Working backwards from Gen X, I must be Gen W. My parents were Gen V. With the turning of the earth, we Baby Boomers are now {trumpets and drumroll} the “Older Generation.” When did that happen?

I’m not entirely sure how it became our job to “understand” younger generations. I am of the opinion it is their job to understand us. They might learn a few things.

My 6th Grade class.

Gen X, my son’s group, are now in their forties. No longer young, they are an odd bunch. Many grew up convinced they had a date with destiny, that their birthright was The Good Life. Some realized achieving the good life would require work and education, but a big percentage didn’t get that message. Or, on hearing it, felt it had been incorrectly delivered. It was clearly meant for someone else.

I did my best to be a role model for the work ethic. I strove to be good at my job.

As a group, many people of my own and previous generations were obsessive about doing good work. Whatever we did, we did it wholeheartedly. As a generation, boomers believed in education. Were sure work would redeem us. We expected to be grunts before getting promoted.


Thus you can imagine with how much trepidation heard my son say “I don’t want to waste my life working all the time like you, my father, and Garry.” If he had been the only one from whom I heard these or similar words, it would not have been so alarming.

Say what? I realized — finally and rather late — that there’d been a serious, generational disconnect.


The “success will come because I want it” thing did not work out well for Gen X or Y.

My granddaughter’s Gen Y group seems focused on personal happiness. They are entitled to a stress-free life. Anyone who forces them to do stuff which they don’t enjoy is a bully. An abuser. What nonsense.

Clueless or not, reality will bite them in the ass. Ultimately, Generations X and Y won’t have parents or grandparents to run to for comfort and a quick loan. Unless they re-evaluate their direction, life is going to prove a huge disappointment. We want the best for them … but they have to make it happen. It isn’t free. Everything has a price tag. Pay up front or later, but pay you will.

On the positive side, if you do something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. Maybe that’s the most important part of the missed message.

Categories: Education, Life, Personal

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

52 replies

  1. I think if there is a reason why the younger generation seem lazy or unmotivated it’s because it’s so much more difficult to achieve what others could 20-50 years ago. In the 80’s, where I’m from, you could work at Safeway doing anything and make $15-20 an hour which could easily afford you a house and a life. To have that same life now, you generally have to get an education and then maybe it will work out. When the road ahead seems daunting, you kind of just tell yourself that it will all work out to make yourself feel better. Working a job becomes unmotivating when there isn’t much of a reward or if the reward is so far down the road. On top of that there’s all these distractions and easily accessible ways of entertaining ourselves that weren’t available before.


    • That’s true. It’s harder. MUCH harder. These days, hard work alone isn’t enough. It also takes luck and determination to keep trying when it seems pointless. On the other hand, sitting back on your haunches and whining isn’t going to help at all. The world turns, the economy changes. Each generation has to fight its own demons. My mother had the Great Depression and WW II. We had Vietnam and racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and a whole lot fewer professions available than there are now.

      I’m not arguing with how hard it is. I have a son and a granddaughter and they’re up against a hard place. Waiting for the good life to be handed to you as you smoke a bong and listen to some tunes, while complaining about how hard it is, that’s not going to fix it. Maybe nothing will fix it, but rolling over and playing dead is, and always has been, a losing strategy.


      • It’s definitely a losing strategy, assuming the game is to survive comfortably which seems to be the goal for most people. It’s much harder now for newer generations but it’s still way easier compared to most of human history. The part that might be more difficult is the mental aspect of it. The newer generations are programmed to be softer. I feel that I could not work like my mother and my uncles did and if I had to go back to the days when people worked in coal mines, I would consider jumping off a bridge.

        By the action of not wanting to work very hard or very much it almost indicates a lack of caring about living.

        I wonder if these generations of uninspired people are just part of the next step of evolution. The phasing out of humans to be replaced by technology or a human existence that is not centered around money. Ya I know, sounds like lazy stoner talk..haha.


        • I don’t understand it at all. The irony is that in their unwillingness to work from the beginning, many of these kids who are no longer kids find themselves earning poverty wages with no future. They are their own worst enemies and by the time they see it, it’s too late to fix it. It’s too broken. Sad. I’ve no idea why they thought they could have it all — without putting in the time.


  2. I was born in the last couple of years of the baby boomers. Us girls had only three choices of work – nursing, secretarial, or teaching. That was to tie you over until you found a nice man, got married and then your job was to have the 4 kids and be a good wife and mother. I did follow the nursing route. It wrecked my life. So I travelled and just worked as a nanny in London and waitressed and cleaned rooms in Austria. I had wanted to go to university and do graphics and design. Now my daughter is doing it. My dyslexic son is going great guns on his university degree in computer systems. That is the difference in my generation at least – here in provincial New Zealand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was true here too. When I started working in the late 1960s, the Help Wanted ads were divided into Female and Male sections. Women didn’t have careers … except they did. It was rare, but it happened. I didn’t even think about it. I just did what I wanted and let it fall into place. Apparently that’s what our entire generation did and things changed. Not enough, not completely, but definitely better than they were.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You know one of the reasons for the worst migraine attack I had last week was a total disconnect with my youngest sister who is 10 years younger to me. I loved her like a daughter and now the way shae talks and declares the new generation policy, it is so disheartening. I have learnt my lessons hard way by not to argue with them since it will increase my agony. Well put.


    • I don’t discuss stuff … not even with my son. He has a lot of opinions which, sadly, are based on his or other people’s opinions and he doesn’t want to know any kind of facts. His mind is made up. I don’t function well in an environment where opinions have no basis in facts. I’m the kind of person who researches everything to death and am horribly embarrassed if I get something wrong, but my son, my granddaughter — their whole crowd — just don’t care.


  4. I remember how eager I was to learn the job when I started at Mecca… boring as it may be. I wanted to do well, and by golly, within a few months, I’d become one of their best workers. Now we get an endless parade of young faces in the building who could care less about the job, who only want to learn how little they need to accomplish to skate by, and then spend the rest of their time bitching about how hard they’re being worked and how little they’re being paid. Yep, that’s our YOLOing, coddled, entitled, know-it-all, nomophobic Gen Y… or are they Millennials now? Hold on, let me Google that so I can impress you with my instant knowledge…


    • Everyone knows it’s a crappy job market. No argument. So when you finally GET a job, you’d think they would try really hard to do well at it … but they don’t. I don’t get it. I’m not sure if it is gettable. That’s where the attitude becomes the issue.

      I know the “lost generation.” Baby boom, Gen X. Gen Y??? Millennials? Let me know since I’m not hip enough to have all the details. Until Brokaw named them, my parent generation were just “the ones who fought WWII.” And mostly, especially in Europe, the best title you could give those who fought WWI was “dead and buried.” They were not only lost, they were entirely missing.

      I wonder what the Romans and Greeks called their generations? I’m sure they had some title for them. Everyone needs verbal shorthand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We were damaged goods from the get go. We READ when we very, very young. We had a sense of history when other kids were playing games.
        I was driven to succeed and refused to let go of the reins whenever there were setbacks.
        Those were the days, my friend..


        • I don’t know about the days. You and me, we were VERY focused on accomplishing our goals. Maybe it was culture, family tradition, or DNA. Some kind of hard wiring. If you think about it, it was what drew us together. I used to go to you for career counseling because you were the only one who seemed to understand.


  5. Ah yes, passion. I’ve had a few “jobs” where I had to “work.” Each time it stretched out interminably. Finding something that suits one’s passion is key… it’s not work, it’s play. Like a toddler… play, play, play until you drop from exhaustion, with dirty hands and feet, and a smile on your face. I believe part of the problem with the “youngers” is a lack of passion… or perhaps ingrained apathy?

    On a brighter note, pretty sure I’ve reached the old fart era… can remember hearing my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, all clucking about the poor work ethic of the younger gens. Pretty much one big circle… or perhaps spiral?


    • That’s the trick, to find work you love so you want to do it. I loved newspaper work. I never worked harder or enjoyed life more. I was glad to get up and start each day. Not every job was as joyous as that, but Garry, for example, loved his work. Until it turned sour at the end, he really loved what he did. He had an entire career of loving what he did for a living. That’s a gift.


  6. Unfortunately, my mother was before her time and felt that the world owed her something. Some of my siblings picked up her entitled attitude. Me and the other sibs set out to be the opposite of my mother because we didn’t know where she got that idea from. I know it wasn’t from my grandparents — that’s for sure. They were as confused as I. Just as unfortunately, one of my daughters seems to have inherited the same attitude, and I know it wasn’t from me giving her everything she wanted because we were poor as dirt and couldn’t even if we wanted to.

    Some people are just born this way I guess.


    • I don’t believe it was DNA, but maybe it was in the air, or the milk they got in school. I know there have been attitudes of entitlement in every generation. I think that’s why some people go into the business of crime, because it’s just another way to get what you want.


      • Yeah, I can’t say fer sure that it’s nature v. nurture, but when you have five kids growing up in the same house and some go one way while the others go another, it’s just a toss up as to what’s stronger. Like you said, maybe they just got some bad milk. I can go with that. 🙂


        • There were three of us, each of us turning out very different from the other. As if we weren’t related at all. Ditto with Garry’s brothers. Each of them very different. But I think that’s because parents aren’t the same with each child. Parents change a lot with each kid. My poor kid got everything. The best and the worse because he was the only one … most of the time.


  7. Boy! Do I understand this! As the oldest person on staff working with young twenty year olds, I have been walking around for months wondering the same thing – what am I missing! Until recently when I sorted it out and realized with 40 years of work experience, I am the more competent of the world group. Having realized that, I was able to cut the younger ones a break, although my expectations, standards, and work ethic remain the same because that is who I am. In the meantime, I am happily planning my retirement!


    • Retirement is a wonderful thing. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, I don’t know anyone who misses work. Many of us miss the salary … but not the clueless bosses and coworkers, the commuting, the getting up early. Plan with enthusiasm. I have no problem giving youth a break. I was stupid and young too. But I wouldn’t mind a little respect!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I could not agree with you more. Both my wife and I learned our work ethic from our parents and family. Personal fulfillment was secondary to earning a living and putting food on the table. We never ever took anything for granted. Those who lived through and understood tough times had the best attitude toward dealing with live and all of its disappointments and pleasures.


  9. Great post, Marilyn. I’m walking right beside you. Maybe I just didn’t pass along the message of how much I loved my work… Perhaps it’s not too late. 🙂


  10. I feel the need to comment, first because I am in my 40’s, and two, because I REALLY liked your post and agree! I did grow up thinking I had a “date with destiny”, still do, however, I also grew up knowing the value of work. Growing up in a small town on a farm surrounded by WWII veterans, we knew we were lucky but we knew how to work for what we wanted too. Anyway, thumbs up to you! Oh, and by the way, I had to look up what a memes was…


    • Just growing up on a farm would have been enough … the rest is “gravy.” Good for you 🙂 So many of us raised our kids so that they would have more than we did … and at least to some degree, it backfired. I wish I had done less and demanded more.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “It’s coming to me” seems to be a common theme today. We gave our children too much maybe, without making them work for it. I only bought a car when I had saved enough to buy it at age 20, We bought our daughter a used car at 19 so she could get to work, happy she had a job and was working. The world is upsidedown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never thought that getting less could possibly be good for you but it turns out, having to get your own “stuff” and not getting it all automatically wasn’t such a bad thing. If I have a single big regret, it was that I gave my kid too much too soon. Granddaughter too.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. All our children live close by too. They have a lot to learn but I find I can learn a lot from them too. It’s tough out there and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes with the way things are.


    • I learned a lot from my granddaughter and son. But they also need to learn a few things … much of it about paying your dues before you get the prize. Not because i say so, but because that’s the way the world works. Really. It isn’t like cajoling mom into buying it for you and you can’t make excuses to you boss for the deadlines you miss.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Why do we feel the need to name generations?


  14. My mum never really understood me and wanted me to grow up in her ideal of growing up, like marrying a nice boy from next door and doing all the things she did. dad never said much, he had to agree with mum I think.
    I never really had the time to think about it. I had four generations in one household, all growing up together. My two step children born 1961 and 1963 and my two own kids born 1969 and 1974. My oldest was autistic so that put a stroke through the invoice in any case. Not that the world had to revolve around him, but it makes a difference. I had two generations of kids, all in different stages of development so my solution: deal with it when it happens and always be one step ahead. Now No. 4 is married (although has been more or less for the past few years, only without certificate) and my job is done. Autistic son is still at home, but has a job and manages quite well independently, so I do not bother my head with the difference in generations. Having a jazzer as husband also keeps him in contact with the young jazz musicians, and they all have some sort of secret jazz music code/brain in any case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I no longer have the whole lot of them in my house, but they all live right around the corner. The youngest one seems to be getting some kind of grip on reality, but my son is still part of the lost generation. I think he always will be.

      I get tired of being told I don’t understand the younger generations. I understand them fine. They use words differently, but there’s nothing new about what they’re saying. Stupid is still stupid. Expecting life to drop all the goodies in your lap without working for them wasn’t a plan when I was a kid and probably wasn’t a plan back when the Romans ran the known world.

      I am also incredibly tired of hearing about memes and how cool they are. Posting platitudes with pictures on the Internet is not impressing me with the wit and wisdom of our offspring.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ahhh, I like memes. I think they’re funny. ^_^


        • They can indeed be funny. Or trite. And really annoying.

          What they aren’t is something new. We had them, just in different formats.

          We had signs. Samplers. Bookmarks. Stickers. We called them “sayings.”


          • No, you’re right, the idea isn’t new, but the medium is. Remember when emailing people a dozen or so “inspiring” or “funny” pictures used to be a thing? I’m so glad that’s a thing of the past and now people just send you a link to an annoying website with a dozen or so inspiring or “funny” pictures, Links are much easier to ignore.


            • I actually had to tell people to stop sending that crap. Not only was it a fantastic way to spread viruses, but it overloaded my inbox to the point of explosion. Memes are the same thing. Sometimes funny, somethings thought-provoking. As often as not, sappy and trite, or annoying. It’s the same thing with another name. Actually, I don’t think it had a special name. It was just stuff you got from friends — or forwarded to them.

              Liked by 1 person

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