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Classes and services help European consumers rekindle and revamp family traditions

by Sairica Rose, cultural fluent

New tech for old wisdom? Sounds like an oxymoron. But busy lives and generational differences have made it harder for many urbanites to embrace their heritage and the here and now — so, culturally proud, family-focused consumers of all ages are turning to services that steer them back to their roots by enabling better communication across generations and teaching young people the cultural traditions that far-flung relatives can’t.

In family-centric southern Europe, where grandparents play a key caregiving role, intrepid seniors are taking steps to better communicate with their grandkids. In the Spanish town of Boadilla del Monte, open-minded abuelos attend Grandparents’ School to learn how their grandchildren think, feel and communicate. The Town Hall-sponsored course, held at a local seniors’ centre, consists of 10 free, weekly two-hour lessons offering practical guidance and insight into youngsters’ relationships, education, values and leisure activities — all of which have evolved drastically since senior participants were kids.

Keeping in regular touch with the grandkids also means bridging the great tech divide — or so believe savvy Italian grandparents tapping into Lifeshare. The free app lets smartphone-braving seniors receive pics of their beloved grandkids without touching the screen, and get real-time notifications of their movements via SMS. The youngsters can customise the app’s settings, deciding what to share with whom.

In Turkey, home-style dishes have traditionally been passed down from mom to daughter, but with greater urbanisation and more women joining the workforce, learning to cook often gets relegated to the back burner. Now, young, nutrition-aware working mums are signing up for cookery classes at KitchenCreates, in Istanbul’s family-friendly Kadikoy neighbourhood. The sessions satisfy those looking to pick up culinary skills and learn how to incorporate international fare and lighter versions of traditional Turkish dishes into family meals.

In the same neighborhood, affluent young Turkish adults and midlifers can create decorative terrariums at monthly Bee Design and Flower Shop‘s workshops. In a modern take on their grandmothers’ gardening circles, participants — mostly women — learn how to artfully arrange succulents and cacti while nibbling snacks, sipping drinks, listening to jazz and mingling.

Embracing family and cultural traditions can boil down to spending quality time with loved ones. In the UK , where 7 in 10 families find it tough to grab an hour a day together (Daily Mail, 18 April 2014) the #PledgeOneHour campaign encourages parents to take advantage of free online ideas for enjoying quality time with their kids. The one-stop site offers indoor and outdoor activities, and craft and cookery make-and-dos. It aims to save parents precious time researching ideas which, according to the website, accounts for 202 days of childhood wasted.


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