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The Double Age Rule

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Nicolai Elberling

Winter 2017

The Double Age Rule

For parents and caring beyond your own death

If you are a parent with children still living at home or if you are having trouble imagining your future or specifically a positive one, then you might find some usefulness from the double age rule.

It is what lies at the edge of our perception, that we may find thrilling, interesting and exciting to examine, learn more about and start expanding towards.

Caring for 7 generations ahead

There is a story about the old Native Americans. They took it upon themselves to ensure that the bigger decisions were made with the next 7 generations in mind.

Seven generations – that is simply such a long timeframe to perceive, let alone to balance your decisions against, that I have found it to be a mind-bogglingly unrealistic idea, and still – I’m loving it. But how does this connect to us, to raising kids or just to help us start imagining the future in a positive light?

The midlife crisis

About 10 years ago, I heard a radio show about how and why many people experience a midlife crisis around the age of 40.

The radio show was interesting in itself, as the midlife crisis seem to be affecting so many people. It was explained how, in relation to the midlife crisis, the 40-year mark is about starting to perceive our possible death. This is because we as humans seem to be able to perceive about as many years into the future as we have lived and it means when turning from 35 to 40 our perception boundaries changes from being able to perceiving ourselves at 70 to 80.

At that time, the life expectancy for males were 78 and females, 82. This may still be changing, but the point being that at 40, our possible death is starting to enter our perception. Turning 50 means that you may perceive your probable death, and 60 means that you may perceive your certain death.

This could cause us to:

Experience a midlife crisis at 40, realising that we might die.
Start turning around at 50, because we do not want to perceive beyond death.
Walk backwards out of our life from the age of 60, since now the biggest part is evidently behind us in the past.

Now, this is quite interesting, and I thought that this idea – We can perceive as many years ahead as we have lived – might be applied in other aspects of our lives. 

Using it with kids

During the last 10 years, I have tested that idea on my kids, seeing how they are reacting when exposing them to things that might be relevant to them at, above or below the double of their age. Topics have ranged from starting high-school, having a girlfriend/boyfriend, going out partying, getting drunk, voting, driving a car and moving out.

These tests have shown me that it can be distressing to imagine yourself moving out when you are only 9, but not at 11; that imagining yourself starting at high-school at the age of 8 is just about right; that going out partying (and what to be careful about) is something that may be introduced already at the age of 10; that problems around smoking, and the peer pressure related to this, is a perfect topic for a 7-8 year old.

I have found that by addressing topics relevant to the persons my kids might be, at the double of their current age, is not only feasible, but also that they find these topics VERY interesting, while at the same time, distant enough for them to dissociate, just enough that there is no embarrassment, no feeling of blame and no fear in play. We can have an interesting conversation, they feel they can stretch their perception of the future, and I can drip knowledge, rules, tips and heuristics, without being the stern, rigid and obnoxious parent of a teenager.

I have since used this rule as a guide for what to teach them and when. Using this, I have known when to start talking about safe sex (age of 9 to 10), when to teach them about the risks of drug-rape (10-11), identity theft (10), mugging (9-10). I have also found that throughout the teenage years, I could bring up any topic and have a great conversation with my teenagers by just framing the topic in the context of the double of their age.

I have had great talks about becoming a mother, cultivating the relationship to your spouse, having unsafe sex, having multiple lovers, being desperate for finding a partner with my daughter from the age of 15 and onwards, just as long as I framed it within the context of her being 30+ years old, and how those issues might be in play at that age.

Connecting back to perceive forward

Taking this learning forward to conversations with people above 60, talking about what they might gain from using their ability to perceive further into the future than the rest of us, even beyond their own death. This has brought up the topic of giving on to the following generations, and I take them back to the Native Americans and caring for 7 generation ahead.

Some years ago, I discovered how perceiving across such a span of time just might be feasible. While talking to my cousin’s husband, I learned how he had just become a grandparent, and how the first time he held his newly born grand daughter in his arms, suddenly felt deeply connected to his own granddad. At that moment he realised, how exactly this feeling of love and connection to his baby granddaughter, was what his granddad had felt for him. The man was radiating as he told me this, and I could feel the impact of this revelation strongly. I even got goose bumps just by listening to his short tale.

So, what he was also telling me, was how his perception suddenly covered the span of 5 generations, not 5 generations ahead, but by connecting to his granddad, he would be able to see how the things his granddad taught him, the things his granddad had planted would in turn be passed on to this newly born great, great, grandchild. And that is 5 generations ahead.

Caring beyond your death

As you may be getting closer to the age of great-grandparents, just imagine holding your baby great-grandchild in your arms noticing the feelings enabling you to connect back to your own great-grandparents, and how this connection might be the difference, that may enable you to cover a span of 7 generations and start thinking and caring for 7 generations ahead.

Regardless of whether you are actually becoming a grandparent, already being one or whether that is never going to happen, doesn’t matter. This is just about connecting backwards, through generations and then using this bridge, to actively start perceiving ahead.

I’m using this to inspire you and to show how perceiving beyond your death may be useful, because the older you are, the more you may be in a unique position to perceive further into the future than the rest of us. The wisdom gained from this ability can be put to good use, as you might be able to start planting ideas in loved ones younger than you, ideas that may spread and traverse the span of time, and maybe even affecting 7 generations ahead.

I have learned that it is what lies at the edge of our perception, that we may find thrilling, interesting and exciting to examine, learn more about and start expanding towards. It is a powerful thing to start relating positively towards the future, looking beyond your own life and start seeing meaning there still.

It is also a powerful thing getting through to your kids, side stepping their usual resistance so neatly and completely getting them interested, curious and engaged. Connecting and getting back into the position of guiding and nudging your children, while at the same time, helping them to get more in control of their lives.

I’m hoping you may find some use in this that might enable you to get safely into the driver’s seat with a smile on your face. The future is out there and, by looking far enough, you may gently be able to nudge it into existence.