Friday, December 12, 2008

The young and the Old: Bringing them together

The Young and the Old: Bringing them together

Dr P Vyasamoorthy


·        My grandson runs away the moment I call him

·        My granddaughter thinks I am a bore

·        How will I escape that oldie today?

·        Pucca Bore, Yaar, my grandma.


These are common conversations heard among elders and kids. Kids feel that their grand parents are to b shunned. Senior Citizens feel they should be treated with respect, welcomed and be entertained with company and conversation; even it is just some petty small talk. Boys would not listen, leave alone respect. Girls will complain against grandpa or grandma to their mothers. What can be done to bring about amicability, tolerance and love? How to bridge the generation gap? Let us look at a few tips involving many sections of the society.

The best place to mould children and teach them to look at elders with sympathy, care and love is the school.  Andrew Shue, famous American film star, says: "I created an organization [when I was in High School] to help senior citizens. How many high school kids are out there helping senior citizens?" implying, not many.  As a part of "Moral Instruction" classes children may be shown how to help senior citizens. The School may give away prizes for the best student who cares for his grand parents. Local Senior Citizen Associations can institute such prizes by funding the same. During the Annual Day of the School Children may be encouraged to take a suitable pledge that all through their lives they will be "senior friendly" and helpful. Boy Scouts and Girl Guides may be given special exercises in helping old people: Helping them cross the road in a busy junction, running small errands, accompanying them to the hospital, help them get into buses etc. School Magazines may encourage small articles or stories that talk of intergenerational gap and the importance of taking to elders kindly.

Senior Citizens Associations and NGOs working for seniors and Elders them selves can do a lot in bridging the generation gap. Senior citizens Association can adopt a school. 'Senior Citizens Forum' in Secunderabad, for instance has adopted a school where the parents are poor. Whenever members of this Forum go on picnics or tours, some half a dozen kids from the school are also taken along free of cost. This brings about unimaginable benefits as it enhances the perception of senior citizens among children, teachers and parents. Senior Citizens can engage the children in the school by telling stories about culture, mythology, history etc. They can also volunteer as teachers, supplementing regular teachers. As stories attract children, this voluntary engagement is likely to improve relationships. Indirectly they may pick up stories where kids are appreciated for caring about their elders.

Many newspapers and magazines devote special sections for school children. The Saturday Supplement of The Hindu – Young World – is an example. Suitable stories about kids caring for elders may be published. If they are written by children out of their own experience it is all the more better.

Government of India intends building an "Integrated Homes" in every district. This is intended to be an Old Age Home, an orphanage, a Primary school and a home for destitute and disabled, all in the same compound or complex. Keeping diverse persons under one roof will bind these communities to come together increasing interdependency.

As I have always been asking, if you have more ideas, please share them with all of us.

[Tags: Intergenerational gap, Generation gap, Senior citizens]





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