Living in modern times with contemporary women, traditional family roles have shifted. In the majority of situations mom is still very much the “CEO of the family”. Scheduling doctors’ visits, coordinating carpool, choosing and engaging in the “right” activities at the “right” age and running the overall household, to name a few. No big deal. It’s a short list, right? Kidding!! Moms too often get “should-ed” on, so this certainly isn’t another list of “shoulds”. Rather, this is a fun list to help re-frame how you (and your kids) might think about the elderly. How socializing with the elderly regularly could be one of the best things you choose to do for everyone involved.
First things First
It’s important to get our assumptions out of the way. Don’t worry, I am very familiar with the old adage about assumptions, and I do NOT need a reminder. But, sometimes I think assumptions can really come in handy when I’m clarifying my point.
Thus, I will assume that a lot of moms share common goals of creating secure yet fun environments for their children. Ones that support them in learning and growing into confident and happy individuals; ones who eventually become compassionate adults who are authentically fulfilled in life. If your “Mom Mission Statement” is something similar to this, then please keep reading.
So regardless of whether your kids are toddlers or teenagers, these are five top reasons to prioritize spending time with a beloved senior citizen. And these go beyond just grandparents or special occasion celebrations with extended family.
1) A shared Playfulness & Curiosity
Most elders have achieved in life a perspective that allows them to recognize what is actually important. Generally with retirement and as life slows down, there is more time for thoughtfulness. Whether you have young children or teens, elders value moments of levity where they have fun and be playful and ask silly questions too.
2) Much Appreciated Candor
Kids say the darnedest things there’s no doubt about it. Their commitment to honesty can introduce such an exciting conversation for an elder. And much like kids may say things to the elders that they don’t expect, elders often communicate in ways kids don’t hear on a regular basis. It’s a great conversational exchange and at the very least, entertaining for mom.
3) A lesson in compassion.
No matter the age, part of development is self-awareness and recognizing what is different. Socializing with someone whose looks may have changed or “faded”, who may move differently or more slowly can create an opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
Elders have oftentimes developed a sense of humor and humility that allow them to take most all things in stride. But sometimes they struggle, as any human would. Seeing that struggle can be just as valuable as witnessing someone responding perfectly; it’s especially a good reminder for kids of certain ages that are constantly competing or measuring themselves to their peers.
While your kids may have exposure to elders with their own grandparents, they get accustomed to their set of challenges. But, by interacting with other seniors a child’s global view can expand to understand and appreciate even more.
4) Undivided Attention
Newsflash, most elders aren’t neurochemically addicted to their cell phones (Hallelujah!). They grew up in a time when people only had the option to chat in person, by written letter, or on the phone. Especially when given the chance to chat with someone they normally wouldn’t (like your kiddos) they are more excited and more inclined to give your kids their full-attention. That type of focus is contagious! Kiddos will learn to engage with equal levels of attention and excitement once they put down their iPads, of course. 😉
5) Imaginative Storytelling and Unexpected Education
Have you ever heard a grandpa tell a story about the crazy things he used to do growing up? Did he tell it with a similar enthusiasm as you might hear your child tell a story about visiting the dinosaur museum or learning some new trick in sports? The point-, not all things worth discussing or learning are on Google. (*Gasp* I know. I promise I’m not trying to #breaktheinternet here.) Frequently sharing stories between generations creates some of the greatest exchanges one could ever dream. Maybe your family can’t or doesn’t travel as often as you’d prefer. Or you compromise on schools or other activities; well let me tell you, adventure and education that can be found at the feet of elders can supplement those compromises a lot more than you might think.
Now, I know this list is compelling. However, if you’re not convinced of the value of these top reasons then you may be more encouraged knowing many studies confirm the benefits of multi-generational socialization for both the young and old.
So as the CEO of the family, I enthusiastically suggest you add a senior citizen or two to your play date list. Laughter, patience, compassion, fun, nostalgia, and discovery are just some of the many experiences you can share. Oh, and they often like the same snacks too, so that’s a bonus! 😉
With much love and compassion,
About the author:
Beth Rosellini is the Founder and self-described “Grandparent Whisperer” behind seniordelight.com. She started this subscription gift box business aimed to connect younger and older generations more frequently and in a more thoughtful and fulfilling manner. Her passion for elders originated from her experience working in nursing homes. It was also heavily influenced by her being raised as part of a big family that had four generations interacting together on a frequent basis. For more information, you can check out seniordelight.com or you can connect with her team on their very fun Instagram account at @seniordelightbox