Opher Segal
Author, Journalist, Producer

The Boorish Generation 

Each generation differs from those that came before. In recent years, it seems as though the generational ‘gaps’ are more like chasms.  Communication and relationships between Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), Millennials or Gen Y (1981-1996), Gen Z (1997-2010), and Gen Alpha (2011 –2025) are, to say the least, challenging. Long gone are the days when older people were respected for their wisdom and life experiences. In general, younger people view elders as irrelevant and out of touch. 

Traditional biblical teaching states,” Honor thy father and mother.” It is written not to love, but to respect. Something so fundamental and ingrained in human history as this verse, has sadly eroded to a point where it seems rolls are reversing. Parents and grandparents are kowtowing to their children and grandchildren. Parents are now concerned with pleasing their children rather than the other way around.  

To maintain some semblance of communication, parents are self-regulating their speech and behavior as to not be perceived as criticizing or looking stupid. Many times, parents and grandparents just keep quiet. In addition, the ever-evolving electronic media has been a huge disadvantage for older generations. Younger generations have been raised with and are extremely comfortable with this form of communication. They are texting rather than calling. The use of abbreviations and emojis can be like a foreign language.  

Parents want to feel as though they are somewhat of a priority to their children. They do not want to only be considered as a bank when money is needed or to babysit and run errand for their kids. It is painful for Boomers to see recent generations come off as self-centered and entitled.  

A short time ago, while having lunch with several close friends the subject of children and grandchildren came up. This group of men, ranging in age from mid-fifties to nineties were eager to share their experiences. It was as though we embarked on a journey of catharsis and group therapy. There were so many instances of disrespect, hurt feelings, and sad situations. It is as though there is an epidemic of multigenerational   disfunction. Their approval to unanimously retell some of their experiences is telling.  

My friend, a father of four adults and a grandfather of two, went through a very contentious divorce many years ago. At that time, he was awarded full custody of his children. He was a dutiful father, driving the kids to school, making lunches, he shopped, and cooked. Now, decades later, he is contending with health issues and is not as financially secure as he once was. Over the years the children have gravitated toward their mother who had inherited great wealth. She gave their children cars, homes, and cash. The children have conveniently been affected by selective amnesia. Even though he had taken care of them emotionally, physically, and financially for many years, as adults, they rely on their mother for all financial needs. His children now behave as though he does not exist. They have severed the connection with their father without explanation. He has tried to reach out to them many times. They are not interested. He is devastated. 

Another man, in his early sixties who, had been a good dad, said that he had run into a difficult position. He mentioned to his wealthy oldest son, that he could not afford the increase in his health insurance. His son’s response was a frigid, “you better not get sick!” The man said it felt like a slap across the face. 

Then the next man shared his experience. He is divorced and lives by himself. His son is in his forties and works less than a half mile away from his father’s home. When the older man had a sudden surge of extreme high blood pressure, he called his son and asked him to drive him to the hospital. His son said that he was not a taxi service and told him to take an Uber. After saying he was busy, he hung up. It was the only time the man had ever asked for help from his son. In the father’s time of need, it was just too inconvenient. 

The aging Baby Boomers, in the face of boorish and uncaring behavior, have remained quiet. Perhaps it is because they fear further disassociation. Many Boomers give and give without any reciprocation. Grandparents are expected to babysit or do favors at a moment’s notice. If they decline, they are made to feel guilty. The time has come for Boomers to speak up! Healthy relationships are symmetrical and reciprocal. By creating acceptable boundaries of what is to be tolerated and what is not, Boomers take back their self-respect and the respect of others.  

About the Author
Writer: Over 2,000 publications. Author: "Treasure to the Dead Sea Scrolls" Producer and host: "Kaleidoscope", Prime Time slot, 20 years+ Time / Warner Cable System. Akiva Award winner. Co-Produced television series, "Treasures of the Jewish World', aired for 8 years, on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) and much more. For additional information kindly get in touch with me.