Adventures in Retirement – Bridging the generation gap can help family relations

Written by Bill Leavitt. Posted in Featured

Published on November 05, 2019 with No Comments

For seniors it is often tough to get along with our children’s generation and even more difficult dealing with our grandchildren.  However, I recently learned a way to bridge the generation gap with my grandchildren.

It started out with an expensive problem of scraping and painting the wood deck in our backyard and another problem growing grass in an extremely shady area.  A deck expert told us we would have to replace the floor of our deck at a cost of thousands of dollars.  A landscape expert told us that we could no longer grow grass in a shady area of our yard and suggested we build a rock garden and stone patio.  I realized that I am too old to do the kind of hard work needed for these projects.

Two teenage grandsons suggested we hire them to do the work. While they had little experience with the types of projects we wanted done, we figured that because of the lower cost of hiring them it was a risk worth taking.  First, we hired them to scrape the old paint off the deck and repaint it.  We paid them by the hour but were not satisfied with their work effort.  Then we decided to pay them by negotiating the cost of the each project with them instead of paying them by the hour. Amazingly, by paying them by the project, they worked much faster, and although the work lacked a little on the quality side, their efforts were satisfactory.

In the process, they learned a little about deck work, painting, landscaping, stonework and how to do contract work.  They learned the difference between working by the hour versus setting a negotiated price.  And we got our projects done at a fraction of what it would have cost to have the work done by professionals.  Also, working with them was an opportunity for “bridging the generation gap.”  My wife and I were fellow workers, bosses, teachers and grandparents at the same time.  My wife prepared refreshments and lunches for them as needed.

Hiring grandchildren to do household projects is something grandparents might want to consider.  Whether it is mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, raking or doing bigger, more complicated tasks, it is an opportunity to help them out financially, teach them some useful skills and save yourself some back-breaking work.  It is also a way to improve the relationship between you both ways. Everybody wins.

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About Bill Leavitt

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Bill Leavitt is a technical writer from Valparaiso. After retiring from a large corporation in Chicago, he did technical writing consulting for many companies. He currently teaches part-time at Purdue University Calumet. You can order Leavitt’s book, “Retirement: Life’s Greatest Adventure,” by sending $16.65 (includes shipping and sales tax) made payable to Write On Technical Writing, Inc., P.O. Box 132,Valparaiso, IN 46384-0132. Or, visit for more information.

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