Social connections are important for physical and mental wellness, no matter the stage of life you’re in. Our relationships with others—and how we build them—have value. We already know that robust social connections provide a variety of benefits, from promoting a sense of security to significantly improving general well-being. Beyond those benefits, however, lies a meaningful opportunity to preserve family ties and traditions that will stand the test of time. This holds value for all ages. So if you want to nurture and invest in intergenerational relationships of your own, here are some ways to start deepening these connections.
Spend More Time Face-to-Face
Most intergenerational relationships can benefit from face-to-face interaction. If you’re both able to meet in person, this is the best place to start. For some, technology can feel confusing and unfamiliar—but sitting down over lunch or participating in an activity can be a simple, low-stress way to spend time together.
It’s important to make an effort to initiate face-to-face conversations when you can. However, using technology to communicate can help maintain our relationships over time. Seniors who want to improve their tech skills and connect with younger generations can use help from family members or local classes to learn the tablet and smartphone basics.
Be Curious and Ask Questions
Whether you are the older or younger person in an intergenerational relationship dynamic, remember that both age brackets have a unique, insightful perspective to offer. If you are the child or grandchild, you can benefit from the experiential wisdom your loved one brings to the table. Likewise, if you are the parent or grandparent, you can become more informed, aware and socially conscious of modern cultural values by listening to younger generations. Be curious and open to what each of you has to share with the other.
Pursue a New Hobby Together
Many connections are built on common ground or mutual interests—and intergenerational relationships are no different. Seek out activities or hobbies that you can do together to help foster a sense of unity. This can be as simple as doing a puzzle or craft project with your loved one. There’s not only one way to do it. Your time spent together could include maintaining a garden, joining a book club, or participating in a continuing education class. Additionally, you could try learning how to play a musical instrument or even plan some day trips to fun local attractions.
Maintain a Posture of Learning
As with all successful communications and interactions, it helps to enter an intergenerational relationship with the humility to recognize that you both have much to learn from one another. Lead with vulnerability and a willingness to understand where the other person is coming from. You might not see eye-to-eye all the time, but you can release that expectation and commit to showing each other respect, even if you disagree. There are always important lessons to learn from generations that differ from your own. Embrace this opportunity!
Build Intergenerational Relationships to Boost Your Quality of Life
You’d be surprised how rewarding it is to foster authentic connections between generations. Aside from the clear physical and mental benefits of an intergenerational relationship, you might discover a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life as well. Reach across those generational lines and connect with a loved one or acquaintance—it just might be the start of a beautiful relationship that you wouldn’t trade for anything.