Lasting Words as a Channel for Intergenerational Communication
Lasting words can be defined as verbal messages that are remembered over many years and considered by the recipient to have had a significant influence on his/her life. The study of lasting words is proposed as a supplement to existing approaches to the older person as a communicator and, in particular, to intergenerational communication. A sample of 148 independent-living older adults was asked to share words that had made a lasting impression, and to indicate what lasting words they would like to impart to other people. Parents, teachers, and grandparents were the most common source-persons for the lasting words reported by the elders in this sample. Late childhood and youth were the time periods in which most lasting words were received. Statements of general moral principles and admonitions specific to the recipient were the most common types. Some older people, however, reported derogatory remarks that had remained with them throughout their lives. In passing lasting words on to others, no older people in this sample offered communications of a derogatory nature. The value of education and the importance of giving first priority to one's own family were the most frequent themes of lasting words they would pass on to the next generation. It would appear that attention needs to be given both to the theme and substance of the message, and the total context in which the messages are communicated. Limits of this preliminary study and implications for further research on intergenerational communication are discussed.(Accepted May 24 1996)
Key Words: Lasting words; intergenerational communication; self-narratives; moral principles.