school and college to being full time grown-ups. Boomers had just
finished a period of fighting for social justice with Vietnam and
Watergate. Going from music with a cause to disco for decadence
to MTV. Boomers were still figuring out how to grow up, work
full-time jobs, and raise children.
When it came to raising children, Massey advises boomers
wanted their kids to have it better than they did; with all the
turmoil the boomers went through, from the ’60s to the ’80s,
they wanted to make it easier on their babies. This included new
wave parenting where you didn’t spank your kids and you let your
children debate with you as opposed to “Do as you’re told and
shut up.” And of course, “Everyone gets a trophy.” was supposed
to provide equality, fairness, and no one’s feelings get hurt. We see
how that turned out.
2. The Modeling Period. Between the ages of eight and 13, we
copy people, often our parents but also other people. Rather than blind
acceptance, we are trying on things like suits of clothes, to see how they
feel. We may be much impressed with religion or our teachers. You may
remember being particularly influenced by junior school teachers who
seemed so knowledgeable—maybe even more so than your parents.
This period was from 1990 through 2003. Parents of Yers in this
time frame went from hippies and yippies to yuppies. They became
self-indulgent individuals and couples who were working on living
the American Dream. With two cars in every household. Moving
from the apartment rental to the 2,000-square-foot single-family
house. We went on two or three vacations a year. We did it all on
hard work and climbing the ladder to success, right? Not exactly,
we did it through credit. We borrowed. When we maxed one credit
card, we opened another, and another. Also, we no longer cooked at
home. We didn’t sit at the kitchen table for structured family time.
Divorces rates were hitting 50 percent.
Let’s translate this impact on the Yers. So, they now copy their parents’ self-indulgence, lack of responsibility, and lack of commitment
in relationships. There is little or no family structure anymore. On
top of all that, they all got trophies, even if they performed badly.
In school, there were no challenges. We helped everyone pass so
they wouldn’t be socially maladjusted by staying back. And they got
whatever they wanted, because mommy and daddy had those magic
credit cards. Are we seeing the trend yet?
3. The Socialization Period. Between 13 and 21, we are very
largely influenced by our peers. As we develop as individuals and
look for ways to get away from the earlier programming, we naturally turn to people who seem more like us. Other influences at these
ages include the media, especially those parts that seem to resonate
with the values of our peer groups.
This period spans from approximately 2000 through today. In
the Socialization Period, the baby boomer parents have done more
than enough damage by the time these kids get into and graduate high school. They’ve now learned you have no rules to live by.
There’s no family structure. Many are latchkey kids as both parents
are working. There is no family time. You can get instant gratification with a credit card. (Now credit card companies are preying
on college students.) Televisions shows are “Beverly Hills 90210,”
“The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Simpsons”; oh,
and not let’s forget “Beavis and Butt-Head”! Shows about narcissistic, self-entitled, well-off kids who don’t have to take no for an
answer. Do I have to say more?
SIGNIFICANT EMOTIONAL EVENTS
As far as the Significant Emotional Events, the bad side included
• The Challenger explosion.
• Ozone layer hole found.
• Exxon Valdez oil spill.
• Ethiopian famine.
The good side of these events included the following;
• Technology advances (PCs were invented, the Internet was created).
• The economy was good (spend, spend, spend; on credit).
In addition to these influences, they experienced 9/11. This
event defines their generation the same as World War II defined
the Greatest Generation and President John F. Kennedy being
assassinated defined the baby boomers.
Despite what has been said about Yers, they are one of the most
socially and environmentally conscious and active generations to
come along. Eighty percent are actively volunteering in their communities. Hopefully they won’t be like the boomers who turned
their back on the environment and social justice in return for greed.
Another interesting note on Yers: A survey of millennials a few years
back asked what they wanted from their parents. The answer: Provide
direction and discipline; provide structure. Obviously, we boomers
were too interested in our own lives to pay enough attention to figure
this out. Maybe Yers would’ve turned out differently if we did.
As British/American author Simon Sinek indicates, this generation
was set up to fail. By whom? Us, their self-indulgent baby boomer parents. The same ones who complain about them. We, the 40 to 80 crowd
who can’t understand them and what motivates them. Can’t tolerate
their questioning authority, asking what’s in it for me? Not wanting any
structure (that’s why they do well working for companies like Apple,
Google, and Facebook). Any surprises here? All you have to do is follow
Massey’s algorithm over time and it’s not hard to figure out, what you
are is where you were when.
As my good friend Tiger Schmittendorf always advises, there is no
other generation in a parallel universe. They’re here now and making
their mark on the world. They are making their move to be in control
of their lives and future. They don’t need and are not listening to
previous generations telling them how to live their lives and shape
their future. Don’t get me wrong, they want to interact with us older
folk. They want to share life with us but not be told how to do it. So.
let’s take time, sit down, and listen to them. Let them provide us with
their perspective on the future, which they now own. After all, these
are our children; let’s love them, not loathe them.
Anthony Correia is a 40-year veteran of the fire service. He is the retired director of
the Burlington Township (NJ) Fire Department. Before that, he was fire chief in Warrensburg, Missouri. Correia is currently an active paramedic in Pennsylvania as well
as a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey. He has completed the Executive Fire Officer
Program as well as the Certified Public Manager program. Correia served as a chief
officer in both fire and EMS organizations. He is actively involved in many emergency
services related organization, both locally and nationally. Correia has experience in
volunteer, combination, and career organizations. He is an active educator for more
than 35 years. Correia is an active blogger and has two millennial sons with different views on life, which required him to learn more about the whole generation.