Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Years Apart, Close at Heart

Shira Yehudit Djalilmand

Most of us relate best to those around the same age and stage as we are. But once in a while, two individuals separated in age by decades develop a close relationship. These cross-generational friendships offer unique benefits — and challenges — on both sides.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

“Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.”

 

This classic quote rings true for people in friendships that have crossed the lines of generations. Tight-knit bonds can spring up in the most surprising pairs or unexpected settings: a former student and teacher, a distant great-aunt and great-niece, or just someone you met at your exercise class. Age doesn’t have to be a barrier to forming a close and equal relationship; in fact, much like cheese, the age difference sometimes makes the relationship that much richer.

 

Cross Generation, Cross Culture

What is the bigger picture of cross-generational friendships? Are certain age combinations more or less common? Have these types of friendships become more or less common throughout the years — and if so, why? Are women more likely than men to form friendships with people from another generation?

Unfortunately, few reliable statistics are available on the types and nature of friendships between people of widely varying ages, says Jon F. Nussbaum, PhD, coauthor of the book Intergenerational Communication across the Life Span. Still, a little investigation gives a rather clearer picture. Such friendships seem to often sprout either in synagogue clubs or Christian groups. It seems reasonable to suggest that these groups, which emphasize religion, shared moral values, and family — all of which provide a strong basis for respect between the generations — encourage friendships among like-minded people, regardless of age.

Who you befriend depends on who you come in contact with. In many Western countries, social spaces tend to be generation specific. Outside of family, you’ll rarely find a 20-something having coffee with someone in their 70s. People of different ages tend to feel they have little in common — a recent survey in the British newspaper the Guardian (see sidebar) showed both younger and older people feel a disconnect between their generations.

In contrast, in Mediterranean countries such asCyprus,Portugal, and theMiddle East, people of all ages have more opportunity to meet socially. This may be a result of the more open, family-oriented culture in such countries, which creates an atmosphere of greater familiarity and respect between the generations.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Using Our Free Will Effectively
Yonoson Rosenblum The image we carry of ourselves is key
Pitcher-Perfect
Eytan Kobre The ripple effects of one Jew’s kiddush Sheim Shamayim
Living the High Life
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger It is exhilarating to matter, to be truly alive
It’s Time for Us to Speak Up
Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie We must speak out proudly for the values of Yiddishkeit
Kiruv Is Not Dead
Rabbi Meir Goldberg Do these sound like uninspired or closed students?
Frosting on the Cake
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman “Let’s not let a missing chocolate cake ruin our siyum!”
A Warm Corner in Flatbush
Yosef Zoimen It was a simple shul with a choshuve leader
Out of Control
Jacob L. Freedman “That’s illegal, Dr. Fine. I can’t have a part in this”
Song of Reckoning in the Skulener Court
Riki Goldstein “It’s awe-inspiring to watch the Rebbe sing this song”
“U’teshuvah, U’tefillah, U’tzedakah”
Riki Goldstein Throughout the Yamim Noraim, three words accompany us
The Rebbe Held His Gaze
Riki Goldstein A moment etched in Reb Dovid Werdyger’s memory forever
The Road Taken
Faigy Peritzman In the end it’s clear who really merits true happiness
Sincere Apology
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A heartfelt and complete apology can turn things around
Power Pack of Mercy
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz The 13 Attributes of Mercy are “an infinite treasure”
The Appraiser: Part II
D. Himy M.S. CCC-SLP, and Zivia Reischer “Eli needs to see people who struggled to achieve”