What can we learn from different generations

Exchange between generations - learning from others


Basics - What are the benefits of learning from other generations?

Discussions often arise when the different generations of a family spend time together, and everyone does not always agree. On the other hand, such meetings can also have positive effects on all sides through a learning effect. This includes, among other things:

  • Understanding for the other generation
  • Broadening the worldview and knowledge horizon
  • Ease of everyday life
  • Family cohesion

The understanding of the other generation, be it for behavior in everyday life as well as for certain attitudes, can be improved. In an open meeting, everyone has the opportunity to express their views and explain themselves. This may help you understand why your child likes computer games, and your child, in turn, why you or the grandparents are often less comfortable with them.

There is also the possibility of expanding the worldview. Whether it's historical from another time or the latest trends in the modern world: there are seldom opportunities to learn something about the unknown in such detail as directly from people who have experienced it or are very familiar with it.

Last but not least, the learning effect can make everyday life easier. The “experts” of the other generation give you and the rest of your family access to facts and things that you would otherwise find difficult to understand. This includes, for example, various devices and technologies that the younger generation no longer knows or older generations do not yet.

Last but not least, learning can also strengthen family cohesion. On the one hand, certain activities and topics may become common ground between the generations. In addition, learning from others creates shared memories and a growing bond.

Learning from private family history

There are opportunities for all generations to learn from private family history. This applies equally to several levels. On the one hand on an emotional one: the family history shows younger people its origins, so to speak. So it can be very helpful in personal development.

On the other hand, the private stories can provide orientation for important questions. There may be people in the family who have been or are successful in a particular field. These too often had to take on a lot for this. The path could be a kind of blueprint for younger generations.

Particularly realistic memories

The "contemporary witnesses" of the family history can be helpful contacts here. The personal experience of certain facts and stories from various periods of time makes learning about the history of one's own family more lively. The stories can possibly be accompanied by objects, for example certificates, texts or photos.

The latter in particular give a clear picture in the truest sense of the word. While stories only stimulate the imagination, photos can arouse special emotions. For example, children and grandchildren have the opportunity to see their parents and grandparents when they are younger. An image that is formative for the development of personality as well as for a knowledge of one's own origin in many people.

There are many options for your family to structure the memory and make it into something beautiful. This includes sorting the photos in a photo book. The family pictures can get a special shine through modern printing forms.

It can be a great activity for the whole family to digitally process older and newer photos in this way and to create a very own visual family story. In addition, you divide the family history into phases and chapters, which are given special significance.

Family history as part of the subject

In addition, there are other things that the younger generation in particular can learn from family history. This includes, for example, general historical developments.

This can be of help in history lessons for children and young people. Both the parents and the grandparents have seen important moments of the last decades in the appropriate time live. So you have the opportunity to report important details from your memories and thus make the subject more exciting.

Perhaps the contemporary witnesses even have a personal connection to certain events, for example if they have contributed an important part to the family history. Certain historical events may be easier to remember if they are given a personal touch and a point of identification is created.

Learning from parents and grandparents - career path

An important factor in a person's life is professional orientation. This can be quite difficult for adolescents and young adults due to the many possibilities and uncertainties.

Here the parents and grandparents have the opportunity to be of great help:

  • Support with tips, ideas and contacts for the professional path
  • Role model function
  • Possible entry into the family business

Tips, ideas and contacts

It is fundamentally important that you support your children with advice and action when choosing a career. This can consist in discussing the important cornerstones of everyday working life as early as possible.

The role as a source of ideas for the professional path can, however, go beyond that. Perhaps the grandparents also have suggestions? It is possible that the older generations recognize talents in a young person that he or she are not yet aware of.

In some cases parents or grandparents have contacts who can help with a career start. By making use of these relationships, the young people can at the same time recognize and internalize the high relevance of the proverbial "vitamin B" in various areas of life.

Role model function

Furthermore, parents or grandparents can serve as role models with their professional path. In some cases, young people realize that they have similar career aspirations.

There is then the opportunity to provide special advice and assistance: you and your grandparents are experts in the relevant field. This gives you the option of accompanying every part of the career, at least at the beginning, and providing a high level of orientation.

Entry into the family business

Another option that enables particularly extensive learning from other generations in the professional sector is to join a family business, if one exists. Their share in Germany is large: 90 percent of all active companies are family businesses.

In this context, your children have various options for learning for their professional life. These include:

  • first experience as part of a part-time job or internship
  • Completion of vocational training
  • Entry into the world of work after graduation

Young people in particular can gain their first experience on the job market in the proverbial protected environment in their parents' company and receive comprehensive support from you. Completing vocational training in your parents' company is another viable option, and it lays a solid foundation for your entire working life.

Ultimately, entry into a career can be made easier with a degree that suits the company in question. This is a great help, especially in times when graduates often find it difficult to find their first job. The step can either be the basis for a professional development or for a later takeover of the family business.

When it comes to tips and ideas, as well as being a role model or joining a family business, it should be taken into account that this should correspond to the will of the children and should be done voluntarily. Unintentional influence can have negative consequences and may even make the offspring unhappy.

Is it also the other way around?

In some cases, not only can the children learn from you and their grandparents, but also the other way around. There may be technical developments that your children have already mastered in everyday life and that will advance you in your daily work.

The same goes for the grandparents. In some cases, they are already retirees. However, there are people in this group of people who, for various reasons, still do smaller jobs: In 2018 there were a little less than 1.5 million in Germany. So it is not unlikely that grandpa or grandma can learn something from the grandson that will help him or her with the sideline job.

Learning from parents and grandparents 2: Everyday life earlier

Another exciting journey through time for your children with many insights for their own life can be a look at everyday life in past decades. How did people live in the past, what was different? There may even be elements that the children would like to use in their own lives. The exciting areas include:

  • Technology earlier
  • School and studies in previous years
  • Social and hobbies

Technology used to be

It can be exciting for young people to learn about the technical possibilities of past decades. These include, for example, entertainment electronics or telecommunications devices.

Before the era of smartphones and the internet, these were a lot more limited. Still, your children might enjoy the unique sound of a vinyl record. There is also the option of using stories from a time before the smartphone to provide inspiration for slowing down everyday life that may be good for your children, whether younger or older.

Studies in previous years

Everyday school or university life in earlier years and decades can also be instructive for young people. Some time ago, books played an even greater role in studies, far less was done digitally.

In addition, instead of the bachelor and master system, there was a master's degree or diploma. The students sometimes had less time pressure. All of this changed drastically with the Bologna reform that was initiated in 1999. The stories from earlier years could show your children at university how much they accomplish in their everyday lives and create greater self-confidence.

Social and hobbies

Hobbies in earlier decades are also fundamentally different from today's. Your children are likely to have leisure activities, at least in part using digital media. This includes computer games, for example. Studies show that physical activity is becoming rarer today.

It can be all the more inspiring for the children to hear from you or their grandparents about how you spent your free time as a young person. Perhaps you will find the in or other activity, be it at home or in the great outdoors, that your offspring can be enthusiastic about. This includes, for example, playing football, riding a bike, many other sports or simple board games.

Learning from parents and grandparents 3: Mastering difficult life situations

Life offers various ups and downs. This applies to you as well as to your parents and your children. With a little life experience, these are often easier to classify and manage. Such situations, along with a few others, can include:

  • Problems at school or university
  • Problems in friendships or relationships
  • Problems at work

When it comes to their own problems, the younger generations can learn primarily from the life experiences of older family members. These people may have experienced the same or at least something similar.

On the one hand, they can provide advice and assistance. This means that you or your grandparents know from your own experience solutions to the problem in question, which your children can implement in one way or another. Another learning effect often occurs here: If a similar situation occurs again, the offspring already has a tried and tested solution in the back of their minds.

Furthermore, in many cases it becomes clear that crises can be overcome faster and more easily than it might seem to the person concerned. This fact alone can be of help in difficult situations.

Learning from the children and grandchildren: Technical innovations

Not only the younger generation can learn from the older generation, it also works the other way around. This is possible in many areas of everyday life, especially in the technology sector. Children and young people are mostly up to date in this regard, on the one hand because of their environment, and on the other, often because of the demands of the school. Some of the technical areas that young people are particularly familiar with include:

  • Smartphones and related applications
  • Knowledge of computers
  • Video and computer games

Smartphones and related applications

You probably have a smartphone yourself; some seniors are also familiar with this technology. If not, older people can learn a lot about it from the younger generations and broaden their horizons.

Your children are sure to be familiar with a multitude of apps that are helpful to adults. Last but not least, there is the possibility of using apps to connect families and facilitate communication, for example via messenger services such as WhatsApp. After a short and relatively simple learning process, the grandparents can discover a whole new world and send voice messages to you or their grandchildren.

Knowledge of computers

Furthermore, you and your parents may be able to use the children to expand your knowledge of computers. In many cases, the younger generation in particular is particularly keen on all kinds of digital topics.

Even grandparents can certainly learn and enjoy a lot in the world of the Internet. On YouTube, for example, there are many collages of pictures and films from cities in earlier years, some even in color. This awakens nice memories: a real enrichment of everyday life.

Many grandchildren can also provide simple tips and tricks for dealing with everyday PC problems. This makes everyday life in the world of computers a lot easier.

Video and computer games

Video and computer games can also be of interest to you or your parents. It is not for nothing that there is a trend that increasingly people outside of childhood and adolescence can become enthusiastic about this world. Access to computer games can even have positive health effects for the older generation.

Furthermore, this can create a closer bond within the family. Video games become a common hobby that is great fun for all family members in their free time.

Learning from the children and grandchildren 2: Making everyday life easier

Last but not least, there are many ways to make everyday life easier for you and your parents. The children may have some ideas and a knowledge advantage in this regard.

Ease of everyday life through the Internet

Some of these options can be found on the Internet. This way, both you and your children can show the grandparents how to order things online. This saves time and effort and still allows a large selection.

Not only the way to purchase various items is saved in this way. Booking train or bus tickets online can also make everyday life easier for seniors.

Other things that make everyday life easier

But there may also be aids in some other areas. Many of these options are achieved through technological advances, and some you can teach your parents about yourself.

An ideal example of this is the kitchen: Over time, various simplifications have been developed in this area that can make food preparation easier, especially for seniors. This includes, for example, the Thermomix: the pot cooks by itself in just a few steps.

There are also a number of other simplifications for cooking. In the area of ​​housework, too, new developments are constantly emerging that make life easier for older people in particular, such as vacuum robots. Ultimately, you can even set up a smart home for your parents and make many aspects of everyday life easier at once.


The diverse examples show: The generations within a family can mutually enrich everyday life and learn a lot from each other. This applies to both the younger and older family members. Furthermore, the learning processes can lead to the family growing closer together.