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Intergenerational Joy

There are some thought-provoking points of intersection between You Could Live a Long Time and Teens Gone WiredGenerativity is one overlap that I’ve been pondering. The psychologist Erik Erikson coined the term and, at age 87, had this to say.

"The only thing that can save us as a species is seeing how 
we're not thinking about future generations in the way we live.  
What's lacking is generativity, a generativity that will promote 
positive values in the lives of the next generation.  Unfortunately, 
we set the example of greed, wanting a bigger and better everything, 
with no thought of what will make it a better world for our great-grandchildren."  

Teens Gone Wired talks about the importance to our young people of having loving, meaningful relationships with adults other than their parents. For some teens, grandparents and great-grandparents provide that positive force in their lives. For the author Mary Piper, it was the time she spent with her grandmothers that saved her when she was going through periods of hating her body, her town and her school. On the flip side, You Could Live a Long Time recommends hanging out with young people. Ninety-year-old role model, Betty, is passionate about spending time with people much younger – especially her grandchildren and their friends. “I get a lot of inner happiness when I see young people and I’m always learning something current.”

But you don’t have to be related to get the benefits of generativity. The New Horizons for Seniors Program has funded a number of projects across the country that connect seniors and young people. One of my favourites is “A Walk on the Wild Side” where the seniors in the Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatoon have created eco-trails and insect/butterfly gardens in collaboration with grade five and six students. According to the master gardener, “The seniors have taught the kids to slow down, listen, reflect and appreciate the natural environment.”

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Reader Comments (1)

Erik is so right and it's a shame that very few people realize the importance of correcting ourselves, our generativity, not for our future but for the future of our children's children.

December 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha Tygart

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