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Where are the children?

The family is the cornerstone of society, and these lives are connected and create the circle of care. Young parents, look to their parents for support and as we age, we look to our children for the same. We would call this the norm in society across the world.

A few years back, I was on a daytime flight to London to visit my son and his family. As I walked around, I observed that many of the passengers looked like me. As I arrived and walked through, I noticed many young couples with prams and small children, waiting to greet their parents.

In every talk I do about planning your future as you age, I ask the question “who has children living outside of South Africa”? There are always many hands that go up.

 This past week, I did an informal poll on our 50Plus-skills Facebook Group. More than one hundred people responded.

  • Fifty-one percent have at least one child outside of the country.
  • Twenty percent have children living more than 500km away from them.
  • Twenty-one percent live in the same city.
  • Two percent live with their children.
  • Six percent of children still at home

I know that this may not be the same in all communities. This was just a reflection of the community I work with. I do however know that society has changed, and this brings new opportunities and challenges. There is such deep pain about being so far away from those we love the most. I see many, who stay stuck in the pain. I too did that when mine both left, now more than 19 years ago. After some deep contemplation ( deep dark black hole), I created a new narrative that my empty nest would look different from the one my mother experienced.  I would have time to create a new purpose, help others and continue to work, so that I could visit as often as possible. How are you managing this in your own life?

Your family is still your cornerstone. We need to create new rituals and ways to stay connected. One of the things I am grateful for is technology where when one has a conversation, it feels like we are in the same room. We get to travel and enjoy time together. In most cases, it also feels like “feast or famine”. This becomes your new normal. Create times to chat. The younger generation are so busy.

Many of us want to work for longer and this new trend creates many innovative ideas. The young parents around you, may need help with care, transportation, and homework. The older generations may need help with transportation, technology, and food. Look close to home in your area of passion and skill and create a market for yourself. This purpose driven work will also help you to cope with your own loss of not having your family nearby.

Family matters. Find ways to stay connected and use the opportunity to create a better future for those in your community.