Female Friendship Across Age Lines

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Female friendship across generations. Critic Liesel Schillinger has gone millennial.

Nadja Leonhard Hooper and Liesl Schillinger are friends across generations. (Courtesy Vogue Magazine)
Nadja Leonhard Hooper and Liesl Schillinger are friends across generations. (Courtesy Vogue Magazine)

Critic and journalist Liesl Schillinger was 48 when she met Nadja Leonhard-Hooper at the laundromat on her block in New York. Nadja was 22. Barely a millennial. Maybe Gen Z. The two hit it off. Made a friendship that spanned theater and dating and Thanksgivings and buying Christmas trees. A cross-generational friendship that fired up both. This hour On Point, women now, and female friendship across generations. Plus, we remember PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill. -- Tom Ashbrook


Liesl Schillinger, freelance journalist, critic and translator. Author of "Wordbirds." (@arbitrix)

Nadja Leonhard-Hooper, actor writer and director.

From Tom’s Reading List

Vogue: My Millennial Friend — "I met her on a Tuesday, at the laundromat on my block in the East Village. We were pulling clean clothes from opposite dryers, and she was wearing a fantastic amaretto suede skirt. She was tall, slender, and fresh-faced—an utter gamine—and looked like she wouldn’t take a compliment amiss, so I praised the skirt, and she grinned, thanked me, then unleashed a torrent of cheery, animated talk, telling me she had just graduated from Vassar and moved to the neighborhood. She was writing a play, assistant-directing a show at an experimental theater nearby, and was also working for a young woman playwright, whom she named."

New York Times: What Women Find in Friends That They May Not Get From Love — "These days, marriages ideally offer far more in the way of soulful satisfaction. But they tend to begin later in life — today 20 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with nearly 60 percent in 1960; the median age of first marriage for women has risen to 27 — if they marry at all. The marriage rate hit a record low in 2015, and a 2014 Pew Research Center study showed a significant number of adults had never been married and predicted that a quarter of millennials might never marry."

Washington Post: Millennial and boomer women should be friends. It’s good for their careers. -- "Boomer women, if they’re open, can benefit a lot from millennial women, and not just in their knowledge and flair for digital technology. They pretty much help us with that in the office anyway. (Please give them some recognition. They’d appreciate it.) We can benefit from their perspectives and fresh approach to problem-solving. One of the young women I was with in Chile deftly negotiated a contract with a big client. I was incredibly impressed."

Stories of Your Friendships

"I'm 44 and enjoy adventures and girl talk with my 70 y.o. friend. Folk festivals, road trips, brunches for the past 15 years!" — @1030danielle

"I do theatre, and I have the honor of performing of women of all ages in my shows. I'm a millennial, and I have these wonderful deep friendships with women who are so much older than me, and it just means so much to be working on a common goal with these women. I get new perspective." — Caller Anna in Johnson City, NY

"Not just for ladies — At age 67, one of my best friends is a guy who is my daughter's age."  -- @BryanVWatson

"Love this topic ? One of my dearest female friends is nearly 40 years older than me (mid-70s) and we learn so much from one another" — @realjessv

" I'm in my 30's and I have lady friends in their 40's and one in their 50's. We discuss music. :)" -- @Heygirlfield

"I'm very lucky a dear friend, one of my best ,who is probably twice my age. I found a friend in her when I needed friends in college. She's part of the community I'm in, the equestrian community, and I've gained so much." — Caller Emily in Omaha, NE

"I'm in my mid-40s, and one of my best friends is actually in her mid-60s. We met at a party, and I was actually there to see her daughter. She has been such a safe place for me." — Caller Kristen in Nashville, TN

"I worked in skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes) for five years, from the ages of 23 – 28. The residents were much, much older than me: in their 80s and 90s. I was surprised to find that I became quite friendly with many of them; and I will never forget one in particular, H., who I got along with so well I was certain that, had we been born in the same time period, we would have been best friends. We had overlapping interests in movies and music, we had similar philosophies on how to treat others, we confided in each other, and she had the most wonderful way of teaching me about life through stories of her own life. I truly loved her, and when she passed I cried like I had lost a best friend. Friendships that cross age lines, in my experience, are some of the most wonderful." — Amy

"I work at craft gallery and meet wonderful people all day long, and have become lasting friends with people of all ages, although age has no bearing whatsoever on our deep connections." — Marietta

"I'm 37, and I have a 92 year old friend down in New York whom I visit once a month. After 8 or 9 years of friendship, he finds it incredible that he managed to make a new friend so late in life. We have a lot in common specifically our love of classical music." — Richard

This program aired on November 15, 2016.


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