Mindfully Becoming an Elder

by Robin Bush, ISR Communications

We are all familiar with the life steps of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, but as a culture, we have not acknowledged the phase of later adulthood: elderhood. Elderhood is quite different from the adult phase, full of growing careers, having families, and exploring what we want our lives to be. Elderhood is when we have much to share with those who have not encountered the experiences and lessons we have. They have much yet to learn, and although we are not experts, we have gained wisdom and have much to share. Times change, but the lessons that matter are timeless.

We know that generations that follow us don’t always welcome guidance or may feel our experiences from another time are irrelevant, but there are ways to open the door to share timeless lessons. There are some things to consider about being a good elder guide that build trust and open the doors to understanding:

  • Be kind – teach without criticizing
  • Be tolerant of their mistakes and be a guide back onto a better path
  • Listen, don’t judge. Walk in their shoes
  • Appreciate and acknowledge the differences between your generation and theirs
  • Show them, don’t tell them what to do
  • Let them take their journey – even if you foresee the challenges they will face, and you may wish to offer warnings, it is their life, and they get to choose their path.

Embrace your role as an elder. Celebrate the life you have led that has brought you wisdom worth sharing.