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The Importance of Navigating Intergenerational Relationships 

Two groups focusing on navigating intergenerational relationships have recently been added at the Mayerson JCC. What is the benefit of these groups and why are they needed? Louis Liner, a social worker in the 60 & Better department at the J, oversees these programs and explains their importance below. 

Why does the J offer these kinds of programs? Did you see a need in the community?  

Life is a series of transitions and people’s needs are always changing, as are relationships. What is especially difficult are the family relationships. We went from being taken care of to taking care of our parents and sometimes our own children at the same time (the sandwich generation). When I began working at the J, I initially had people from both generations seek me out for guidance as to how to handle these relationships, and to learn what their rights are as either/both a child and a parent. It was apparent that there is a need for these types of groups, and we are still just hitting the tip of the iceberg (as far as people who could benefit). 

Why is it important to foster intergenerational relationships?  

Why isn’t it? These relationships are the ones that all other relationships grow out of and usually are the longest lasting and most permanent relationships in our lives. These relationships are what our children are going to see. We are modeling behaviors for our children, and they are learning from us.  What do we want them to learn? Do we want them to learn positive communication skills and caring problem-solving skills, or do we want to teach them maladaptive behaviors that will continue for generations?   

What do the groups focus on? (Adult Children of Aging Parents and Parents of Adult Children).  

They focus on the individuals in the group. No two groups are the exact same; however, we make sure that everyone who attends has the opportunity to participate if they want and receive/give feedback as to how they might handle a particular situation, while not losing sight of taking care of themselves.    

How have you seen it create community?  

The members who participate feel part of a community and supported. I have heard from many of them that they do not feel alone, in that there are others who are going through what they are going through (to a varying degree). Participants see the spectrum of need and how they are handling it.   

Any other advice to someone thinking about joining one of these groups?  

It’s an hour and a half once a month and it is an open group, which means there is no start and no end, no agenda, so there is never a wrong time to start attending or a wrong time to stop.  

Anything else you would want to add? 

Nobody needs to do this alone. Most people are not trained in what to do or what to expect.  These groups are both educational and supportive. Not everybody needs assistance, but some people do. Aren’t you and your family worth it?   

Cross training. Young woman exercising with dumbbells.

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