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It’s not always easy to make friends with those outside of your age group, at least for those who aren’t within your family network already. It’s a little odd for someone in middle-age to directly go out and meet young adults, and vice versa, even if there should be nothing wrong with people making friends of any age.

That’s why, from time to time, it’s good to challenge your usual preconceptions and not necessarily deter a relationship from forming if it’s on healthy grounds. Let’s say you live in an apartment complex with an elderly person across the way; helping them with their groceries, being a good neighbor, or inviting them in for tea can be a nice way to bond.

In fact, provided they’re healthy, friendships between different generations of people can be very beneficial for both parties. This is especially because as we mentioned, the organic opportunities for people to do so won’t always be present.

But what do these benefits look like? How are they expressed? In this post, we hope to discuss some of those, to perhaps inspire you to spend time cultivating them should they be available.

Learning & Growth

As Father Adam Park shows, when people of different cultures and age ranges bond together, they learn from one another anew. It’s very easy to be locked into the enthusiasm and seeming invulnerability of youth, as well as the calm patience of advanced years, and sometimes it’s best to take a dose from the other side to sustain your vigor, to calm you, or to look at things anew. Learning and growth come from different perspectives and worldviews, and it also helps you befriend people who you might not 100% agree with at all levels. As such, it’s worth your time to branch out and challenge your beliefs.

Community Help

Above we mentioned the favor that comes when helping the elderly, but you’d be surprised how intergenerational friendships can also assist in more ways than one. For example, a friendly neighbor might give their mid-20s friend suggestions as to how to keep up with their career, how to navigate relationship difficulties, and insight they’ve learned about what really matters, while the younger friend might be more than happy to help their older friend pull weeds in the garden. These tokens of friendship are not platitudes, they represent something many people have lost – community bonding and growth.

Limiting Ageism

It’s very easy to dismiss whole groups of people but the reality rarely runs along those lines. Gen Z isn’t solely stuck to their phones day in and day out, for example, and older people don’t believe everything they see on the television or read on Facebook. Limiting ageism can help you look at the person underneath the artificial marker and treat everyone the way they deserve to be treated – with respect and care. That doesn’t mean you have to like everyone different than you, but it does mean not neglecting them for artificial reasons. If more people felt that way, then the world would be a friendlier place.

With this advice, you’re certain to see and practice the full-scale benefits of having intergenerational friendships.

This is a contributed post.

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