The chains of relationships between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren are known as intergenerational relationships. As society has changed and evolved, so have these family relationships. All families are different, and therefore all family interactions have distinct differences. Some families are close-knit, having frequent contact with each other and providing care as it become necessary for aging loved ones. Other families may feel simply an obligatory sense of duty when it comes to caring for each other, but don’t feel close emotionally.

Aging adults are living longer, healthier lives these days, making interaction among generations more important than ever. Various studies have been conducted that prove intergenerational relationships have positive outcomes for all those involved.

Enjoying Intergenerational Relationships

We’ve all seen how the family is portrayed by the media: the cantankerous grandparents who mistrust the youth of today, the frazzled parents trying to balance all aspects of their children’s lives while caring for their aging parents, the arguments and issues that are all resolved within a half hour time frame.

In real life, there’s more of a balance and back-and-forth reciprocity between the generations. Seniors today are healthier and more educated than in the past and can provide a wealth of knowledge and support to their own children and grandchildren, often caring for grandchildren when necessary. Adult children offer support to both their aging parents and children, helping with the health limitations of their aging loved ones while providing nurturance to their own children. The younger generation provide happiness and affection and help out with more simple tasks for both their parents and grandparents.

Intergenerational relationships, therefore, present a cyclical pattern of care and support amongst the family.

Activities to Enjoy with Visiting Grandchildren

Promote intergenerational relationships within your own family by having your children and grandchildren visit often. A family get together is beneficial to all those involved.  Maintaining relationships with your family helps you feel socially connected to the world and will boost your mood. The grandchildren will feel loved and special, and will get wonderful memories from visiting their grandparents.

Enjoy some fun activities with your children and grandchildren the next time they visit. A few ideas to help build family relationships and pass the time together can include breaking out some board games or teaching them your favorite card game. Start a chapter book with them; each time they visit, complete another chapter or two. Leaving them hanging will give them something to look forward to at each visit! You can also plan on doing some arts and crafts, or having a movie night.

When families stay connected, there are benefits for each generation. Children will have a better understanding of who they are and their own family history. Adult children, who tend to feel somewhat overwhelmed, can get some of the pressure taken off of them by knowing their aging parent is there to put life into perspective for them. And finally, seniors who experience close intergenerational interaction generally report less depression and better overall physical health.

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