6 Reasons You Should Listen to Boomers (even if they drive you crazy)

Do Baby Boomers drive you crazy? Here’s 6 reasons you should listen to them anyway.

Baby Boomers (born 1943-1961) are a fairly opinionated and outspoken bunch. I read somewhere in reference to the Boomer generation “Never has a generation said more and done less than the Baby Boomers”. As they enter Elderhood (age 63 – 85) they are beginning to feel the need to express their opinions more vehemently, knowing that they have precious little time left to do so. Although they often drive Gen X’ers (1961-1981) and Millennials (born 1982-200?) with all their talk, there are some reasons why we should consider listening to them.

  1. Some of them actually know what they are talking about. The plethora of opinions coming from Boomers almost guarantees that at least some of them are right. Figuring out which ones can be an onerous task, but it is still important to not dismiss them all.
  2. They are, for younger Gen X’ers and older Millennials, our parents. Gen X’ers may not see this as much of a qualification (since we were largely ignored in our childhood), but your parents probably know you better than most (doesn’t that drive you nuts?).
  3. They were not the only ones responsible for our current crisis. It’s easy to blame older generations for your problems – the Boomers certainly did this with the GI Generation (born 1901-1924) in the back in the 1960′s. Although the excess of the Boomers (and yes, X’ers) in the 90′s and 00′s is seen as the cause of our current problems, the issue goes back much further. Truth be told, it is probably what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation” (The GI’s) that should shoulder much of the blame for our current problems. They are the ones that built the ideal of the “American Dream” with ticky-tacky houses in the ‘burbs, superhighways, mass agribusiness and a culture of consumerism. They may have not been responsible for the extremes, but they set the ball rolling. The Boomers sure got that right.
  4. They want to leave their mark. Although this can be frustrating at times (see my previous post for the problems related to leaving a legacy) it means they are uniquely motivated to take action at this time in their lives. Many Boomers are tired of talking and want to DO something.
  5. They often want to mentor younger generations. Part of this relates to the Boomers moving into Elderhood, but it is also the nature of the style of this generation. They like to be leaders, and leaders need followers. I have personally found that Boomers make great mentors. Sometimes you may need to stroke their egos, but they have a lot of valuable life experience to give.
  6. They have fond memories of their youth. The Silent Generation (born 1925-1942) were “old” right from the start, never having much of a chance to shake things up in their youth. Generation X was latch-keyed from an early age and had a tough time as young adults. But Boomers were cherished as children and threw a wild party in their young adulthood. Let them tell you some stories, you might learn a thing or two.

It pains an X’er like me to admit: They may have talked about doing more than they actually did, but they still are great teachers. Lend them an ear and you might be surprised at what you find out.

  • http://www.jenx67.com jenx67

    Reading this makes me realize that I actually have some more bitterness to work through. =0 I don’t think I could possibly do #6. I’ve been listening to them my whole life. When are they going to listen to me? See. There I go. I sound so bitter…

    I’m sure I’ll work it out in time. A girl can hope. =)

    • http://blog.sohigian.com Dave Sohigian

      @Jen, I know, it’s tough. They do tend to preach. But it is worth the effort to listen.

  • http://bobbygreg.blogspot.com/ bobby greg

    Interesting.

    You say this:

    2. They are, for younger Gen X’ers and older Millennials, our parents.

    and

    6. The Silent Generation (born 1925-1942) were “old” right from the start, never having much of a chance to shake things up in their youth.

    Just a reminder that both mom and dad are members of the Silent Generation, and not Baby Boomers.

    Guess the three years difference in our ages means that you perhaps don’t remember some of the shaking-up of things that our parents did.

    But, I’ll wager that many folks from this generation (who were between 23 and 40 when I was born in 1965) played pivotal rolls in shaking things up enough that we now have a black president.

    Indeed, these fine folks all came from the silent generation:

    - Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - Malcom X
    - Bobby Kennedy

    Should I continue with the list?

    • http://blog.sohigian.com Dave Sohigian

      @bobby (aka bro’). Yeah, Mom and Dad are Silents, and they were the helpmates in the 60′s, but their generation has not produced a single President (McCain would have been) and their record in the legislature is, well, mixed. MLK, Malcolm and Bobby were certainly all Silents, and considered the best leaders of their generation, but they all met untimely ends. I agree they helped shake things up, but they, as a generation, were not the ones that had the moxie to rise up against the establishment. They include folks like Abbie Hoffman, Richard Alpert, Ken Kesey and others that definitely rallied against the establishment, but a vast majority of the people in the Silent generation were just too old and conventional to fight for real change in the 60′s. There were rebels (like the folks mentioned) that were leaders of the youth movement, but by and large they were the “Men in the Grey Flannel Suits” that wished they were young enough to really take on the GI Generation. They may have been leaders of the movement, but the youth (Boomers) made up the movement.

      The same is true today. Our President is Generation X. Most of the legislature are Boomers. But the people who will make the big changes as a generation over the next 10-20 years will be the Millennial generation, the young people. They will decide who to follow and what to believe. And they, like the GI Generation before them will get the credit for building a brave new world.

      Think about the GI’s, born 1901-1924. They were the youthful soldiers during WWII, not the top brass. The top brass and were of the Lost (1883-1900) and Missionary (1860-1882) generations. Although FDR and Macarthur (Missionary) and Patton and Eisenhower (Lost) get credit for leading the efforts in WWII, the generation that is called the “Greatest Generation” is the GI’s who fought in the war. The same is true for the Silents in the 60′s. They may have produced the leaders who rallied the “troops” rebellion, but the generation that took on the task was the Boomers, and, as usual, the victors get to write the history books.

  • http://bobbygreg.blogspot.com/ bobby greg

    should’ve written year and a half, not three years. feeling my age!

  • http://bobbygreg.blogspot.com/ bobby greg

    I also noticed that we’ve not had a president from the Silent Generation. And, it is quite doubtful that we ever will.

    Here’s more of a list from the Silent Generation:

    - Nina Simone
    - Bob Dylan
    - Jimi Hendrix
    - Peter, Paul, and Mary (all three)
    - The Beatles (three of four)
    - Richie Havens

    I really question the label of “were just too old and conventional to fight for real change in the 60’s”.

    From the political front to music to whatever else you want to discuss, I’m willing to say that the Silent Generation was most surely involved in the fight for change in the 60′s.

    Do the reading on who was in this class. I think you’ll be surprised.

    Now, I’m also willing to say that they might’ve “lost” their way once they got into their more conservative years, and concentrated more on things like the environment than civil rights, but I don’t think the contributions made by them during this pivotal can be ignored.

    Also, the three people that I highlighted above… perhaps some of the best and brightest of their generation… were assassinated. I’m not sure how any generation would react to that in later life…

    And, I’ll just leave you with a piece of what is surely a “don’t rock the boat” type of song:

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
    all right, all right

    * Even though I’ve always been more of a Buffalo Springfield fan, I think this is appropriate.

  • http://legionabstract.blogspot.com Matthew E

    Although it’s interesting: the U.S. has had seven G.I. Presidents and no Silent Presidents, but Canada has had only one G.I. Prime Minister (Trudeau, and he wasn’t a typical G.I.) and five Silent Prime Ministers (Clark, Turner, Mulroney, Chretien, Martin). I’ve often wondered why.

  • bobby greg

    because they shot bobbie.

  • susan

    Should listen to boomers? No, been there done that. If forced, will smile and nod head at appropriate intervals.

    • http://blog.sohigian.com Dave Sohigian

      @susan – that’s great! Like when you are in a foreign country: smile and nod, smile and nod. funny.

  • M. Stephen Lamb

    I’m just wondering if we should just make up our own mind who’s telling the damn truth? I mean, is the Boomer Al Gore right about climate change or is the Boomer Rush Limbo telling it like it is?

    Seems to me we ought to listen and cheer for what’s right, no matter if it comes from the mouths of babesor the graying aged.

    Seems to me, Dave, you’re simply promoting the idea that we ought to listen, or not to listen, to someone simply based upon their skin color, their gender or, in your thinking, their age.

    Frankly, Dave, I think you’re a generational bigot. A simple-minded, tiny little mushy generational bigot: Forget the truth, forget the facts, in your way of thinking, and simply notice the generational class of the speaker, the leader, The One you deem worthy of your attention.

    How utterly small and pathetic is this way of hearing and perception, Dave? You’re simply seeking the easy way, the bigot’s way of determining what is right and wrong.

    I’ll have no part of it, Dave. And neither should a bright guy like you, pal.

  • I.C. Land

    Smug Grungers listen? Never happen