Haims: Fostering relationships between young and old in Eagle County (column)
Many of us living in Eagle County migrated here and left our parents and siblings elsewhere. We have uprooted our lives and sought out a place where similar values, lifestyles, philosophies and like minds are shared and treasured. While we embark on our careers and develop families, we should stop and recall our own development as children. Something is missing here in our community.
Where are our children’s grandparents?
When I grew up in Los Angeles, both sets of my grandparents lived within 30 minutes of my parents’ home. We often spent at least a couple weekends of the month visiting them. My dad’s father would often take my brothers and me to the Hollywood Bowl, where we were introduced to jazz and classical music. Other times, my grandparents took us to the beach, pool, parks and away from our parents, allowing them a reprieve.
A World Phenomenon
Within just one short generation, our family dynamics have changed so much. The frequency in which children grow up and stay within the community or state in which they grew up is not as widespread as it once was. This is not unique to those of us here in Eagle County or even the United States. It’s a world phenomenon. Modern technology and access to affordable travel now enable our youth the ease of separating their personal and professional lives.
For those of us who have moved here to Eagle County, we have made decisions of what’s important to us. However, it does not have to be a situation of have and have-not. Many of my contemporaries have had their parents move to the area. Some have asked their parents to come, and in other situations, the parents have just come. While having your parents too close is often the butt of many jokes, I see the situation working out quite well and even find myself a bit envious.
As recently noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association, our mountain communities have some of the country’s longest life expectancies. There are many reasons for Eagle County to foster the many baby boomers who live here and those who could migrate here, including the social and economic benefits of a community with a balance of age groups.
Bridging the Gap
We need to do a better job at fostering and creating opportunities to bridge the generational gap. Seniors have a wealth of knowledge to impart to the young. Our elders often have stories to tell and life lessons to share. As the young and the elderly learn from one another, a great kinship can be developed. Many studies have shown that children who grow up close to their grandparents are likely to feel more rooted and loved.
Perhaps we can teach our children a little about broadening their perception of “self.” As many children tend to be focused on immediate satisfaction, the present and think mainly about themselves, perhaps opportunities exist to have our community elders share stories that illustrate common life experiences and practical wisdom. When people learn and understand time, represented by the past, the present and the future, often they think beyond themselves.
The young and elder have a great opportunity to draw upon each other’s strengths.
I welcome anyone’s comments and suggestions on how we can better facilitate opportunities to bridge our community’s generations.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns.
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