I have been reading some really interesting ideas about how Baby Boomer parents created Millennials and how Gen Xers are raising the Gen Z children. Neat to think about how how life experiences influence parenting.
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AGE RANGES & CHILDREN
Okay, first let’s look at how t the age ranges of the Boomers and Gen X match up with the “kids” of today!
Figuring that most people have their kids between age 20 and 35 this is how the two groups shake out….
- Boomers (76 Million)- born between 1946 and 1964 … kids born 1966 to 1999
- Gen X (67 Million) – born between 1965 and 1980… kids born 1985 and 2015
The dates overlap because not all kids were born between these age ranges, but it gives us the general ranges (for exact dates, check out Customer Demographics, Age Ranges).
- 76 Million Boomers have had 89 Million Millenials
- 67 Million Gen Xers have had the kids born since 2001 (there are no numbers on them yet, we need the census to update this)
Because the Boomers were the huge generation born after the soldiers came home from World War II, they have had a big influence on many things from consumerism to parenting.
Boomers and Gen X Parents
So let’s think about how these groups were parented…
Boomers (born 1946-64)… They lived the “Leave It To Beaver”, “Mayberry” life. Two heterosexual parents, 2 kids (preferably a boy and a girl), Mom at home and Dad going to work. Dr. Spock authored the influential book, Permission Parenting “emphasizing loving care, physical affection, and a degree of deference to a child’s impulses.” source great article about why the Boomers are sociopaths (just kidding, sorta!)
Result… Rebellious, spoiled kids who had a lot of confidence that they were important. Added to that, because of the size of this group, new schools were built, teachers were trained and they embraced consumerism.
Gen X (born 1965-80)… This is my generation and we are for sure characterized as the latch key kids. Our parents were largely absent, with divorce rates rising and Moms heading back to the work force. We were sent out of the house in the morning and told not to come back until dinner. Tough Love parenting was in vogue and we were expected to act like little adults, to “be seen and not heard”.
Result… Independent, responsible kids who were able to take care of themselves. Because our group is so much smaller than the Boomers, we are sometimes called the forgotten generation. Interesting post about Gen X and consumerism.
How World Events Affected These Age Groups
Looking at world events that occurred during the formative years of childhood, let’s say 5-18 years old, let’s take the middle of each of these age ranges and look at what happened in their childhoods.
Boomers Childhood Events (1960-1977)
- Segregation fight, integration, segregation abolished
- Vietnam war
- Elvis Presley
- Oral contraceptives are approved for use
- Russia launches Sputnik satellite
- The Cold War
- John F. Kennedy President, We have a dream speech, Assassinated
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Civil rights activist, Assassinated
- Peace Corps Established
- Bay of Pigs, Cuban Embargo, Fidel Castro
- John Glenn orbits the earth
- Nelson Mandela arrested
- The Beatles
- Malcolm X
- Che Guevara, Argentine Marxist Revolutionary
- First space walk
- Bob Dylan
- West Germany
- Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated
- Irish “Troubles”, Bloody Sunday
- The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin
- Richard Nixon President
- Golda Meir becomes the first female prime minister of Israel
- Moon Landing, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins
- Manson Family
- Diana Ross, Jackson 5
- Apollo 13 astronauts were saved – Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert
- Kent State shootings
- Watergate scandal
- Munich Massacre… eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich are murdered after eight members of the Arab terrorist group Black September
- Roe v. Wade: The U.S. Supreme Court overturns state bans on abortion
- World Trade Center opened in NYC
- Secretariat wins the Triple Crown
- Special Education mandated federally
- Elton John, Queen
- OPEC oil embargo, gasoline rationed
- Happy Days TV show airs
- Nixon resigns
- Altair 8800 released (first readily available computer)
- Microsoft founded
- First Cray supercomputer
- Apple is founded
- Jethro Tull, Peter Frampton & Sex Pistols
- Space Shuttle program started
- Jimmy Carter President, pardons Vietnam draft dodgers
- Atari computer games start
- Bee Gees
There are a lot of great things going on here. Feminism is growing, the space program is booming, birth control and abortion rights are allowing for more sexual freedom and computers are coming onto the scene.
Gen X Childhood Events (1978-90)
- Richard Chase, Ted Bundy, Hillside Strangler, John Wayne Gacy (serial killers)
- Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski starts bombing
- Jim Jones, The People’s Temple Jonestown mass suicide
- Cleveland, OH is first US city to go into default
- Brenda Ann Spencer, first school shooter kills 2 and wounds 9
- Iranian Revolution under the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran Hostage Crisis
- Etan Patz, first “Milk Carton Kid” is kidnapped
- Michael Jackson
- The Who concert disaster: Eleven fans are killed during a crowd crush for unreserved seats
- Eradication of Smallpox
- The United States Olympic Hockey Team defeats the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Winter Olympics, in the Miracle on Ice
- Mount St. Helens volcano erupts and kills 57
- The US boycotts the Moscow summer olympics
- Ronald Reagan President, attempted assassination
- Aids epidemic starts
- Sandra Day O’conner, first woman appointed to the Supreme Court
- MTV launches
- Rolling Stones, The Police
- The Chicago Tylenol Murders
- Severe recession begins in US
- The Space Shuttle Challenger goes on its maiden voyage
- Sally Ride becomes the first woman in space
- Assorted nuclear power plants have trouble ranging from failed automatic shutdowns, melting cores and the release of iodine-131
- GPS becomes available to everyone
- Vanessa Williams is crowned the first African American Miss America, loses title when nude pictures are exposed
- Invasion of Greneda
- Satanic Panic – Teachers at the McMartin Preschool are charged with Satanic ritual abuse; the charges are later dropped as completely unfounded
- Bruce Springsteen, Metallica
- Band Aid, concert to combat famine in Ethiopia
- New Coke debacle (may have been the worst day of my Mom’s life!)
- Live Aid, concert to combat famine in Ethiopia
- Cruise ship Achille Lauro is hijacked in the Mediterranean Sea by four heavily armed Palestinian terrorists
- The first Nintendo is sold
- Ireland continues its “Troubles”
- The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes, with schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe on it
- Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster kills over 4,000 people
- Hands Across America to fight hunger and homelessness
- Iran-Contra Affair: Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, start shredding documents implicating them in selling weapons to Iran to help fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua
- U2, Rick Astley
- First Starbucks
- The first computer worm (virus)
- H. W. Bush President
- Stockton schoolyard shooting: Patrick Edward Purdy kills five children, wounds thirty and then shoots himself
- U.S. President George H. W. Bush bans the importation of certain guns deemed to be classed as assault weapons
- Exxon Valdez oil tanker spills 240,000 barrels of oil after running aground
- Friday the 13th mini-crash, stock market plunges 190.58 points after the junk bond market collapses
- US invades Panama
- U.S. President Bush calls up U.S. military reservists for service in the Persian Gulf Crisis
Serial killers, school shootings, stock market and Challenger crashes, nuclear reactors misbehaving and invasions. I promised I looked for optimism, but all in all things were a bit bleak.
Boomers Versus Gen X
Okay, seeing all these and knowing that Boomers were raised in a time of social change and optimism, it is no wonder they are more hopeful and motivated. Gen X’ers were exposed to less progress and change, setting their world view as less hopeful and more practical.
Boomers and Gen X Parenting Styles Wrapup
I find all of this super interesting, especially as I see my kids growing up and entering the workforce. I have two younger ones at home and one that is now on her own.
As a Gen X Mom, I can see my big girl’s frustration with the older Millenial gals at her work who expect things to be sunshine and rainbows all the time while she just digs in and does the work.
OF COURSE, these are all broad generalizations based on birth dates, but there is enough great info out there to be able see some through-lines to how people were raised and how they are raising their kids!
Reality Bites Back: To Really Get Gen Z, Look at the Parents – Super interesting article about how the Gen X Parents are raising Gen Z kids.
A Boomer Parent’s Apology to Millennials – Gives a good parenting overview from the Boomer perspective
How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America – Interview with Author Bruce Gibney
What The Hell Are We Going To Do About The Boomers? – Interesting article about how we are going to have look after this HUGE aging population.
How baby boomers became the most selfish generation – Interesting post about how Neoclassical economic theory turned the US into a selfish nation.