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.
- 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.
- 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?).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.