School functions. Team sports. Youth groups. There are a zillion ways to create social interaction for children and teens. But is your family making time with the elderly in your life a priority? If not, they’re missing out. We need to help our kids spend time with older folks for lots of reasons.
We learned this when our kids were little, and we had a lovely woman named Louise in our life. They talked to her at church. Eventually, she taught one of our daughters how to paint, and we’d often take her to lunch or find ways to spend family time over many occasions with her.
In a similar relationship, early on in our marriage, Susan and I befriended a wise elderly couple who shared scores of marriage lessons with us that helped us through our struggles and inspired us to work hard on having a great marriage.
Some of our experiences got us thinking about some of the best reasons to encourage relationships with the elderly and our kids:
First, time with the elderly helps the elderly:
- Improved mental and physical health for the elderly. Research indicates that they benefit from interaction with younger people, mentally and physically. Being around the young often takes them back to their youth.
- Decreased loneliness. Loneliness is a huge issue for the elderly, much less for our culture. Being alone, feeling forgotten, and wondering if you matter to anyone…that can be devastating at any age.
- The gift of purpose and honor. When your family spends time with the elderly, it can give them a sense of value and dignity and purpose, whether by sharing their wisdom, or just being appreciated and loved.
And here are ways time with the elderly helps your family:
- Understanding the dignity of every life. We should all value and recognize the inherent dignity and worth of all people at all stages of life. This is easier for kids to do when they know older people personally.
- Cultivate honor and respect for the elderly. If we do this when they’re young we also stand a better chance of seeing this in them toward us when we are older.
- Cultivate an attitude of service. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but it’s important to do things that serve others’ needs over our own.
- Developing comfort and confidence in young people interacting with adults. The more adults your kids are around, and interacting with, the better they can handle the transition to adulthood later.
- Loving others well and serving them brings great joy. There is joy in service and in relationship that is hard to define but great to experience.
We should all value and recognize the inherent dignity and worth of all people at all stages of life.
What are some other ways your family has been blessed by relationships with the elderly? Share your thoughts below, and thanks for reading!