Generations / Part 1 Warfare or Welfare? - Skip to content

Generations / Part 1 Warfare or Welfare?


reverse mortgage newsStrife and suffering are media mainstays: an old newspaper chestnut goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” So while press and pundits would have us believe generational warfare is the way of the world, those who live and work beyond the box subscribe to a different view.

Warfare inquiry #1: Are Boomers who wish to remain employed taking jobs from Millennials?

Let’s begin at the beginning: with the very young, long before they enter the workforce (an interesting word: are we “forced” to work?). Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, whom we’ve referenced before, says generational warfare is a myth: that seniors and kids are a natural fit.

“Children thrive on face-to-face contact with caring adults. Indeed, there is no substitute for such connections when it comes to everything from language through development… At the same time, adults at midlife and beyond tend to experience a powerful desire to nurture the next generations — what visionary psychologist Erik Erikson called ‘generativity.’ Significantly, individuals who follow this natural impulse to connect with and guide younger generations are three times more likely to be happy in later life than their peers who do not, according to research by George Vaillant of Harvard Medical School.”

And, Freedman continues, older adults are adept at forging these sorts of connections precisely because the more balanced emotional state that accrues with age makes them increasingly available for relationships, especially with children. These jigsaw puzzle pieces fit interlocking needs, as the AARP Experience Corps program has demonstrated. Low-income students who work with Experience Corps members “make 60 percent gains in critical literacy skills, and the boost to their reading skills is equivalent to placing them in classrooms with 40 percent fewer students.”

If children develop a positive association with elders from the start, they will be unlikely (or less likely) to take issue with older adults once both groups meet in the workplace, because they’ll view the older generation as mentors and guides rather than adversaries.

Warfare inquiry #2: Are adult children who oppose reverse mortgage on the grounds they don’t want to dilute their inheritance being selfish?

Death and dying expert Michelle Peticolas speaks to family loyalty issues and the problems conflicting loyalties can create in a marriage. If one of these “issues” revolves around money, it’s perhaps understandable (though not necessarily acceptable) that a child would want to keep their eventual inheritance intact.

Peticolas says, “When my parents were in their end-of-life phase, I was torn between the demands of my spiritual community and my parents’ increasing needs. There were many times I had to choose between one or the other. I suspect I did not always make the right choice.”

The building blocks of relationship (in both families of origin and those we create) include:

  • Proximity
  • Sameness
  • Belonging
  • Significance
  • Love
  • Being known

Echoing the finding of the AARP Experience Corps program and Freedman, Peticolas adds, “Belonging is about loyalty, and extends way beyond preschool age. It means having someone’s back; not speaking disparagingly about your loved one, even when you’re frustrated. It’s a promise to be there emotionally whenever you’re needed.”

This “takes a lot more conscious effort than it seems at first. Loyalty, at times, demands sacrifice. When a criticism of a loved one goes unchallenged, that’s actually a form of disloyalty.”

What the experts appear to be saying is that communication and caring, the twin foundation stones of all relationships, are key to transcending confrontation and choosing wellbeing. It isn’t necessarily easy or swift, but as the evidence shows, it serves everyone involved. When someone opposes what appears to be for the greater good of a family member, it’s important to discover what’s really going on.


Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
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Leave a Comment


  1. Hi Amara ~

    I just finished reading your latest blog – twice: Mighty deep with a lot of information and things to think about.

    Part of relationships with others is “self-preservation” in many aspects:

    * How others see us.
    * Status among our peers
    * Acknowledgment that we are good in our various work areas
    * Will have sufficient funds to enjoy our lives as long as we live
    * Maintain attractiveness to others
    * Projecting a Positive Attitude
    * Faithfulness and support of family/good friends

    I am sure there are a lot more items that could be listed…but back to the self-preservation mode as an underlying foundation to much of our motivations in life. These are driving forces for most of us and do play an important role in our personal growth throughout our lives. They don’t happen all at the same time, but do have an effect at varying times.

  2. Hi Dick,

    Thanks as always for your very perceptive thoughts, which add to everyone’s information and wisdom.

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