Many of us complain about not being able to connect with our parents when we were growing up, but it is never too late to connect with the different generations in your life. All it takes is the desire to do so and a little creativity!
I wrote a book to find my father, but found so much more. Through my father’s tapes I found the man none of us knew, finding myself within the family I thought I knew. After listening to his tapes our relationship went to another level, I mean, while I was cutting school he was blowing up his school!
Here are some tips to get the different generations of your family connect with each other:
Stop Judging! This is the difficult part, but once we decide to connect with our elders or our youngsters, we have to leave our past relationship habits behind. We have to convince ourselves to meet the person we don’t know from scratch to make possible for everyone to open up, find common ground, and enjoy the ride!
Take the initiative and Open up! Make it happen. Whether you have a conversation with your Grandparents, parents, or children over tea, coffee, or French fries, just make it happen. Sometimes all it takes sharing one of your funny experiences for the others to follow your lead. If they don’t open up quickly, no worries, just keep trying, make spending time and sharing yourself a new habit of your relationships and they will come around. 3) Arm yourself! Use tapes, scrapbooks, journals, games, anything to get the stories. Then get creative by letting your subjects participate on recording their lives, memories, and special moments. Author Susan Violante wrote a book from her father’s tapes, and now joins her at some speaking events. 4) Squeeze your Creative Juices! You could start your mother-daughter journal, make scrapbooks and exchange them between yourselves, video tape your son interviewing his grandfather, or tape a game where family generations compete against each other during a family get together or the Holidays.
Finally, don’t think it’s too late! Sometimes some of our loved ones leave us before we are able to connect. I never knew the strength my Grandmother had; I wish I knew she hid her Jewish babysitter when I saw her the last time in Italy. Can you imagine the conversation I could have had with her? But now I know thank to my conversations with my father, and I can share that with my kids. You can still get to know them through the information you find in pictures, videos, journals, or recollections from other family members.
Don’t Forget Technology! Facebook, My Space, Story Corps, Ancestry.com, just to name a few, are great to get in touch with long lost relatives, and uncover your origins. Use Technology to connect us to our reality by discovering your origins, not just to create a virtual life!