I’m a Boomer with Millennial Friends
I was telling a friend last week about going to a baseball game. As I was describing the people involved, my friend laughed. “You have friends in their 30s? What do Boomers and Millennials have in common?”
At first, it made me feel ancient, like no one under the age of 45 would have the least bit of interest in what I might have to offer. Then I realized that her comment said much more about the reality of her world, than it offered commentary on my own.
But it got me thinking. I’ve heard more than one midlifer say similar things. I keep reading criticisms of younger generations, especially Millennials, and is it fair? James Wolcott writes in Vanity Fair:
The first generation of digital natives and Facebook fiends, Millies possess the biological attributes of other Earth dwellers but appear to represent an evolutionary hop into a future that seems stuck in traffic.
Ready to take on a world that isn’t making room for them, they’re thwarted, slowly, awkwardly, fitfully integrating into adult society and doing a remarkable job of getting on everybody’s nerves.
They walk among us, though most of them don’t appear to mind where they’re going, their eyes and forefinger scrolling down ghostly screens as they maintain constant textual linkage with fellow mutants and finesse their flat affect.
They work among us, although if the testimonies of executives, middle management, and Human Resources can be credited, Millies require a constant drizzle of compliments and acknowledgments—strokings and pokings—to remain motivated or at least stop fidgeting.
Whatever Millies do or consume, they want to feel special, because so many of them have been treated as special all of their lives.
There are studies disputing the above criticisms about the work ethic of Millennials (i.e. flexible work hours doesn’t equate to laziness) and their seeming need for constant approval and support.
Jeremy Boudinet, a Millenial himself, stresses that it’s not feedback that his generation needs.
“Isn’t this indicative of a generation that is not so much narcissistic as we are uncertain? Everyone’s calling for humility, but what I see is a need for direction.
On a professional level, there is compelling evidence that Boomer and Gen-X mentorship is the cure for bridging the generation gap and “fixing” Millennials, for the betterment of all parties involved. “
No one seems to remember that it was their parents’ generation who gave everyone a trophy for showing up. Those 90s kids didn’t lead a protest and demand fake plastic statues for their Saturday morning appearance at soccer. They were excited about the cake and the water slide, not the extravagant gift bag they were handed at their buddy’s birthday party.
We Made Them
Either older Boomers or younger Gen-Xers parented Millennials. And the kids absorbed the strength of what we offered, and suffered from our mistakes. Like all generations. And the world they’re entering is extremely different than the ones of their parents. Like all generations.
My folks couldn’t believe I could take three courses in college “pass/fail” or that my freshman year colloquia focused on whether or not God existed. “That school is too liberal,” and continuously asked me if I wanted to transfer to the University of Arkansas.
They were flabbergasted I spent a lot of money on my very first concert to gyrate to the sounds of Three Dog Night. “Not a symphony? Not Barbra Streisand?”
My grandmother, who was seated in the third row at my senior voice recital, stage-whispered to my mother, “She doesn’t have on a bra,” her words ringing out right after the initial applause, when you could’ve heard a pin drop.
I was obviously going to hell in a hand basket.
Some seem to believe all the Millennials are about to join me.
Boomers and Millennials, A Love Story
Maybe it’s an odd coupling, Boomers and Millennials. I bet we have something to learn from each other.
I personally love hanging out with people younger than me. They challenge my thinking and my perspective. It helps that my son is a Millennial and I’m eager to hear how he and his friends see the world.
I personally don’t want to boxed in by my own generational title, “Oh, she’s a Boomer.” How boring. Why would I do that to someone else?
As far as my contribution to the relationship? Wisdom is one thing. Rigid thinking is something else.
Want more from Dr. Margaret? Click here for “Marriage Is Not For Chickens,” the new gift book by Dr. Margaret! It’s perfect for engagements, anniversaries, weddings, or for the person you love! (Give it to a Millennial– maybe they’ll learn a little something…)
You can hear more about midlife and many other topics by listening to Dr. Margaret’s new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford.