Can Seniors Learn from Kids?
Previously on the blog, we have talked about life lessons young people can learn from senior citizens. But does this work the other way around, too? Are there things senior citizens can learn from children? The truth is that we can all learn something from children, which follows from the fact that we can learn from every person. Thanks to the special bond that senior citizens and children form when they encounter one another, seniors especially can learn some important lessons from kids.
Children have traits that make them well-suited to certain things. For this reason, they are often the only people who can teach seniors some lessons. Here are a few things seniors can learn from kids so that they can become like spiritual children in faith.
1. How to nurture hope
Kids are natural optimists. Many children have not experienced crushing disappointment or anything else that beats people down. Their inclination is toward hope, and that can be infectious. Seniors have seen so much of life that they know that things are not always easy, and can in fact be quite difficult. This can build up discouragement and resentment over time, especially when people who are elderly experience loneliness, illness, or other trials. But as Christians, we are called to always have hope. Interacting with children and witnessing their unfailing hope can help seniors to rebuild that hope in their lives if they have lost it, or to help the hope they do have to grow even stronger.
2. How to imagine without limits
Sometimes, adults think of children as being unrealistic and imagining things that just aren’t possible. They expect children to grow up and come to terms with reality. While adults and seniors certainly have to understand that realities of the world they live in, they can learn a lot from the boundless imaginations of children. When seniors say that they can’t imagine anything new, they need only spend a few minutes with a child to see a healthy imagination at work and reawaken their own imaginations. After all, the limits of the world are less strict than we think, because “for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
3. How to trust completely
In their innocence, kids tend to be very trusting, even toward strangers. This is why adults are so careful to warn children about people they don’t know. Adults have learned that there is evil in the world, and this can make them wary of trusting people. No one knows this better than seniors, who have life experience that sometimes wears down their trust. But if seniors lose trust in other people, they become unable to form authentically deep bonds with other people. Seniors can look to children’s complete trust in others to remind them that, though there is evil in the world, there is much more good, and the good prevails.
4. How to have confidence in God’s goodness
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17). Children have their hearts turned to God and have complete faith in God’s loving plan for them. Their natural inclination is to believe that God wants what is good for them, and they are confident that it will work out according to his plan. St. Thérèse of Lisieux was committed to following this way to holiness, and she is now a Doctor of the Church. Sometimes, especially when we have grown older and have not experienced life the way we wanted or expected to, we can fall into the temptation of believing that God has abandoned us. But God always has a plan for our good. If you have lost heart over the years, follow the example of the child who cries out to Jesus for help, confident that he will answer with love.