do not value their opinions and often shun them from their ‘adult conversation’ saying that they are too young or they lack the maturity. I am sometimes guilty of doing this to my daughter.
She likes to sit and listen in on any conversation that I have with other adult friends. However, I find it annoying when she does this saying that it is ill mannered and she should go away. Was this the right way to handle that situation? I now ask myself; should I allow her to be a part of the conversation if it is not too personal? This is something to think about and I believe many people will have different opinions on the matter. Your input is quite welcome and you can voice it in the reply box below.
On the other hand many older people especially the elderly complain that the young people do not socialize with or talk to them. The situation is quite noticeable at social gatherings at church where the young people will sit together while the older folks sit by themselves. This has been the pattern throughout the generations and no one seems to be able to know how to solve the problem.
A few months ago the youths at my church had a very interesting discussion about bridging the gap between the old and the young. They had identified the problems and the solutions but after the meeting no one make an effort to address the situation. This is basically our problem in the church – lack of implementing solutions.
I believe that some young people have a fear of being around the elderly because they believe that they have nothing in common so they will not know what to say to them.
When my son was a baby, he had a deep fear of the elderly and he would not go to them, not even his grandmother. The fear persisted until today when he is now a teenager. I asked him on many occasions why he was so fearful of the elderly but he does not seem to know the answer. He only said that he did not like to see their wrinkles. I told him that he will also have wrinkles when he gets older but he refused to believe me.
We all agree that there is a great rift between the old and the young and we need to address it.
Strategies to bridge the gap
- We need to recognize that a healthy relationship between the young and the old is very beneficial to both parties. They can learn from each other. You are not too old to learn and you are not too young to teach. First you need to kill the pride if you find it difficult to do. The Lord encourages us to submit to each other. He said that the young must submit to the elderly and the older folks must submit and be an example to the young people.
- The Lord also encourages the older women to teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children, teach them how to be discreet, chaste, good homemakers and how to be obedient to their husbands. These are full time work that retired women can do. You can learn more about full time work for God right here.
- It is God’s desire that both young and old work together and have a good relationship. The Lord has a purpose for each of us from before we were born. He will lead you to this purpose anytime you seek him and give your life to him.
When I was a young adult, the Lord specifically told me that I should identify all the elderly folks in my church and get their addresses. Then in my spare time I should visit them and talk to them. I should also help them with their chores and errand. I obeyed the Lord and visited one elderly lady at her home. She was overjoyed to see me. We spent a long time together talking and sharing stories. Actually she shared her stories and experiences and I enjoyed listening to her and learning from her.
She was alone at home and she craved the company. I realized that this was a ministry that God had given to me but unfortunately I did not continue but chose instead to follow the ways of my peers. I regretted my disobedience for many years. I believe that God has placed this ministry in the hearts of many young people in order to bridge the gap. If you recognize that you are one such person obey God because this will lead you to your destiny.
- As a church we should make every effort to plan activities that will incorporate both young and old. We should also ensure that we mix and mingle together during our social functions. These can be done through games or seating arrangements at dinner functions. I have been to a number of diner functions put on by the church to encourage togetherness but unfortunately most people even the leaders prefer to sit with their own family instead of mingling with everyone. The young people of course all sit together while the elderly stay by themselves. It is very sad and God is not pleased with us.
There are of course many other strategies we can enforce to encourage mixing and unity of the generations. We need to close the gap because if it persists there will be division in the church and where there is no unity there is no power. We can be the one to make the first move to reach out to the youths. Yes, it is important for the youths to try and reach out to the older and more mature, but we can also reach out by engaging them in conversations, asking them about their hobbies, interests and likes and sharing with them some of your own stories of being young children and teens like them.
How can we bridge the generational gap? What other strategies can you think of? Your input is valuable so share with us in the reply box below.
Additional references: 1 Peter 5:5, Titus 2
Featured image by Ambro/Freedigitalphotos.net
Wow! I know better now not to ALWAYS ask my children to excuse my husband and I while we talk. This post has given me some huge ideas for parenting and our Church. Thanks a lot for sharing.
You are welcome to this blog Ugochi and thank you for sharing. We were not trained to be parents we all learn from each other and from our mistakes. I am glad that this post is a blessing to you. May God continue to bless you and keep up the good work.