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Moral Talk Across the Lifespan

Creating Good Relationships


Edited By Vince Waldron and Douglas Kelley

Grounded in path-breaking research but written in an accessible, engaging style Moral Talk Across the Lifespan explores how our most fundamental moral commitments are shaped by crucial conversations with family members, romantic partners, and friends. Taking a lifespan approach, the authors demonstrate that moral growth is a continual process, one stimulated by transitions (e.g., leaving home for university) and disruptive events (serious illness). With chapters penned by leading relationship scholars, the volume contributes original thinking, data, and innovative theoretical pathways for researchers. For instructors it explores pressing moral questions encountered by students in their own relationships with romantic partners, friends, parents, and other family members. When is revealing a secret the right thing to do? Is revenge ever a worthy response to an insult or sleight? Why are young adults persuaded to accept some of their parents’ values but not others? Is there a right (or wrong) way to support a parent facing a terminal illness?
Moral Talk Across the Lifespan offers a stimulating blend of social science research and moral reflection. It is a key text for courses in Relational Communication, Family Communication, Interpersonal Communication, and Communication Ethics.
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Chapter Three: Generativity in the Family: Grandparent-Grandchild Relationships and the Intergenerational Transmission of Values and Worldviews


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Generativity IN THE Family

Grandparent-Grandchild Relationships and the Intergenerational Transmission of Values and Worldviews


“Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it” ( This introduction to Tuesdays with Morrie (Albom, 1997), a memoir chronicling life lessons communicated by an older man in his final days, encapsulates the popular notion that with aging comes wisdom and that life is best (and perhaps only) understood as you actually experience life. Similarly, a quotation attributed to actor William Holden states “Aging is an inevitable process. I surely wouldn’t want to grow younger. The older you become, the more you know; your bank account of knowledge is much richer.” Whereas quotations, books, and poems about a life well-lived commonly romanticize the morals and wisdom that comes with growing older, very little attention is afforded to interactions in which these life messages and wisdom are actually passed down across generations.

One of the reasons—if not, the most significant reason—for this lack of attention is that, unfortunately, we live in an age-segregated society (Hagestad & Uhlenberg, 2005) in which intergenerational contact between younger and older adults is fairly minimal compared to other...

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