Gramma Speaks: Cultivating Cross Generational Relationships

On the continuum of motherhood, I am smack dab in the middle. Well, kinda. I have 4 adult children and 5 that are in the category of high school, middle school and elementary. This means that I have graduated from diapers, potty training and preschool. So on one hand I could be considered an expert and yet for some phases (like parenting adult children) I’m just a beginner.

When I started this blog, it was with the vision of becoming an “older woman”. I imagined that somewhere along the way I had probably picked up enough tricks and tips to help encourage the younger generation. As I sat chatting with my mother-in-law the other day, I was “wowed” by her clarity, explanation, and advise concerning a situation. Turning to her I said, “I’m totally going to forget everything you said. Will you go write it down?” Because though in some ways I am an older woman, I also need an older woman to learn from.

We Have Different Communication Styles

There is always someone older and wiser! We always have room to learn. However, we aren’t always in the right place at the right time to make it happen like I was when sitting in the car that day with my mother-in-law.

I have noticed such a generational disconnect in the practice of sharing mothering advice. I don’t think there’s anyone to blame. We just have such different cultural communication styles. Often, we are not in the same place at the same time with open schedules to sit and talk. Time and opportunity are necessary to make that information transfer from one generation to the next.

Where Do Young Moms Go For Advice?

As a Christian mom, the ultimate goal would be to go to Scripture for parenting advice. I don’t think any believer would doubt that the Word of God is the richest parenting resource available to us. So often though, we need practical tips, advice and encouragement to point us to scripture. I think that is where the Titus 2 model is so important. Younger women soaking in the teaching from older women.

As a young mom, we search for articles online, blogposts, YouTube and Pinterest. There are SO MANY great ideas out there! We aren’t trying to replace older women… these resources are just so easily accessible, day or night. But when we get into the habit of going to them, we may be overlooking the rich resource of the older woman down the road or sitting in the next row at church.

 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

Job 12:12

Where Do Older Women Go To Connect?

On the other end of the spectrum, the older women are often not online. Those in their 50’s, 60’s and beyond have historically cultivated their relationships by calling each other on the phone or attending events together. This generation often adheres to social graces that were learned when they were young. Things like, not calling after 9pm and not giving advice unless it is asked for.

As a result, older women may go to events and wait for our calls not realizing that there is a better way to reach out to us. Technology is a steep learning curve when you’re older. Managing the devices and apps is overwhelming for many and there is a true fear of unintentionally breaking things and doing something wrong with these methods. Often the older women are resigned to keep to themselves, not because they want to but because they feel obsolete like the 8-track tapes or cassette player they once had.

So How Can We Nurture Connections?

Typically, older women are happy to invest in the lives of younger women. We watch as the younger women navigate their education, careers, fall in love and then start a family. We wish that we could connect and be their cheerleaders along the way. But the conversation is so hard to start. Why is it so hard to start?

As someone in the middle,(48 years old) I can tell you, it is hard to be a younger woman and equally as hard to be an older woman.

As a younger woman, I am intimidated by pushing my life onto an older woman. I fear that they are too busy, that they won’t want to talk to me, or that they will be disappointed in me as they see my neediness. I want them to see me as strong and able, not weak and unfit. But I need them.

As an older woman, I am intimidated by implanting myself into the life of a young woman. I fear that they are too busy, that they won’t want to talk to me, or they will be disappointed in me as they see my past mistakes. I want to encourage them, to pour into their lives if they need help but, since they haven’t asked, I assume that they don’t need me. Or don’t want me. But I need them, too.

Do you see the disconnect? The fear that drives us, ultimately keeping us apart? Do you see that this is actually an enemy plan to break the chain in a beautiful picture God has prepared for us? The older women are to teach the younger. It is what He had in mind as He created mankind.

Be Bold. Start Somewhere. Connect.

I know it is impossible to singlehandedly change the world. We can each however, do something.

I am reaching out to older women and asking you to share. Maybe you have someone near to you that has caught your eye. Use the reading of this as a prompt to go and talk. Sure, it may be awkward but only for a moment. I also want to ask you to join me in another bold step. Write to me. I want to hear your words of wisdom. I know that God has done incredible things in your life. You have gained wisdom along the way and you have so much to give. Technology is a new game but it is where the young women are.

I want to extend an invitation to older moms to join me in a “column” called “Gramma Speaks”. If you will reach out to me, I can take your words of wisdom and encouragement then format them into a blog post to reach the younger generation. I’m working on my social media skills (good thing I still have teens at home!) and will be missional in bringing young women over into this space to hear your heart. You can hit the contact button on my blog or email me at pamrfields@gmail.com. We can even set up a time to call on the telephone if that works best for you. If you live near enough, let’s go to coffee! I can’t wait to glean from you!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16 ESV

To the younger women, come back often! I’m so excited to share this place with women who have gone before us and are willing to pour into us. If you have an older woman in your circle of friends or acquaintances that you think is amazing….. tell her and then, tell me. Better yet, print this off and hand it to her. Send it to her via snail mail. Perhaps even use this opportunity to call her on the phone (just don’t do it after 9 pm). This is an opportunity to rise up and bless an older woman. Let her know that her life has influenced you and that you hope that she will share with others.

Oh my goodness. I’m just so excited about this! Who’s with me??

Younger women, seek out! Older women, speak out!

If you would like to read more about mentoring and Titus 2 relationships, check out these posts! Women Encouraging Women, Mothering Parties, and Connecting The Generations

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