The Benefits of Inter-generational Relationships in Your Child’s Life

Inter-generational relationships are a great way for children to get a sense of history, context, and perspective.  Often, adults, other than a parent, can connect with your child in ways a parent simply can’t.  I’ve seen family friends help teenagers through a rough time at school, grandparents give insightful friendship advice, and uncles get their nieces and nephews to try a new activity. Where a child might be standoffish to their parent, they are more willing to listen to relatives and less likely to talk back. Interacting with the elderly will also alleviate any chance for fears to develop in your children and give them an opportunity to witness and better understand the aging process, thus creating more empathetic adults down the line.

More than ever, parents are living in communities without relatives nearby, so creating an environment where your child is consistently interacting with other adults is challenging.  Lean on your friends!  While your friends with kids of similar age are always great (especially for playdates and group activities), don’t forget your friends that don’t have children or have older children.  Our friends with teenage children are eager to spend time with our son (who is only 3), since they enjoy a taste of those early years.  They bring a unique level of energy and enthusiasm, and since these are experienced, seasoned parents, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about parenting from them.  And their teenage children have become an integral part of our son’s life – they come over for holidays, birthdays, weekends, as though they are part of the family. I have friend’s who have grown up celebrating milestones and holidays with other families who would now say those people have become closer than relatives. They know they could call them at any time of the day and that they would respond in such a way where they would do absolutely anything for them.

Having children interact with adults other than their parents and teachers can help encourage social ease and confidence.  And this can pay off in many ways.  There are the practical benefits – for example, when high schoolers are interviewing for college or trying to get an internship.  But its much more than that – it allows your child to get exposed to and learn from a broader range of people.  It also helps build an appreciation for the past. As a parent, stories about your younger years can get old really fast, but hearing stories from a diverse range of adults gives your child unique insights into history. Kids are also quick to turn a deaf ear to parents and their wisdom, however, an adult friend could give the exact same advice and the teenager would consider it the best advice they have ever heard.

Ultimately, it is important for kids to respect, trust and learn from adults of all kinds. As soon as we learn that we, as parents, cannot be all things to our children, the better. Introducing them to a variety of cultures, adults, insights and opinions will develop strong, confident, well-adjusted children and, eventually, adults.

Parenting Expert, mom-of-one and Kinsights Co-Founder Jennifer Chung knows that being a parent can often feel like a confusing and isolating experience, especially for first-time parents or parents of a child with a medical condition. She contributes her parenting expertise to online, print, and broadcast media outlets on all topics of baby, family, and parenthood. She also knows that parents often get the most useful advice from each other, and Kinsights was developed to make that process easier by connecting you with parents who have been in your shoes before and who could provide relevant advice. Kinsights also helps parents organize their child’s health information, as they created a user-friendly interface that any parent could use to create a beautifully charted personal health record.

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8 thoughts on “The Benefits of Inter-generational Relationships in Your Child’s Life

  1. This is a very thoughtful and well written post. I think it’s very important for children to engage with people from all age groups. I have always been very close to my grandparents. They’ve taught me so much and had a huge part in shaping the person I’ve become. Children really do benefit from learning about their family history and the values of previous generations.

  2. What a wonderful insight on learning from elders. I love being a grandparent. We have more time to spend one on one with them. Our of granddaughters is homeschooled and she comes here two days a week. I have a blast working on grammar, spelling and math. While my husband teaches spanish and does the science. We could not have a better job. Thanks for sharing this and affirming what I have thought all along.

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