The benefits of intergenerational relationships are many and great. Among the greatest of the great are a broader perspective, greater compassion, higher sensitivity to others’ needs as well as genuine f.u.n.
But a common question I hear from women who seek to form cross-generational bonds is HOW?
How do I connect with a woman of a different generation?
The differences between the generations are enough to make us uneasy. But often we are uncomfortable because we tend to overthink it and/or make assumptions about how the other woman will react. (Read: What Younger Women Wished Older Women Believed)
Over the years, as I’ve learned to push past my self-induced discomfort, I have amassed simple, easy and highly effective techniques to bridging the generation gap with a woman who is older or younger than me.
Let me share some of my favorites:
1. Invite her to coffee or dessert.
This is the tried and true method, for a reason. Taking time out of your day to get to know someone tells them, loudly, that you value them. Pray for your time together before you arrive and come prepared with several questions in mind designed to get to know her. Also, if you can swing it, pay for her treat, as an extra measure of grace.
2. Invite her over for dinner.
You’re going to be eating anyway. Might as well set an extra place. If she has a family, invite them too. Many people today, young and old, are lonely for this type of connection. You do not have to pull out all the stops for her. Be yourself, fix what you normally would fix and let it be authentically you. It will mean so much to her.
3. Bring her along on an outing.
Look for opportunities to include her in activities you already have planned. This can be especially meaningful if you’re going somewhere she has never been or doing something she had never done. My family and I have routinely invited young women to join us on trips to the zoo or other outings. My kids find meaning in the inclusion too.
4. Go for a walk.
This is the most common thing I personally do. Not only does it get me exercising, but it allows for ample time to get to know another woman. A young neighbor and I like to walk around the neighborhood when weather permits. Since she is new to the neighborhood, I can also introduce her to neighbors we see along the way.
5. Serve together.
This could be helping a neighbor together or inviting her into a service project you have planned. Or, ask her what causes have her heart and offer to help. Strong bonds can result from sharing a service experience together.
6. Read a book with her.
Together, choose a book. Read it on your own time and then get together to discuss. You will find value in learning from each other’s perspectives.
7. Watch a movie together.
Either in the theater or at home. Share your favorite movie of all time and ask her for hers. After you watch the movie, have a discussion around it. Again, you can learn a lot from each other’s perspectives.
8. Cook together.
She may want to glean from your culinary skills, or you may want to learn how to make her family’s “secret” recipe. Whether it’s baking or grilling or preparing a family dinner, love and life bloom with food.
9. Teach her a skill, or ask to learn a skill from her.
Perhaps it’s a life skill like changing a tire, ironing clothes or learning how to use Instagram. Perhaps it’s a craft of some kind, like sewing, woodworking, tile-laying, baking, landscaping, pottery or one of a hundred other possibilities. All of them offer inroads for connection.
10. Create with her.
Whether you are the creator or she is or you both have a creative streak, find an activity that you are both willing to do together to bring out your creative sides. Look up the list of local community center classes or art studio offerings. Do something just for fun or create something that can be donated.
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What’s your intergenerational story?
What intergenerational relationship has made a difference in your life?
A great way to honor this relationship the Lord has used to work in your life is to share the story with others! You never know whom your story will inspire and bless.
Tell me your story and it could appear here on the blog.