Having friends in our same group is a given; Many of us are still in touch with our school or college mates, thanks to the thriving social media. It’s good to have these friendships going as the people we have grown up with are perhaps the best to share and discuss issues with. Many seniors also treat their children and grandchildren as friends and share a great relationship with them. But how many intergenerational friends do we have with whom we can share things or have fun outside of the family circle?
Is it necessary to have any such friends at all, or is it even possible? Are the young interested in having friendships with seniors? Do such friendships help either party in any way? This is an interesting aspect of our social setup that has not been explored much, and yet at times, we do see it happening around us. Many seniors strike up a friendship with some youngsters whom they meet, say while walking in the park or picking up grocery, etc. Here are some interesting pointers that will help you understand the goodness of such intergenerational friendships.
These Movies Said It!
Two examples, one from Bollywood and one from Hollywood, give us a wonderful perspective of the possibilities of having intergenerational friendships. A very successful movie of 2003 called Baghban brought to screen many aspects about the life of a senior couple, played by Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini. It touched upon the reality of many children being reluctant to pick up the responsibility of looking after their old parents and some associated issues. However, it also beautifully brought to life an interesting aspect about how a senior strike up friendships with young people he meets in a cafe regularly. To the extent that he even grooves with them on Valentine’s Day! It also showed how a senior could benefit from the young outlook on life and can, in turn, help them with some wisdom when required.
Another great movie that makes for an engaging watch on this subject is The Intern. In this movie, a retired Ben Whittaker played by the great actor Robert De Niro ends up with a young start-up owner Jules, played by Anne Hathaway. The young start-up environment is totally different from what Ben had seen and experienced all his working life. Jules simply had no idea why she wanted a senior intern or how to handle him. The movie beautifully shows how Ben goes about finding his way within the young group, especially ending up as a confidante of Jules. He ends up helping her with not just her professional issues but also personal ones. And while at it, he also gets to see and learn how the young think and work differently and finds some new excitement in his life in the process.
Up Your Learning
When you make friends with people who belong to a different generation, you will learn to look at the work from their perspective. It’s a huge learning opportunity, according to the studies on this subject. The seniors get to learn about the latest trends, outlook, technology and more. This may well help them do better with a few of their own relationships too. The young benefit immensely from the wisdom and experience of the seniors. It also gives them a different perspective about the world and the problems they encounter.
As these intergenerational friendships grow, there is much scope for growth as individuals, picking up new things, helping people around, and strengthening relationships. You could join some classes with them; you could try out some new ideas with them, and so on. They could even help you reach out to a wider audience to share your inputs and skills as well. You may also end up doing some things which you might otherwise have not, but are quite happy about it.
You don’t have to take our word for it! Evidence from a survey on this topic says, 61% of people who had significantly older friends mentioned these intergenerational friends helped them understand different perspectives. The same was said by 54% of seniors with significantly younger friends.
Making Friendships Resilient
Intergenerational friendships are said to be more resilient, as it is backed by the acceptance and understanding of different perspectives from either side. Every struggle and setback can be discussed and looked at differently, making them more acceptable and less permanent. You learn to rely and trust on such differing views that help you get through life a little easier. Thus, these friendships become more resilient as there is an element of trust and empathy that is weaved in.
Opening Our Minds
Most often, our personal relationships suffer because of our biases and generational gaps. Intergenerational friendships help us bridge these issues and open up our minds and remove our biases. It helps us understand people and situations better, and we may be willing to show more acceptance and tolerance where required. Also, it helps break the societal myth of such friendships as unsuccessful or improbable.