Many of us are becoming adults in our own right. Careers, significant others, adult hobbies and (yikes!) maybe even becoming parents have moved us towards #adulting, whatever that means. This can be scary, as we Millennials have spent a huge amount of our lives trying to abstain from the “boring” lives our parents had. And while it’s true that we may experience more career mobility than our parents and that we may have kids later in life than they did, it’s about time we take time to truly understand our Boomer parents.
In all likelihood, the parents of most Millennials came of age in the 1960’s or 1970’s, a historically chaotic time in American history. The events that made this time tumultuous are numerous, but they include the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, of Martin Luther King, of George Wallace, of Bobby Kennedy, of Malcolm X, various firebombings on churches, the Free Love Revolution, the Moon Landing, and so many other jaw-dropping events. They only became boring after were born, forsaking all kinds of vices to ensure your safety.
So, if you tell your mom, cheerfully, that you are going to a party, and she sounds paranoid about you taking drugs (even though you’re twenty-four and way too cool for smoking pot or whatever), she is just harkening back to her party days, when everything from cocaine to LSD to horse tranquilizers was available at parties. If you tell your dad that you are going to an Occupy Wall Street event, and he expresses misgivings, it’s because he was at the 1968 Democratic Convention protests in Chicago, standing amongst tear gas and police brutality.
If you ask career advice, and they cannot give much more than a cursory answer, well, that’s because the stakes of the professional world have shifted dramatically. There is so much more focus on tangible productive ability than ever before. In the past, careers were advanced because of a kind-of clubhouse mentality, where personal relationships took precedence over ability; today, if you can’t do that job, your friendships are worthless, and you fall behind.
That’s because the Boomer generation, the one our parts are all a part of, came of age in true world of experimentation. America experienced major growing pains during our parents’ formative years. The end result: us, and the world we live in. It’s highly refined, highly ethereal, and very fun and productive. But it’s also very different from the 1970’s. So give your parents a break. If they seem to worry too much, it’s because the world made them worry.
And maybe, instead of headed out to the bar with your buddies, take a day and crack open a beer with your dad, and ask about the time he saw The Who at Woodstock. It might not be all that different from the time you saw Muse at Lollapalooza.