Teaching Children That They Can Learn From the Elderly
I remember visiting my grandparents and how much I enjoyed being around them. I used to rub my grandfather's bald head, hold on to my grandmother's soft hands, and comb her thinning silver hair. Some parts of my grandparents' childhood were difficult, but they talked about how they made it through. As children my brother and sister and I were around different ages of people, but for me, who is now taking care of an elderly parent, my experiences as a child has helped me appreciate the elderly. I ask my Mom questions about her life and I learn a lot. I learn about old family recipes, about old fashioned remedies, and about things she misses which she considers the simpler things in life. It is my belief as I have observed in my own little world that most children don't spend a lot of time around elderly people. If they did I believe they would have more compassion, respect, and value for the elderly.
I do realize that families, in today's economy, are "bunking" up together to save money and this "bunking" up together is drawing them closer and children are able to spend more time with elderly relatives, if they are living in the home. If this is the case children can also see how to take care and / or participate in the care of an elderly relative. Children are inquisitive and it would benefit them to be encouraged to spend time with and talk to elderly (or should I say seasoned) individuals.
Have you ever noticed a young child shy away from an elderly individual? Sure you have. How can we teach our children to gravitate and learn from the elderly?
- Volunteer at assisted living housing and take your child with you. Read to the elderly and allow your child to read to them as well.
- Serve meals maybe with Meals On Wheels for individuals who are sick and shut-in and take your child with you.
- There are organizations that provide visiting pets several times a week to assisted living housing. Volunteer with that organization and bring your child with you.
- Encourage your child to become a Pen Pal to an elderly person. Who doesn't like getting letters? I did something out of the ordinary - I wrote my Mom a letter and mailed it to her, and yes she lives with me. Guess what, she wrote me back.
I believe that when children grow up around elderly individuals there will be less of a disconnect between generations. What do I mean by a disconnect?
- Young people (our youth) won't lose interest in an older generation
- The attitude of "some else will take care of the elderly" will be less prevalent and our youth, as they mature, will step up and care for their elderly parents or an elderly relative
- Our youth will gain respect and compassion for the elderly
- Our youth will not shy away from the elderly because of physical differences
- Our youth will realize that someday they will be an elderly individual
Our children should be taught that elderly individuals possess wisdom and knowledge which can assist them live wisely. Our children can learn what mistakes not to make in life by listening to individuals who have been living longer and have experienced what our children will experience. As a child I know that I avoided many mistakes by listening to my elders and I am so glad I listened to them.
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