You live and you learn … and then you want to pass on that knowledge and experience to younger generations to either spare them from making the same mistakes or encourage them to make the same wonderful choices you made.
Older adults have a lot of wisdom to offer, and sometimes the distance of an extra generation is just enough space to let youngsters see things differently. Here are some ways to impart your knowledge to your children, grandchildren and other youngsters to help them live fuller lives.
1. Record Yourself
Perhaps you want to share your stories with your grandchildren in a way they can access anytime, anywhere. Record your story either on camera or a voice recorder. If your lessons apply to someone in particular, give it to them as a gift and include a card with a personal note detailing the parallels and the lessons you hope they take away from hearing your life story. This will be a gift they will treasure for years to come.
2. Join a Group That Pairs the Old with the Young
Many community and educational programs offer opportunities for older adults to speak about their life experiences and spend time with youngsters. This is a chance to connect with your community and meet new people, and even help improve children’s reading levels. Studies show that cross-generational interactions have a positive impact on both young and old.
3. Turn Your Life Into a Novel
Similar to recording it, write your story the way you remember it. If you have time, writing and reminiscing is a great way to keep your brain active, and will help you take a walk down memory lane that will likely make you laugh and cry. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your story: Research has found that creative writing helps those who are battling mental conditions such as depression and stress and physical conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. When you’ve finished your story, share it with your loved ones and anyone else you trust, and be prepared to answer their questions as they discover what you’ve been through.
You don’t have to join a group that specifically matches you with younger people to meet them — the opportunity is everywhere. Your local hospital, library or even your granddaughter’s elementary school are all great places to start. You’re guaranteed to meet many youngsters who can benefit from your life’s lessons at any of these locations — and they just may teach you a thing or two!
Sharing Really IS Caring
The bottom line is that sharing your knowledge with younger generations shows you care enough to tell them what you know, sometimes as a cautionary tale for them to avoid making the same mistakes you once did. And don’t forget that you don’t have to have scheduled times or places to impart your wisdom; it can come even when you take your grandson to the park, or have breakfast with your daughter. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the opportunity when you get it — a family member may not directly reach out for advice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer it if they sound like they could use some direction. It could bring you closer together, positioning you as a trusted source of wisdom for all you have lived through.
Sharing your knowledge with younger generations will help you enjoy time with family, sharing memories and reminiscing. Learn how you can remain independent as you age with our free guide, Aging in Place: A Popular Trend for a New Generation of Seniors.
(Originally published May 3, 2017; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)