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Intergenerational Programming

Intergenerational Interactions

An anticipated outcome of intergenerational programs is the creation of new and positive relationships. These relationships evolve over time and are a function of behaviors that occur during intergenerational interactions. The behaviors typically reported in intergenerational interactions are supportive and positive. They are referred to in the literature by a variety of researchers and include: helping, encouraging, agreeing, instructing, giving, showing affection, talking calmly, complimenting, reinforcing, smiling, hugging, being spontaneous, sharing tasks, and building group solidarity (Kuehne 1989; Newman, Morris, and Streetman 1999; Penninx 1996; Larkin and Newman 2001).

Many of these behaviors are fundamental to Erik Erikson's developmental theory that explains a process of interdependence and independence across the life span. In later life this process encourages the purposeful effort to leave a legacy of ideas, skills, and values for one's family, community, and society (Erikson, Erikson, and Kivnick 1986).

Included in the literature about the development, structure, outcomes, and implications of intergenerational programs are references to concepts that have a direct impact on family relationships. Valerie Kuehne (1989) discusses the basic social nature of an intergenerational culture in school classrooms as preparation for a meaningful description of the interactions taking place between group members of vastly different ages (and in different settings). "Groups of adults and children in intergenerational programs may be seen as small societies in which certain behaviors are evident that help to create solidarity and minimize conflict among group members" (Kuehne 1989).

Intergenerational groups involving older adults and youth of all ages may exhibit behaviors, interactions, or relationships that correspond to those found in other familiar social groups (e.g., families and educational institutions) (Hare, Borgatta, and Bales 1955; Kuehne 1989). It is therefore of interest to examine relationships between the behaviors reported in intergenerational programs and those evident in intergenerational familial settings.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelatives & Extended FamilyIntergenerational Programming - Rationale—why Now?, Program Models, Intergenerational Interactions, Impact On Families, International Intergenerational Programming Efforts