Summer with the Boomers: Grandparents who Rock
July 10, 2014
By Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff
Sometimes you send Grandma up with the kids to read books at bedtime and they spend all their time watching the Beatles on YouTube.
My six-year-old now knows the words to “Twist and Shout” and, like her grandmother, thinks Paul is a heartthrob.
Perhaps this is going on in your house this summer. The odds are good. As of next year, 60% of all grandparents will be Baby Boomers.
Consider for a moment the reality of Generation Z, (or Generation i, or Generation 2K, or if you prefer, Generation Homeland) hanging out with their Boomer grandparents. These post-millennials are called digital natives, having spent their entire lives connected. I’m pretty sure it was my six-year-old who suggested YouTube, even if it was my mom who typed the query. Together they make a powerful match.
The generation born after the year 2000 still doesn’t go by a name we can all agree on, and, to be fair, it’s still too early to know how this cohort will define themselves. But those Millennials born before them, between 1977 and 2000, whose college apps and careers have been the subject of much scrutiny, are more populous than even the Boomers. By some estimates, there are 80 million of them; 20% more than Generation X.
If it’s your Millennial child and Boomer parent heading to the Apple store together, then you may identify with a blog post in Psychology Today written by research psychologist Denise Cummins, “Why Gen-X Doesn’t Get Millennials…or Boomers”, in which she emphasizes the similarities between Millennials and Boomers:
“Gen-Xers tend to be highly independent and goal-oriented, focusing on getting the corner office and other trappings of success. Millennials and Boomers, in contrast, value purpose and meaning in their careers over money or power. This is sometimes summarized as “Gen-X lives to work, while Boomers and Millennials work to live.””
Citing a poll from the National Conference on Citizenship that said Millennials are also more civically engaged than Gen X was in its youth, Cummins (a Boomer herself) says Millennials “… have infused their unique brand of social activism with a cheerful optimism that is as rare as it is refreshing. Millennials don’t distrust authorities, as we did. Maybe that’s because the Boomers are now the authorities, and we’ve worked hard to keep their trust. We are proud of them—their savvy, their courage in the face of an increasingly uncertain world, and their determination to build a better future for themselves and the rest of us.”
Whatever the generational pairing, it’s clear Boomers have stepped into their roles as Grandparents will gusto. According to Grandparents.com, grandparents, a group comprised primarily of Boomers, lead 37% of U.S. households. Seventy-two percent think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life and 68% think being a grandparent brings them closer to their adult children They spend $52 billion a year on their grandkids and 21% put some of that into their grandchildren’s educations.
In some cases, it’s teaching a six year old about John, Paul, Ringo and George.
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