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Society divides individuals according to age, among many other classifications. Therefore, the young are expected to fulfill some duties and so are the adults and the elderly. Despite being separated by societal roles, there has always existed a special relationship between the young and the old. Members of the two groups tend to have a lot of time on their hands since the old are considered too frail to carry out daily activities, and the young are considered to be too inexperienced to be given the responsibility of any sort. These two age groups unlike the generation between them (i.e. the adults) have, thus, found a way to enjoy life and avoid getting the unnecessary pressures like stress and feeling like they are running out of time. A large body of research proves the benefits of the relationship between the young and the old. They have their obstacles as well, but these far outweigh the benefits. Intergenerational relationships are important and should be maintained to for the general well-being of society.
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Research has established the benefits of the existence of a relationship between the old and the young; as mentioned earlier. In the past, families were more integrated than they are now and the members of the family lived together. Therefore, the old would stay in the house and take care of the young while the young adults would go about their day to day activities. In the modern age, society is much more isolated, and the young are obligated to go to school. Therefore, this leaves the older people with no one to care for them. In the Western world, older people are placed in retirement homes, and this has seen the deterioration in the relationships that are intergenerational in nature. In order to improve this relationship, research has found that improving training and using the right resources in joint day care centers for both the elderly and children can go a long way in ensuring that each day relationships between the young and the old are fostered and maintained for the benefit of both parties. Seltzer, (2015) identifies the shifting dynamics in the population. For instance, Seltzer states that the increasing amounts of children that are born in non- marital situations and increasing divorce rates are making it hard for intergenerational relationships to exist. Seltzer recommends a new national survey to ensure that the intergenerational support offered to families is comprehensive.
Strom (2015) notes there are several obstacles that prevent the development of intergenerational relationships. The first obstacle is the use of age segregated communication practices that make intergenerational interactions rare. The second obstacle is the lack of imitative by the younger individuals to develop these relationships by reconnecting with their elders. Blinn-Pike (2015) provides hope for the younger generation faulted for lacking initiative for developing intergenerational relationships. The researcher notes that the youth that participated in the survey highly valued the relationship that they shared with their elderly relatives and wished to spend more time with them. Therefore, it is interesting to note that despite the societal changes and shifts in dynamics, the need for the young to establish relationships with the elderly is very much present.
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The intergenerational relationship is very beneficial to the children involved. The first benefit is that the young get a better sense of who they are as individuals. By learning about the family history from the elders, the young are able to better understand where they came from and developed their own individuality. For example, a child can learn about the past occupations in the family and understand why the father expects him or her to become a doctor or a lawyer or a shoemaker. Secondly, the elders act as mentors to the young children who always need someone positive in their live to emulate (Bosak, 2006). Through the mentorship they receive from the elders, the children can develop life skills that they will need in the future as adults such as self-esteem and confidence. Young adults tend to be plagued by many responsibilities and more often than not they find themselves very busy with very little time to spare. Therefore, their children lack the necessary adult presence that they need direly. The intergenerational relationships allow for the young children to get undivided attention from an adult figure. Finally, the children are able to develop interests in new activities that they could never have been exposed to were it not for the older adults. For example, a child can develop an interest in fishing after watching his or her grandfather fish whenever they spend time together.
The old also gain from regular interactions with the young. The old get a chance to parents once more. When they were younger, they had a lot of pressure to be ideal parents to their own children. Now that they have gained experience with their first children, they get a chance to apply the lessons that they learned in the past on their children’s children. Therefore, the old are able to enjoy the benefits of being parents once again. Second, the old get a chance to leave a powerful legacy with the young. Humans always want to feel that they matter and that they will not be forgotten. Therefore, it is necessary that they are able to leave something that they will be remembered by. The old get to learn from the young and vice versa. The relationship leaves them much better than they were bore it even began. Finally, the old enjoy many health benefits of associating themselves with the young. First, they enjoy better physical health that is a result from the rigors of interacting with the young. Second, the old are able to achieve high degrees of satisfaction after teaching the young necessary life skills. Third, the old who interact regularly with the young have reported less depression. Clearly, the old are enjoying the relationship that they have with the young.
In conclusion, the intergenerational relationships are very important to both the young and the old. These relationships improve the general health of society. There are various obstacles to these relationships like isolation; age segregated communication patterns and lack of initiative from both sides; especially the young. However, the young have not lost interest in the old. There are many benefits to this kind of relationship for both the young and the old. The young are able to develop life skill and interests in new activities. The old are able to enjoy health benefits like less depression and higher degrees of satisfaction. Intergenerational relationships are very important to society.
- S. Epstein, C. B. (2006). Let’s do something together: Identifying the effective components of intergenerational programs. . Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 4(3) , 87-109.
- Bosak, S. V. (n.d.). Benefits of Intergenerational Connections.
- Blinn-Pike, B. M. (2015). College Students: Journaling About Their Intergenerational Relationships with Their Living and Dead Grandparents. College Student Journal 49(4) , 475-486.
- D. Strom, P. S. (2015). Assessment of intergenerational communication and relationships. Educational Gerontology 41(1) , 41-52.
- Seltzer, J. A. (2015). Intergenerational family support proesses from young adulthood through later life: Do we need a new national survery? Journal of Economic & Social Measurement 40(1-4) , 231-247.