We talk about facilitating inter-generational relationships as one of our key focus, and many wonder what we mean and how we go about it.
Inter-generational Relations simple means the interactions between individuals of different generations. These interactions include communication, caring, accountability, loyalty, and even conflict between related or non-related individuals.
It comprises of the ties between individuals or groups of different ages. Family circumstances and the decisions made by members of one generation within the family have implications for the development of members within the same generation and for members of other generations. – Encyclopedia
Generations not only mean from the same bloodline but the transition from one age group to another, say, from the colonial age to the millennial age different generations have come and gone and still evolving.
How then can inter-generational relationships be facilitated?
By creating age-friendly communities and an age-friendly world where all generations can interact, brainstorm together and achieve great potentials. Today, in Nigeria, we see a gap in the political generations, this scenario leaves the youthful sector in tension as there is little or no ground and platform created for them to communicate effectively for their voices to be heard and situations bothering them to be solved.
THE FOUR Rs
The “Four Rs” are qualities through which inter-generational relationships can be enhanced upon understanding and building on them. These qualities provide support and service continuity.
Younger generations show respect for older generations in various ways. As they grow and experience the usual benchmarks of maturation such as getting married, living independently, becoming parents, and developing a work pattern; relationships between the generations tend to become closer (Belsky & Rovine, 1984; Suitor & Pillemer, 1988; Roberts, Richards, & Bengtson, 1991).
During the adolescent and early adult years, younger persons may not be cognizant of the respect they hold for their elders. They may minimize the relevancy of the older generations’ information because the younger generation feels more contemporary.
Both generations should learn to foster mutual respect between themselves, as information changes with age. Things the younger generation have knowledge of might be limited to what the older generation knows.
It is respect for inter-generational relationships that provides some explanation for the importance younger family members place on relationships with older generations.
Research shows that younger generations’ show feelings of responsibility for older generations who are their kin (Suitor, Pillemer, Keeton, & Robison, 1996). Adult children and grandchildren have a sense of obligation for their parents and grandparents as well as parents and grandparents having a sense of obligation towards their children and grandchildren in a way different from the above. It is typical for young adults to express a desire to provide assistance if their parents need it in the future. Adult children make extraordinary sacrifices in supporting older relatives because they feel responsible to provide care. Responsibility may be grounded in a feeling of obligation or “pay back” for all the older generation previously did for the younger generation, and the older generation having the idea that they need to train their younger ones to become better or achieve more than they could.
Either ways it is important to be fully committed to our responsibilities as individuals despite our generations. No pressure whatsoever should be implored in fulfillment of responsibility.
Throughout most of life, inter-generational relationships are characterized by reciprocity. While younger generations support older relatives, older relatives are assisting younger persons. In short, inter-generational relationships in the later years are a two-way street. The classic example that many people readily observe is the child care provided by many grandparents and the emotional support adult children and grandchildren give to the grandparents.
The resiliency of inter-generational relationships can be seen in the ways by which families develop strategies to deal with change within the society and family. Individuals come up with sustainable solutions to enhance their means of livelihoods.
According to Joseph Hart,
Before one can reap the rewards of inter-generational friendships, one has to cultivate them. And since most of us live surprisingly age-segregated lives, that can prove challenging. Here are some tips that can help you find and maintain social connections outside of your own age group.
Extend your acquaintances. Consider whether there might be a potential pal among the individuals you already know casually, perhaps through family or work connections.
Leverage lifetime activities. Religious groups, craft guilds, choirs, community gardens and clubs organized around shared, lifelong interests can be great places to meet new people of all ages who already share your passions.
Don’t settle. As with any friendship, this one should be grounded in common interests and values. It’s best when there are rich rewards in it for you both.
Stay open. Even if you share a terrific connection, both you and your differently aged pal may still need to do some thoughtful listening and nuanced communicating to bridge age-driven differences in social expectations and assumptions.
Through our programs and community outreaches, we are empowering societies to create and strengthen inter-generational relationships.
In what ways do you promote inter-generational relationships?