Making new friends of all ages can enrich your life. If you look around you, and all your friends are just like you, you may want to start reaching out to those who are older or younger.
For instance, when we were on a trip to Alaska we were able to hear a presentation by Libby Riddles, the famous lady that won the 1985 Iditarod dog sledding race. I remember when she was talking about how she first located to Alaska that in that remote area, folks of all ages bind with and help each other.
I seem to find that maybe the city life drives a wedge between the generations since it’s just easier to connect with folks of your own age when you are a heavily populated area.
However, when the kids leave the nest, it may be a great time to broaden your reach and form some new relationships. Take a second look at the great-grandmother who lives next door or the young man who rides the bus with you. You may have more in common than you think!
Find your next new friend in an unexpected place. Check out the benefits of having friends of all ages.
Benefits of Friendships with Younger People
1. Receive mentoring. Children thrive on attention and love. A caring adult can help kids feel special and do better in school.
2. Learn from experience. You may be able to make smarter decisions by watching how things turn out for others in similar situations. Visiting the gym regularly and eating healthier could protect you from heart conditions and obesity.
3. Accept the aging process. Many people are apprehensive about growing old. Talking with someone like you who is comfortable with their grey hair may relieve their doubts.
4. Carry on traditions. Even if you love listening to the music of the 60’s and 70’s, discovering Taylor Swift could be a thrill. You may unearth all kinds of treasures when you explore what the younger generations do in their free time.
Benefits of Friendships for Older People
1. Boost your energy levels. Older people often say they enjoy greater energy and enthusiasm when they’re with younger companions. Play with your grandchildren or volunteer at an after-school program.
2. Stay up to date. Are you wondering if your winter coat looks dated or struggling to figure out the buttons on the remote control? A few minutes with someone under 20 could set you straight.
3. Deepen your sense of purpose. In your golden years, it’s common to spend more time contemplating the meaning of life. Exposure to a wide range of people gives you more food for thought.
4. Feel more connected. It’s easy to become isolated as we age. Loved ones pass away. Health issues and fixed incomes may force you to move out of your familiar neighborhood. Forging new ties can help you stay engaged and active.
How to Cultivate Friendships
1. Dispel stereotypes. The key to having friendships with people of all ages is to accept others. Forget about seniors being grumpy or teenagers being inconsiderate. Be open to seeing the good in everyone.
2. Communicate over long distances. Stay in touch by phone or text when you’re unable to get together face-to-face.
3. Wield your parental influence. Interacting with seniors prepares children for healthy relationships later in life. Spend long weekends together or schedule a weekly Skype call.
4. Evaluate advertising. Once upon a time everyone watched the same TV shows. Now niche marketing has segmented the audience. Visit websites your kids or parents recommend. You may come away with a better understanding of them.
5. Set reasonable expectations. Age gaps can make bonding more challenging. Be patient with each other. You may need to explain what a social media manager does if someone over 65 asks about your job.
6. Share activities. Fortunately, there are plenty of enriching activities to suit all ages. Read together. Prepare a meal or work in the garden. Stop by an art museum or shopping mall.
7. Do it for society. Keep in mind that friends and relationships are more than just fun. Focusing on our common good enables us all to minimize conflicts and contribute to society in our own unique way.
Widen your circle by befriending someone who graduated from high school in a different era than you. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on life and surround yourself with more support.
And, speaking of dog sledding. I am so fortunate to know a lady whose son is a real ‘musher’! Here is an article about his first race this season.
Kim Steadman is the COOP (Chief Online Operating Person) for The Re-Feathered Nest. A place of encouragement for moms entering the Empty Nest Zone who are ready to RePurpose and ReDesign according to God’s purpose for their lives now that the kids have flown the coop. Kim can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheRefeatheredNest and on Google+ at +Kim.