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Grandparents and grandchildren have a special connection, even if they don't have the chance to see each other as often as they might like.
Photographer Ivette Ivens' parents live in Lithuania, where she was raised, but she now splits her time between Hawaii and Chicago, thousands of miles away.
Luckily for Ivens, her parents are able to spend three months with the family every year. Their daughter decided to use that together time to create a photo series, "Generations," celebrating the relationship Kevin, 5, and Dilan, 2, have with their grandparents.
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The photo series came about naturally.
“I was enjoying shooting my parents on a daily basis being sweet with my children,” Ivens told TODAY. “And I just started taking pictures of them and posting them online, and I got quite a few emails and messages saying that it’s such a gentle topic.”
That’s when Ivens realized that this photo series was about more than her family, but is really about chronicling different generations and discovering the way that they communicate.
“I feel like it’s so important for little kids to be surrounded by all age groups,” said Ivens. “And if we don’t [let them spend time together] we can’t give that knowledge to our future generations. It’s very essential and I feel like it’s being forgotten.”
Ivens is so passionate about children spending time with older generations that she encourages families that don’t have grandparents in their lives to seek out those interactions.
“If one doesn’t have grandparents I just say go out there,” said Ivens. “Go to elder homes and volunteer there. Kids learn so much from older generations.”
Mostly, she doesn’t want the older generation’s wisdom to be overlooked. She worries that they aren’t valued as much as they should be, and she hopes that this photo series will help people understand the wealth of knowledge that they offer.
“We need to cherish our elders and our time together,” said Ivens. “Take everything in and remember it. Write it down.”