Boomers And Millennials: Do You Remember When?

Our world is changing in more ways than we may realize. The change is not only from what we can see such as the massive focus on Green Issues and Clean Water. It has shifted from the concept of We to Me.

This begs some telling questions. Is our technology evolving while our social skills are devolving? Have we traded in our personal family skills like face-to-face interaction and learning to be polite, for a Social Media Family teaching us being provocative gets you seen and followed?

Is Rude the new social leader to be admired and emulated?    

It appears our society has shifted from “the reward is given when the work is satisfactorily completed” to “pay me first and I’ll do it later.”

It appears our society has shifted from “the reward is given when the work is satisfactorily completed” to “pay me first and I’ll do it later.”

I remember my dad asking me to do something and me telling him I would, “do it when I got around to it, later.” He said okay, walked away, and returned a few minutes later with a round piece of cardboard the size of a quarter with the words ROUND TOIT written on the front and back. “Here’s your round toit,” he said. “Now do it!”

Today, it is buyer be aware on a new level because laws, rules, and regulations are discarded for emotions.  It is now accepted to pay someone to try perfunctorily, not to perform satisfactorily.  And, one of the biggest changes currently trending is the inability to wait for an earned reward. It has been replaced with immediate gratification.

Immediate gratification has been taught to the internet generation who now think it is the norm.

According to Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage Ages Birth to 2 Years, and Dr. Erik Erikson’s Stages of Social-Emotional Development, there are Major Characteristics and Developmental Changes as a child changes. Dr. Piaget’s are listed below.

  1. The infant knows the world through their movements and sensations.
  2. Children learn about the world through basic actions such as sucking, grasping, looking, and listening.
  3. Infants learn that things continue to exist even though they cannot be seen (object permanence).
  4. They are separate beings from the people and objects around them.
  5. They realize that their actions can cause things to happen in the world around them.

Piaget’s stage number two is the immediate gratification stage of a two-year-old and coincides with Dr.  Eric Erikson’s stage number four.  At these stages, children demand, and must immediately have those demands met because they cannot focus on anything else until they get what they want. Have you ever tried to distract a hungry two year while preparing their food? Sometimes the easiest thing to do is give them a cookie or your cell phone….Yeah, your cell phone, because your smart-phone is full of immediate gratification meant to distract.

Perhaps now you know where I am going with this article.

When I was a special education teacher who taught the profoundly emotionally disturbed in a special “last resort” school setting one of the most difficult things to teach my students was working for their success. Waiting to reap the rewards DUE to them. No one got a trophy for just showing up. However, rewards were many while the students adjusted to the idea that they must first perform, not with tantrums but with work ethics, to get a reward.

The big change came in these students when they no longer wanted immediate stars on their papers or the reward of trading in accumulated stars for a bigger reward at the end of the week. The change came when the reward was knowing they could do whatever was required of them without immediate gratification. They emotionally matured, began to interact with others in a positive way, and were ready for the regular classroom, which is the precursor to the future workplaces.

These maturation characteristics are something most Millennials do not understand and most Boomers take for granted. It appears the new thought form is, “Why should I wait when I can demand it now and my polite parents (who do not want to be embarrassed in public and are afraid of the consequences for disciplining me) will give it to me if I persist.” Have our children trained us? Have they learned how to train us from “facts concerning their rights” on the internet?

Young Boomers interfaced with many people to uncover opinions and will use multiple avenues of research to find the facts. Young Millennials google for online facts, many of which are only commentary.

Boomers learned how to use their imagination for entertainment and check their emotions when playing unsupervised sports. Boomers played outside on their own with limited if any supervision.

Millennials have regulated playdates, sports, and hobbies. They are seldom left outside unsupervised or to their own devices. Is it because they have not learned the social skills necessary to survive in this world. Have they not learned to never talk to or take candy from a stranger, or to wander off from the group. Do they not have Best Friends who are always by their side? Has their group not learned to stay together and watch out for each other? Have they not learned there is safety in numbers?

These are survival skills learned from peer social interaction, and family values, not from books. 

Those people who were born from the 30’s to the 60’s will be the last generations who played in the street after school, on the weekends, or during the holidays. During their childhood, they got “exercise” not from a gym, but from playing outside or on playgrounds. They played until they were tired, not until their hour of supervision was up.

Boomers will be the last generation to play “hide & seek” outside at night with no worries or fear of anything bad happening to them.

Yet, Boomers are also the first generation to plug into the internet. Yes, they actually started it all.

It was the Boomers who first played video games and the last to record songs off the radio onto a cassette tape. The generation of Tom & Jerry, Looney Toons, & Captain Kangaroo was the first to learned how to program a VCR before anyone else and the first to move from playing Atari to Nintendo.

The Boomers traveled in cars without seat belts or air bags, lived without cell phones and caller ID.

When they were growing up Boomers did not have fax machines, flat screens, multiple televisions through the house, surround sound, I pods, Facebook, Twitter, computers or the Internet. Yet, they had a great time.

The Greatest Generation pushed their fledgling Boomers out of the house and into jobs.

Boomers knew that without a job there was no money. No money meant no place to live or food to eat. They knew their government would not take care of them from cradle to grave. It was called tough love. Some sored to great heights.

If the Great Depression parents of the Boomers are remembered as the “Greatest Generation” will the Boomers be remembered as the “Polite Generation” or, perhaps the “Accommodating Generation” who accommodated their children beyond adulthood?

I move that Boomers be remembered as the Explosive Generation because they were the trail-blazers who started the world-wide Internet Explosion while still remaining human-interactive. And, now they are dealing with the internet-family fall-out. What comes to mind are age-old sayings like, Too Much of a Good Thing is a Bad Thing and Everything in Moderation.

Many Millennials are very productive and a real asset to society. But, what is a Boomer to do with their unproductive, unmotivated Millennials?

Boomers, are your millennials living in the basement? Why? Perhaps you, as an enabler, are their biggest problem. Send them outside to play! You survived. So will they.

Article Research:


Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos
Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos
Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos is the award-winning author of Surviving Cancerland, and co-author of Dreams That Can Save Your Life. She’s a three-time cancer survivor, and co-publisher/editor of WEBE Books Publishing. Her dreams diagnosed her illness as seen on Dr. Oz, Doctors, NBC News, American Express Open, in Newspapers and magazines. She’s a Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, TV/Radio Host/Producer- Dreaming Healing on DV7Radio/TV Network, Wicked Housewives On Cape Cod™, Kat Kanavos Show, Internationally Syndicated Columnist in BIZCATALYST 360°, Dream Columnist in Positive Tribe Magazine, and Desert Health Magazine, Keynote Speaker, Performance Coach who taught Special Ed & Psychology @USF, and Lecturer who promotes patient advocacy and Spiritual guidance. She is co-author to the inspiring books; Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change and Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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  1. Reading this was interesting to me as I am also of that in-between generation. I can feel some of the frustration on both ends – I am the parent of a newer generation and I can feel how much the internet has created this instant gratification. I hate it but then I also feel unsure of how to shift it…..

    I also had the privilege of playing outside long hours and i tried to give my girl as much of that as I could.

    Enabling is a problem for sure…..not just for the boomers but for ongoing generations as well!

    • Anita Kaiser you are so right about there being frustration on both sides. Loud Claps to you for allowing your girls to play outdoors. They learned important life skills from that. After reading so many wonderful comments like yours I have come to the conclusion the only thing more difficult that being a child is being a parent. Thank you Anita for your comment.

  2. I love round toit and yes remember that so well. As a baby boomer , I relate and so true about Gen Y they believe the world owes them I have a friend who finds employing them a real challenge. So different to how I was brought up to me. Great thought here xo

    • Thanks for your comment Suzie Cheel. Yes, I lost my Round-toit but I guess I didn’t need it anymore. The point was made and the lesson was learned. Thanks again for your comment.

  3. Holy Moly Kat you got is SO right!!! As boomers we learned how to interact socially in real time in real places, not through a device. There is something to be said for connecting human to human. There is even more to be said in unplugging, but I will leave that to you for another article 🙂 Along with respecting others. This was a really great read and as a boomer I can say it is really true.

    • Thanks for your comment Candi Parker. Humans connecting to humans face-to-face is a skill we must continue and cultivate in our children and grandchildren. How did you know I was working on another article? LOL! Thanks again for your input.

    • Hi Raissa, yes there was GenX between these two generations and we are so happy to hear from them in the comments because as the Silent Generation they are allowing us to hear what they have to say. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. They are important.

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