Sally Flint

Exploring The Richness Of Intergenerational Friendships


I’ve always found a natural connection with people older than myself. Thinking back to years ago, as a newly qualified teacher, the invaluable advice from experienced colleagues and the camaraderie we shared were immensely enriching. Watching them do their family thing and being all content in their comfy houses – it was a bit like peeking into an unreachable but envied world of grown-up , especially when my own recently post-student life was more about budget noodles than comfort zones.

Skip ahead to the present, where I’ve got a cozy home and a delightful grown up family of my own. Guess what? I’m still all about those older pals. Nowadays, it’s mostly my mum’s crew. It’s a tad bittersweet, with my mum not being so well, but hanging out with her (now my) pals, is lovely. The wisdom shared by the older generation continues to be a treasured aspect of these connections. However, it’s not solely about seeking or offering advice; the generational gap often dissolves amid laughter, engaging conversations,  genuine connections and fun.

Interestingly, I’ve observed that I’m not alone in valuing these cross-generational relationships. In fact, I’ve collaborated on crafting a new health and fitness blog (don’t laugh -it’s not asking you to run a marathon or anything!!) with my 23-year-old friend, Samuel—a somewhat paradoxical but enlightening endeavor in light of my usual friendships with older people. This collaboration has, though, been part of what has prompted me to delve into why intergenerational friendships are so much fun and so valuable.

 This is what I think intergenerational friendships offer:

  1.  Diverse Perspectives: Inter-generational friendships provide exposure to different life experiences, values, and perspectives. This diversity can enrich one’s understanding of the world and foster a more open-minded approach to various issues.
  2. Knowledge Sharing: Older friends can share their wisdom and experiences, providing valuable insights and advice. This knowledge transfer can be particularly beneficial for younger individuals who are navigating various life stages.
  1. Emotional Support: Friends from different generations can offer unique forms of emotional support. Older friends may provide a sense of stability and understanding, while younger friends may bring energy, enthusiasm, and a fresh outlook on life.
  1. Skill Development: Interacting with individuals from different age groups can lead to the acquisition of new skills. Older friends might share traditional skills or knowledge, while younger friends may introduce new technologies and contemporary approaches.
  1. Reduced Ageism: Inter-generational friendships challenge stereotypes and diminish ageism by cultivating positive connections rooted in individual personalities rather than predetermined beliefs about specific age groups. While I may never share friend Pat’s views or acceptance of Boris, our conversations aim to broaden perspectives and update each other on politics and current events, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas.
  1. Shared Activities: Engaging in activities that bridge generational gaps, such as joining a choir as I’ve just done where I’ve palled up with older members, reinforces the bonds of cross-generational friendships. It’s as if, through shared hobbies and interests, we reconnect with aspects of our youth, forming a special connection that transcends generational boundaries. These shared experiences create a common ground that goes beyond age differences, providing rich opportunities for mutual enjoyment and fostering a sense of unity. 
  1. Increased Social Connectedness: Building friendships across generations not only expands your social network but also nurtures a sense of community. Diverse friendships bring about a richer social experience. It’s worth noting that forming connections across genders take out jealousy in marriage too!  My friend John who I connected with doing some shared charity work, keeps me updated with his dating   over shared lunches that my husband doesn’t mind me attending at all!

I’ve recently experienced the death of a dear friend, June, who passed away peacefully aged 92. Our connection initially came about as I knew her daughter, Fiona, a school friend of mine, whit whom I reconnected when I moved back to the UK.  While I acknowledge the profound sadness of this loss, June’s genuine interest in me and her indomitable spirit, enthusiasm for reading, despite her diminishing eyesight, created a unique bond. I believe June and my friendship stands as proof that intergenerational bonds truly bring joy. We often found delight in discussing audiobooks and setting the world to rights. This post is a heartfelt tribute to June, whose unwavering support, wry humor, boundless warmth, and true friendship I dearly miss. June’s legacy persists in the cherished memories of our shared moments—a tribute to the enduring impact of intergenerational friendships.

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