Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Intergenerational Strategy by Margot Starbuck, mom of three

Before I had kids, I had all sorts of big ideas about how I’d strap them to my back and we’d hop on my scooter and serve the world’s marginalized peoples. Once I had kids, I could barely find time to slip out of my nightshirt, let alone leave the house. Those in rural Africa and America’s inner cities were just going to have to do without me for … the next eighteen years or so.

And while I’m not making any transatlantic voyages for a while, I did start to notice folks who were marginalized in my own community. In fact, I could see Miss Betty’s living room from my front porch. Because her family lived at a distance, Miss Betty was hungry to see children. As God opened my eyes, I started to notice all sorts of ways to serve right under my own nose.

-Elderly Miss Virginia, on a route I often power-walked, sat outside everyday both due to a lack of air-conditioning and also to have some human contact.

-A senior center opened up downtown near the school my oldest attended.

-Everyday, at noontime, aging Mr. and Mrs. Dunham traveled fifteen miles to visit their daughter, with multiple disabilities, who was institutionalized.

"You’ll find plenty of opportunities
to move with Jesus
toward the ones he loves."

It became clear pretty quickly that there was a whole population of “hidden ones,” marginalized especially by age and ability, who would welcome human affection. Here are some age-appropriate ideas for intergenerational relationships:

1. Take advantage of your first child’s early infancy, before separation anxiety sets in, to visit care facilities where older adults can hold your child.

2. Give your 6-12 month old “floor time,” with favorite toys and mobile at the home of an elderly neighbor while you chat.

3. If a neighbor spends time on a front porch, give your preschooler a bottle of bubbles and let her play in the yard.

With a little holy imagination, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to move with Jesus toward the ones he loves.

Lord, as I mother, I long to engage with the world you love. Show me the places where my child might dispel loneliness right in my neighborhood.

Margot Starbuck is a writer and speaker who lives in North Carolina. You can connect with her at MargotStarbuck.com.
Her book, Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor, explores more of these simple ways to touch your community.

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