Middle age is that stage in life in which we can look back and relate to older generations and look ahead and relate to younger generations. Erikson1 described this stage as generativity, "the concern in establishing and guiding the next generation." As we assume the responsibility of guiding the next generation of children, we might question whether the important connections between and among generations in America are intact. Do our children have a sense of connectedness in their lives so that as they face new challenges they can resolve them by drawing on previous experiences?
Perhaps I believe that connectedness is important for our young people because I grew up in a small village in upstate New York during the post-World War II era, when community residents were connected. To this day, a walk on the streets in this small village results in a warm, Proustian experience; one home reminds me offour decades ago and its regal-appearing inhabitant, who was whitehaired, tall, and often attired in a soft, violet dress. She frequently waved as we walked by her home on our way to and from school. Walking by another house, which since has changed families many times, reminds me oftwo elderly sisters, one ofwhom supervised my first gardening experience and a premature peek at a fragile carrot. Each of us probably has similar experiences we remember as we integrate the past and the future.