Our thanks to Nancy K. Schlossberg (Author, Too Young to be Old, Published by the American Psychological Association in 2017) for sharing the following creative Intergenerational experience.
Six of us ranging in age from 13 to 93 met for brunch. The group consisted of my daughter age 54, son-in-law age 56, granddaughters ages 13 and 15, friend age 93 and I age 90.
I began to wonder how this disparate group could coalesce and bond. Author Ann Patchett’s column in the Washington Post (Sunday, July 14, 2019, B1) saved the day. I had the answer. Patchett talked about the ways Snoopy encouraged her to become and stay an author. “Snoopy got far more rejection letters than… acceptances…He was willing to lose…He lost, and he continued to be cool…in the face of both failure and success.”
I shared Patchett’s story with the group, suggesting we each tell about a failure and how we coped with it. Many of the stories reflected a public embarrassment. My 13-year-old granddaughter told a story of her embarrassment when she gave a class report that exceeded the assignment’s instructions causing the teacher to cut her off half-way through. My 93-year-old friend told about a violin performance when he was a teenager. His playing squeaked; he could feel his parents’ disappointment. I told about an early career experience when I arranged for experts in my field to come and demonstrate for a group of professionals in my geographical area. The experts asked me to demonstrate some techniques and I froze. How embarrassing? Would I ever recover my professional standing? Each of us could relate to the topic of failure. We were able to have a meaningful discussion that crossed generations.
A little later, this same group with the addition of my son age 52, discussed what makes for success. Each person offered a take on the topic ranging from persistence, to positive attitude, to developing and practicing new skills.
Many other topics are ripe for bonding among generations. For example, gratitude, loneliness, rupture in a friendship and I could go on and on. The point: Intergenerational discussions and relationships can be enhanced by discussing topics related to human behavior.
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