I suppose there are some who would argue with that statement from Proverbs, but scripture has more to say about those who are "advanced" in years. Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. (Lev. 19:32)
So why is it that so many avoid spending time with older folks? Why is their counsel often ignored or even mocked ... their stories ridiculed? I began asking myself that question as our children came along. We spent some time fellowshipping with a "multi-generational" church when our children were younger and found a community rich with life experience and a very natural interaction between young and old. Instead of focusing on why this lifestyle is uncommon, we simply began to integrate it into our own home, and have never regretted it.
Some of the ways we wove this generational mindset into our home and lives were simple to accomplish, others required some effort and even sacrifice. We began by having our children remain with us during the services at church. From the time they were infants they learned to sit quietly and eventually to listen and understand what was being taught. It wasn't always easy ... especially with a 2 year old bundle of energy! But they looked forward to sitting with the "big people" and benefited from the interaction with adults. When our oldest was 12 we moved into my family home and added an "in-law" apartment to the house. My children's grandparents have lived with us since that time and have been an important part of their growing up years. One of our daughters spent her high school years volunteering at a local medical center, which included working in the nursing home wing many weekends. She played cards with some of the older gentlemen, and did manicures and make-up for the older ladies.
I've watched our children grow to love this precious older saints. They listen patiently to their stories of "when I was your age...", respect the counsel they have to offer, and pray for them when they're sick or having a difficult day. Lest you think my kids are "saints" in all of this ... there have been days of grumbling and impatience with a grandparent who just doesn't "get it", or an older relative who makes you repeat everything because she can't hear. But as they grow older themselves, they appreciate more and more the value of time spent with this older generation.
You may not have older relatives nearby, but there are many ways to help your children learn to appreciate the "gray haired". Look for stories that emphasize the value of interaction between young and old. Sonlight has a number of titles that reinforce this concept ... In Grandma's Attic and More Stories From Grandma's Attic, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, Understood Betsy, and The Great and Terrible Quest, to name just a few. Check with a local nursing home to see if you might spend a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon visiting with some of their residents. Perhaps an elderly neighbor would appreciate having someone shovel her walk or mow her lawn. With just a little creativity, you will find many opportunities to introduce your children to a generation that has so much to offer, and their lives (and yours) will be richer for it.
Keep in mind, one of these days the mail will deliver your AARP card and you will become an official member of the gray haired crowd! How encouraging to know that at least your own children will appreciate you in your advanced years, and will perhaps follow your example by training their own children the value of what you have to offer.
Still on the journey ...
Sonlight Customer Champion