“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.” George s. Patton.
What is your communication style, and how can it keep you sharp mentally?
Today, many methods of interaction do not even require people to come together, such as reading this text. Granted, communicating could be frustrating, especially when you spend 20 minutes on a phone call and then get disconnected, or when you try phoning someone who doesn’t pick up the phone, even when you know it is in his hand. How many times have you spent far too long re-reading texts that just don’t seem to make sense? What about the frustration of finding out vital information on Facebook! So, how do we get back to the art of conversation?
Don’t succumb to technology to speak with your grandchildren. Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had not had the opportunity to reach people with his speeches. Words add joy to celebrations, inspire friends, and impress grandchildren– even when we think they are not listening.
If you have lived for 40, 60, or 100 years, you certainly have a lot to say. As my dad would say, “Listen to this old man, I’ve been around.” We have experience and a perspective on the important things in life. We have witnessed much, and have hopefully acquired an optimistic view on aging.
Growing up, many baby boomers were told, “Children should be seen and not heard.” For some, it has taken years to unlearn that philosophy. The “Silent Generation” of our parents’ age held their privacy in great regard. For whatever reason, secrecy was dominant, and much important family history was either lost, or passed on only once old age liberated their minds.
Talk to your grandchildren, but don’t ask the standard questions like, “How’s school?” You’ll get the standard answers like, “Fine.” Instead, begin with something more creative like, “Tell me something good (or silly, or sad) that happened today, or “What superhero or cartoon character does your teacher remind you of?” Chat casually, talk about the lunchroom or the bus, and try to get a full picture of their social lives. While you’re talking, give them the lowdown on your school days. Even better, their dad’s or mom’s school days. Kids love to hear stories about their own parents as children.
Seize every opportunity for speaking your mind – it is a good brain workout. My mother used to talk politics with her grandchildren. Although she never voted in 84 years, she had interesting opinions from watching the news all day. She also kept up with celebrity gossip, which always impressed her grown grandchildren.
Listen to other people’s opinions, and you will always continue to learn. When someone is truly interested in your point of view, consider it a gift, a compliment. Show respect for the young ones, and they will value you.
Need icebreakers? Speak hypothetically. Clichéd questions from our youth, such as: “What would you do with a million dollars?” are new to kids. Turn it into a writing game for a great way to be creative and practice math! Their answers will give you a window into their hearts and minds.
Of the four essential human freedoms, the first is the freedom of speech. Speak your mind, and be a good role model for the grandkids.
By Staten Islander Marianna Randazzo, author, educator, and grandmother.