The elder cannot be an elder if there is no community to make [them]... an elder. The young child cannot feel secure if there is no elder, whose silent presence gives [them]... hope in life. The adult cannot be who [they are] unless there is a strong sense of the other people around. — M.P. Som?n Ritual Power, Healing, and Community (Portland, Oregon: Swan/Raven & Co., 1993)
IN TODAY'S SESSION...
While our society tends to segregate us by age, our congregations can be places where multigenerational living and learning can happen. This session guided participants to appreciate multigenerational experiences from multiple ages' perspectives and to plan a congregational activity for all ages.
Participants reflected on idea that they, themselves, are a particular age. They explored their own and others' age-related characteristics and interests.
The story, "The Children's Crusade," provided a Civil Rights-era lens to examine different ways children and adults can contribute to a shared purpose. The story describes how children joined protests in Birmingham, Alabama , in 1963 despite concerns of many adults.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about...
Share stories about multigenerational events you participate in, such as family/friends vacations, congregational events or public events. Invite each person to talk about what they like or don't like about an event and the ways in which they find it meaningful. Encourage your child to articulate anything they may have learned about the traits or concerns of their own age group, yours and others.
Invite your child to tell you about the Children's Crusade. Share observations about how children and adults together made a difference. Help your child keep their commitment this week to notice the gifts of someone of a different age.
EXTEND THE TOPIC. Try...
Affirm regular multi-age connections for you and your child. Calculate the time your child spends in age-segregated activities, and try to balance it with activities in which they engage with people of diverse ages. Together you might develop a chart to record, for one week, each person's interactions with various ages.
To broaden the age ranges in which your family interacts, you might volunteer together to care for or teach younger children or older adults. Visit a neighbor with older children, younger children, or no children. Commit to participating in an activity or event at your congregation that is already intergenerational.
A FAMILY RITUAL
Before one meal each week, light candles, hold hands and invite each member of the family to name a friend or family member not of the same age and not present. End with these words:
With all of these people in our hearts and minds we are in communion.
A FAMILY GAME
The game Do As I Say is fun for all ages to play together. One person starts the game by repeating a simple action, such as patting their head or tapping a foot, but saying something different, such as "I am making a fist." Everyone has to repeat the statement each time the leader says it, but do the action the leader is doing. The first person the leader catches doing or saying the wrong thing becomes the new leader. If the leader gets mixed up first, they choose someone else to be the new leader. Younger children may need help with what to say but often find "opposite" motions easier to negotiate than adults. Older participants may like help thinking of a simple action to perform.
Make a family photo album/scrapbook with the theme All Ages Have Particular Gifts. Include photos of different-aged people, both friends and family, doing what they enjoy most or spend most time doing. Organize the album by age. Or, use photos that include multiple generations in shared activities. Use scrap-booking items found at office supply or craft stores to enhance the theme.