Inspire the next generation to know what to expect in the decades to come
In the previous blog, Leave a legacy in your children and grandchildren – not for them we looked at why it’s important for those of us who have gone before to reach the next generation with the wisdom of the decades. Life is short and it’s vital that we tell them how to prepare for the future.
Now let’s look at each of the decades of life.
Decade #1 – zero to 10 years old
Research shows the first decade is one of the most important in all of life. This first decade is spent relating to the family God chose for you.
The big challenge we face in this first decade of life is – Can I trust these people?
(No one thinks that at five years old, but we all experience it.)
A big question we ask in the first ten years is – Do I belong?
Kids misbehave primarily during this period of life and into the next decade as well, because they’re ultimately trying to belong, to fit in and to connect.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids and grandkids is lots of security. If you experienced a lot of security as a child, you know it made a difference in your life. And if you didn’t, you know it made a difference in your life, too.
Decade #2 – 10 to 19 years old
From pre-teen right through the teenage years, relationships move from just you and your family to you and your friends. Your kids and grandkids start to connect with friends. They’re going to school, having parties, learning to drive and suddenly, the family doesn’t have quite the same impact in their lives as their friends do.
The real challenge in this decade is my identity?
We work on our identity all throughout our lives, but from 10 to 20 years of age in particular, the questions asked many times are –
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- What does God have for me?
It’s critical to help your kids come to know Christ and then grow in Him during these years. This is a time when you really need to be instilling into the life of your young person, the truth of Who God is and what He means to them .
Decade #3 – 20s
The 20s are a time of independence. You ask, “Can I make it on my own?”
You’re going to make mistakes. So, make them in your 20s. Fail early; fail fast; pick yourself back up and keep going.
If God impresses something onto your heart, this is the decade to do it – education, the experiences, the things you feel God is really leading you to do.
Note: If you have a 20-year-old who’s a giant risk taker, I wouldn’t teach them this particular point. You might want to throttle that back a little bit and add some other descriptive words like safe, risk and careful. But for those in your 20s who want to stay in a bubble, maybe because you you’ve been hurt, this is a time to really branch out and learn.
Decade #4 – 30s
I’ve found the first thirty years of life to be the learning years. You have a learning curve. You’re gaining knowledge about the world, God, other people and you’re learning about yourself. You are discovering what works and doesn’t work. By the end of the 20s, it’s time to grow up.
The 30s are an interesting decade about you and your big decisions. It’s a decade for new starts.
The 30s are a time to ask, “What’s next?”
It’s so critical to teach our 30-somethings to really grow in their confidence in Christ.
Decade #5 – 40s
Did you know the 40s represent the most difficult decade of life psychologically because you’re now in your midlife? It’s kind of in the middle of this chart.
If you’re going to start questioning, you’ll ask, “Have I accomplished what I set out to do?” In this decade, you’re collecting stuff and you really have to be clear with your priorities.
Life is cumulative. If you didn’t struggle in your 30s and didn’t make some decisions, the 40s might even be tougher for you, unless you say, “God, I need your help.”
Decade #6 – 50s
The 50s are often the empty nest and the generational squeeze. You’ve got the people you’re raising, and they’re moving out. You probably have aging parents and their issues and you’re in the middle.
According to research, the 50s are the best decade of life because you still feel relatively healthy, and strong, and yet you have the stresses going on between these generational situations.
The question is, “How do I manage it?”
We see that there can be another spike in divorce at this time because the kids may have held everything together. Now, the kids are gone, living their own life. You’re trying to manage a relationship with them and learn how to have an adult-to-adult relationships. Often you look at your spouse and think, Who are they? How did this happen? I was so busy doing all these things.
Three decades from 30 to 60 is the time when you’re really living. You’re building your wealth, your homes and your family. You’re really putting life into action. Then we move into the last three decades which is legacy or the letting go. For many, the 60s is the decade you go into retirement.
Decade #7 – 60s
The big question that we see according to research in the 60s is Have I planned well enough? And it’s not only financially, but have you planned enough in all the areas of your life?
So, if you’re in your 50s, I’d encouraged you to ask: “What is my life going to be like when I get into my 60s?” Spend time, not only looking at your responsibilities, but also studying your life, where you are financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually and in your relationships.
People in their 60s need to stay engaged. It’s easy when retirement time comes to think you’ve done all you need to do. It’s a mistake to just sit and focus on yourself. I see people do that, and they die.
Decade #8 – 70s
The 70s can bring declining strength. You start thinking about what remains unfinished – relationships, paperwork, a messy garage or whatever it is. The 70s is a time where we need to be positive and to stay active because there’s a change in strength.
You don’t have as much strength as you used to have, and it’s just it’s just part of life. You realize things are different, and it’s frustrating because your mind is still thinking 50 or 45, but your body isn’t quite responding.
Decade #9 – 80-plus
You may have dependency issues or some failing health. The question I think we’re asking here is, Will I lose my independence?
Some people in this age group may need assisted living or a nursing home and the question becomes, Can I trust God, and can I trust other people? There’s a great deal of vulnerability in the world today. We should have a real heart of concern for those over eighty.
We live in a culture today that loves to deny the reality of life. We must seek God and do what we can to inspire the next generation to know what to expect in the decades to come.
Explore the previous blog – Leave a legacy in your children and grandchildren – not for them.