AWESOMEover60 is based on the idea that we are the “youngest older” generation in history, that as we age, we become mellow with a broader world view. But I’m finding that some older persons are quite set in their ways, becoming more rigid and narrow in their perspectives.
For example, it is disturbing that there is increased incidence of neighbors calling police because of the noise caused by teenagers playing ball in the street or on approved property. In Gainesville, FL, an officer responded this way: “We’re going to let kids be kids. We’re going to focus on the ones who commit crimes. #HoopsNotCrime.” Across the nation, officers are returning the next day with sports equipment and lessons about respecting neighbors by keeping the noise down and playing at appropriate hours.
In other places, older residents express annoyance at children playing in a community pool. Drivers are impatient with kids on bikes. All this while at the same time finding fault with youngsters who are glued to their cell phones, video games, computers, and TV shows,“They should be outside like we were!”
The Silent Generation, 1929-1945, and Baby Boomers, 1946-1964, deserve respect, and there are times, to be sure, when young people are offensive and rude. As AWESOMEover60’ers, we can take the lead in stretching a bit to understand what it’s like to be a young person today, particularly a teen. Especially now as summer approaches and more children will be in our midst, we have greater opportunity to interact. A structured inter-generational program is not needed to initiate this change. It just requires each of us to withhold judgment and criticism; to start a conversation, teach, guide.
Individually we have the ability to profoundly impact the course of a young person’s life. AWESOMEover60 is reaching out to caregivers: parents, grandparents, guardians, foster families, teachers, coaches, law enforcement, some of whom are also AWESOMEover60, to help us understand how to bridge the disconnect.
Living in a nation which is polarized on so many issues, let’s not add another divide: that between older persons and young people. Perhaps all that is needed to
co-exist, to enrich each other’s lives, is a significant attitude adjustment?
As summertime begins, we look forward to your comments. Thanks very much.