Today we’re talking about the value of relationships among women of different ages and generations.
No matter how different our lives and experiences are, there is great value in connecting with other generations of women
This episode was inspired by a social media post I saw this week. The woman who posted it appears to be younger than me–maybe in her 40s or 50s? I found her when I ran across some short humorous Facebook reels she posted about “rules” for the family Thanksgiving get-together. She apparently also posts homemaking tips and so on, and has received feedback recently from younger women saying she shouldn’t be “telling them how to run their homes” because as an older woman she doesn’t understand the stress and mental health issues younger women today have to deal with. The younger women seemed to interpret this woman’s posts as judgmental, and the gist of these comments was that the older women should just sit down and be quiet.
I was saddened and disturbed by this response. I’ve seen it before–younger women dismissing older women as irrelevant and out of touch. The “okay, boomer” mentality. It’s hurtful, especially in light of how many women feel that when they reach a certain age they become invisible, like they no longer count. This attitude, I feel, deprives all of us women, regardless of our age, of something truly valuable, maybe even essential: the opportunity to learn from each other, to expand our lives. I truly believe we as women need each other, and we suffer if we cut ourselves off from any group of other women.
As I thought about this woman’s post and the things I’ve read and heard before, I thought I’d share just a few thoughts about this.
Every generation’s experience of the world is in many ways different from those who came before. When I was a young woman first making my way in the world, I knew the women of my mother’s generation had lived in a world very different from mine in terms of societal expectations of women, career opportunities, technology, and more. In some ways their world was smaller than mine, just as in some ways mine was smaller than the younger women of today. But still, when I was a young woman, we valued the insight of older women, the knowledge and wisdom that can come from experience. Older women came into my life at different times from whom I learned about being a wife, how to mother my children, how to put meals on the table, how to sew, and later, how to be a lawyer.
Even now, in my early 60s, as a woman who married very young, raised 5 kids, went back to college and then to law school in my 30s, and who’s been a professional woman for 20 years, I still value the insight of the women who are older than me, who’ve navigated the post-kids empty nest period, retirement, aging–the things I haven’t done before but they have.
Of course, you have no obligation to listen to any particular person–especially a random stranger on the internet, someone with whom you have no relationship, who hasn’t earned the right to speak into your life. But that’s a different thing from feeling it’s okay to tell that person to sit down and stop speaking.
And it seems to me there’s a certain level of arrogance in simply dismissing the experience of those who’ve been where you are, whether personally or professionally, as a woman, wife, mom, professional woman. To think that your generation’s experience is so unique that the women who came before you have nothing to offer you is at best a misconception. We need each other. Even without adopting wholesale the advice, example, and beliefs of those who came before us, we still can acknowledge that they do have something to offer.
On the other hand, older women need younger women, too, and older women need to guard against another kind of arrogance that would dismiss the younger women merely because of their youth and less experience. Older women bring experience, knowledge, hopefully wisdom. Younger women bring an enthusiasm and freshness that sometimes we who’ve endured the tougher things in life may have lost. We might have become jaded. Younger women also often have an openness and honesty that older women can learn from–we grew up in an era where you kept things inside.
I’m not saying that one way is right and the other is wrong. I’m not suggesting that the younger women need to do what the older women have done the way they did it–or vice versa. But we can learn from each other and we should support one another. For any woman to say another should sit down and shut up feels wrong to me. Whether it’s because of generational differences or doctrinal disagreements, no woman should ignore–or worse, seek to silence–another. We need each other. Each of us is made stronger by listening to the others.
And I believe we as women, across ages and belief systems and nationality, have more in common than we might recognize.
Every age and era brings new challenges, but there is a through-line of commonality. Change is constant. Struggle is constant. It might express itself in new and different ways, but it’s still the same humanity. Despite the myriad differences, at its core life as a human woman is filled with universal experiences. We all love; we all fear; we all hope and dream. We all experience grief and disappointment and discouragement; joy and passion and wonder.
“Womanhood can be a rough and dirty road to navigate. The journey is wrought with forks in the road, some of which we stand behind and others of which we aren’t proud. While no two women share an identical story, many of our inner voices are echoes of each other. We are worn. We are wounded. And we carry heavy baggage.” [from This is Why Women Need Each Other]
The load feels lighter if we travel together.
“Your relationships with women in your life will have different dynamics. Because everyone won’t be the same. You have those relationships with your mother, your sisters, your daughters, your friends, your female colleagues and other women in your life. Each relationship requires something different from you. Learn how to ebb and flow with each one so that you know how to tailor your support. Though women experience many of the same challenges, every woman needs to be supported in different ways. Being open-minded to different experiences and beliefs or values will help you to be a better comrade.” [from Women need other women in their lives who will support them unconditionally]
This podcast was launched on the premise that we need each other, that we can learn from each other. If you go all the way back to the first episodes I think you’ll hear me say that. I have never considered myself an expert in the area of productivity–I’m still learning! My goal always was to create a space where we could learn from each other. If I share what I know, and you share what you know, together we can come up with solutions to the common challenges we face personally and professionally.
The masterminds that I host are premised on that idea. I’ve seen it over and over again: groups comprised of women across the age spectrum (and professional/geographical/background/life stage) supporting and encouraging and inspiring and consoling each other. And each woman was the better for it.
“We all have differences—whether that be race, ethnicity, upbringing, beliefs or values. But the one thing that joins us together is a lived experience of womanhood. We have all witnessed it. We have all lived it. We have all breathed it. Because as women, we share many universal experiences—and most importantly, we rise by lifting each other.” [from Women need other women in their lives who will support them unconditionally]
I encourage you to seek out other women in your life–those older than you, ahead of you on life’s journey, and ask them to talk about it. But also those younger than you–talk to them, learn from them, and share what you know with them.
Regardless of age or experience or whatever other surface differences between us, we need each other
What do you think?
Is there a woman in your life that you could reach out to this week to connect with for mutual encouragement? Post your suggestions in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or email me.
Resources and Links
- TPW Mastermind information and online application
- Younger Women and Older Women: It’s a Natural Match | Psychology Today
- Power Of The Pack: Women Who Support Women Are More Successful
- Women Need Each Other More Than Men Do In This Tough World. And We Need To Accept It
- This Is Why Women Need Each Other
- Why Women Supporting Women Is Important Essay – Motherly
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Royse City, Texas