Last week Tom Brokaw hosted a documentary called Boomers$!. There are currently 78 million baby boomers in America, and they're the "largest, richest generation in history." They control 3/4 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, the White House, and Congress.
Indeed, and that's what's wrong with America.
The baby boomer generation is responsible for so many of society's ills it's hard to know where to start. Not only are they largely responsible for the economic mess we're in (which was the focus of Brokaw's documentary), their outlook on life can be characterized by one word: whiny. The following statement in yesterday's Politico is a perfect example: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not accustomed to the word she’s been hearing far more frequently in recent days: “no."
Author P.J. O'Rourke was the most honest baby boomer Brokaw interviewed. In Boomers$! he says, "We were stoned all the time, the sexuality was utterly irresponsible, utterly irreligious. We had no respect for any kind of authority -- we just left a trail of wreckage behind us."
Indeed they did, and part of this wreckage includes parenting -- as evident by O'Rourke's most telling phrase: "We had no respect for authority." This lack of respect did not end with the Woodstock years; it seeped into society to such a degree that it's become evident everywhere we turn: in businesses, schools -- and where it matters most: at home.
To be fair, the baby boomers' hearts were in the right place. They wanted to replace the old-fashioned parenting approach of "You'll do it because I said so," with a softer approach. The problem is that they threw out the baby with the bath water. For in their desire to be more understanding -- and do away with shaming and smacking (a good thing, to be sure) -- they blurred the line between adult and child, and the results have been disastrous.
Their biggest mistake was in trying to be their children's friends instead of their parents. Baby boomers don't like to moralize, so they don't moralize to their children. Instead they just tell their children to "do what they believe is right" without offering any kind of moral framework. Baby boomers also don't like to be told what to do, so they don't tell their children what to do -- which results in children having more leeway than they know what to do with. The natural outcome is that the kids rule the roost.
In short, we've witnessed a generation of children raising children. That's why defensive parenting exists -- because every parent knows, deep down, when he's lost control at home. But as I said in my earlier post, we shouldn't blame individual parents as much as society as a whole -- for it is society that has fostered the baby boomer mentality. Remember: Baby boomers control 3/4 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, the White House, and Congress.
I have great hope for the next generation. I've seen many parents who were raised by baby boomers who have become more old-fashioned in their parenting. This is a good thing. For while boomers got some things right -- in helping to tackle racism, for example -- they did not get the parenting thing right.
That's unfortunate -- but a good lesson has been learned. And anyone who picks up a copy of Reb Bradley's Born Liberal, Raised Right -- and takes it to heart -- can be part of the solution.
Note: The above analysis is a generalization. It doesn't mean that every single parent who hails from the baby boomer generation screwed up -- but this doesn't change the fact that the generation as whole steered America in the wrong direction.