Generations Explained: Understand Generational Cycles in just 10 Minutes

If you are struggling to understand the effects of generations on our society, this basic primer will give you a grounding for further research. Delivered in a fast-paced 10 minute video that explains each of the living generations and where they are headed

You have heard of Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and perhaps even the Silent and GI Generations. But do you know how they are fundamentally different from each other? Each holds specific values, particularly around what they believe is an ideal society. This 10 minute video is a basic primer on the current living generations and how to understand their cycles.

15 thoughts on “Generations Explained: Understand Generational Cycles in just 10 Minutes”

  1. thanks for the 10min sess david. good to hear yr voice again. mmm i’ll have to think about first responseis how useful is this but i think all info is useful. it’s just the weight u put on it. obviously what colours first is the anglo – afro differences then class and then ethnicity eg the values of US latino migrants entering the states in the last 20 years . and especially the spanish speaking cohort in california how that will tilt the the mean views of a generation. does this general analysis betray it’s aglo centric roots or does it move beyond. mmmm big hugs tony

    1. Tony,

      Great to hear from you. There are confounding factors for the generational research, but it definitely does cross between ethnic lines in the United States. Thanks for giving me an idea for a future post!

      I hope you are doing well down under. Let me know if you are up this way in the future!


  2. Excellent work, David. Well done. The visuals will assist a lot of people in understanding the theories of Strauss & Howe’s generational theories.

    If their theories predict so much, then, they are extremely relevant. I struggled with their theories until I transformed them into visuals. You’ve taken it to the next level and put it in a video. Perfect.

    Take care,
    Jim Goulding

    1. Jim,

      Thanks! I really like your website. I think that Strauss and Howe’s ideas are really powerful and I agree that visuals help get the information across more clearly.



  3. Hey Dave !

    Well, you post so many things on the facebook thing that I finally ended up looking at your
    GenX website and at this little video. I confirm that you’re not an “artist” archetype person: I
    can tell that there is no ideal in the way you painted the little papers you used on the video…
    the only importance was efficiency and clarity. Well, after all that can be an ideal by itself isn’t it ?
    Anyway, I have many questions about this topic but I guess I should first read carefully your website.
    Hope you’re doing all right in California, and keep juggling !
    Hope to see you again next fall.


    1. Great to hear from you Martin! I hope things are going well in France and I look forward to seeing you upon your return in the fall. You are coming back, aren't you?

  4. OK I don't get it. How are you dividing the generations into "parent" and "child" relationships? Are you presupposing a fertility cycle, that most people have their kids in the twenties? This pattern is changing as more (probably mostly Xers) are having their kids in their late twenties through their thirties and even forties. That means that the delineations between the generations vis a vis their relationships with each other are more fluid than can fit neatly on a chart.

    Example: My parents are just at the end of "silent", and I fit in the beginning of X. They were back-to-the-landers who were disgusted with the 60's protests and social disintegration and raised me in a loosy-goosy hippie community. I have been politically active with anti-nuke and environmental causes in my youth,I am an effective community organizer, yet rather floundering persoanlly in my twenties, finally found my love and had kids at 35-40. So I am a parent of one 2003 (Millennial?) and one 2007 (Homelander?) What are we, cuspers?
    I read your article in Renewal, yes I am a Waldorf parent and have played a bit with the idea of getting involved politically in the school but I am held back by what I perceive as Waldorf fundamentalism and my perceived need for the ideals and curriculum of Waldorf to adapt to a rapidly changing world. All these qualities are decidedly "X" qualities, but I don't see myself coddling my Millennial kids.

    There are so many factors that add into your analysis. It is very attractive and possibly useful, but what about the vagaries of circumstance, not the least of which is culture and race, or as in my case, being born of cuspers Silents and raising cusper Millens? I don't necessarily agree with the rebellion dynamic between generations.

    All for now – very pithy stuff, this. Interesting.

  5. I'm working my way through everything on your site, and finding it all fascinating. I've spent the last several days analyzing my experiences through a new filter. It's amazing how many things about being an X-er makes more sense now.

    I have only one question. I've seen a couple of references to the generations becoming shorter. If the average life span is getting longer, and the time spent in childhood is clearly longer, how can the generations get shorter?

    I'm curious as to how this change in lifespan will affect the relationships between the generations. For example, it seems obvious that your relationship with your kids will be quite different if you are in adjacent groups rather than two apart. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


    1. @Tina – glad you are enjoying the research. I have also wondered about whether the generational cycles are getting longer or shorter. Some argue that with technology speeding everything up that the cycles should be getting shorter. Others argue that with increased lifespans that the cycles will get longer. I think it will take several more cycles before anything really changes dramatically. Only time will tell.

  6. Honestly, now that it’s 2020, I don’t find it that accurate. I’m was born in 1998 which I consider gen Z. It just seems like it could be generalized to anyone like horoscopes. I think it would be interesting to update this theory now since several years have passed. Just my opinion.

    1. @Hannah – Generational theory is not about individuals, it is about large groups of people. Although individuals (especially those born on the cusps of generations) may or may not feel that they identify with their generational characteristics, the idea is that if a majority of people do, then generational theory still holds true. If you talked to elementary school teachers 10 years ago, you would definitely hear them discussing a big change in both the children and parents after we shifted from Millennials to Homelanders (aka Gen Z in some circles). The over-protection, focus on “grit” and following a prescribed path all moved to the fore as Gen X’ers became the dominate parental force. The Homelanders won’t really show their true generational characteristics until their 30’s or 40’s when they will rebel from all the expectations that had been placed on them earlier in life. Or at least that is the idea with generational theory, but only time will tell. “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” – Nils Bohr, Nobel laureate in Physics

  7. @Dave-What would likely happen in your opinion as a GenXer when the parental shift happens from GenX to Millennials when Homelanders dominate K-12? The over-protection would become an issue again as the 2020’s progress. I believe it would be another great change.

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