Grocery store waiting lines can be an opportunity to learn about human nature. Recently, I overheard a conversation between two age 40 somethings. They wanted to have a closer relationship with Grandma and Grandpa but didn’t know how to talk with them. “After all, they just don’t understand our generation.”
Stifling a knowing smile (or some would call it a smirk) was not easy while listening to that conversation. Every generation says the same thing about the preceding generation. Modern technology, such as social media, has increased the ongoing lack of understanding between our lengthy background of experiences and their modern day understandings.
Later that day I turned my thoughts to the event at the grocery store to consider what questions could be asked so the generational gap would be an opportunity to learn, grow and love. The biggest challenge starts with what to ask, then comes the important tests of listening and understanding.
Writers often ask for story starters ideas, so they won’t fall into the trap of feeling blocked without anything to write. The same premise applies to conversation starters to bridge the generational gap. Spread the questions out over many, many, many visits. Be prepared to always ask a question when visiting with grandparents.
During a visit, if no one asks the silver sages (seniors) about their lives, talk about yourself, when you have a willing audience. Organize your thoughts around one issue, then be prepared to present your story and your feelings. Keep the conversation brief to open the door to questions and discussions.
Another way to bridge the generational gap is to turn the generic questions into your own memory book to answer them for yourself and for future generations, even if they don’t ask for answers today.
Example questions to ask silver sages (adult senior citizens)
1. What did you like to do for fun when you were a kid? Did you play outside in the yard? Hobbies?
2. What do you like to do for fun now? How have your interests changed?
3. What was your favorite food when you were a kid? What is your favorite food today?
4. What songs did you like when you were a teenager? What songs do you like the best today?
5. How did you meet your spouse or significant other? Was it love at first site?
6. What is your favorite holiday? Why?
7. Were you a book reader and/or a writer when you were in school? What was your favorite subject in school?
8. What was a happiest moment of your life so far? How did it change your life?
9. What was a sad moment in your life? How did it affect your life?
10. The past cannot be changed. However, if it could be changed is there anything you would do differently?
11. When did you buy your first car? Describe the car. How much did you pay for gasoline during that time frame?
Life is a journey to be treasured.