Grandmother and granddaughterThe GI Generation. The Silent Generation. Baby Boomers. Gen Xers. Millenials. As time progresses, we have christened each new generation with a title to denote their place in history. Each generation is shaped by not only the influence of their parents and families but also the events and trends occurring around them. Often, this can create a tension between generations, as children choose and/or reject aspects of their own upbringing.

GI Generation (1901-1924) and the Silent Generation (1925-1945)

The GI Generation and the Silent Generation came of age during times of great duress at home and abroad. Global wars and flailing economies forced these generations to grow up quickly, and reinforced values of responsibility, duty, honor, and faith. This generation also gave birth to the Baby Boomers, the world’s largest generation.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Baby Boomers, unlike their parents and grandparents, were raised in an environment of progress and prosperity. Known for taking advantage of the vast opportunities available to them, Boomers are known for identifying strongly with their work and at times even valuing their careers and upward mobility at the expense of quality time with family and marital partners.

Generation X (1965-1980)

Gen Xers are known to be ambitious, independent, and resourceful. Raised during a period of rising divorce and remarriage, many Gen Xers were raised in single, blended, and split custody homes. Gen X children also witnessed Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Watergate, and many other important and formative domestic and international happenings. This generation tended to enter the workforce, marry, and have children later than their parents and grandparents, and also to move away from their hometowns in greater number than generations previous. Gen Xers are also known for their global mindset and for valuing diversity.

Millenials (1981-2002)

Millenials are indeed a diverse generation, both in race/ethnicity and familial experience. 25% of Millenials were raised in single parent households and 75% have working mothers. Millenials are close to their parents and deeply connected socially through the internet and the ubiquity of cell phones. Of course, they have been exposed to their fair share of national tragedies, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the shootings at Columbine, 9/11, and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Millenials are optimistic and self-confident, valuing work-life balance and diversity.

Although common values are held across generations, including family, education, and achievement, the ways in which these values are held or manifested may differ, leading to painful conflicts within families. Grandparents, parents, and children may hold similar values, and yet have different ways of honoring them.

Intergenerational issues can arise within any family system or within the workplace. Common conflicts can occur in many situation, including:

  • Parent/child conflicts at any age
  • Caring for both one’s children and aging parents
  • Grandparents raising grandchildren
  • Issues arising around milestones, including marriage and the birth of the next generation
  • Passing on of family rituals, traditions, and beliefs, including around religion, education, money, and marriage

If you and you family are struggling with intergenerational differences, contact Therapy Today Counseling and Counseling. Our therapists are trained in working with multiple family members; we can help you to resolve painful conflicts, moving forward with a deeper understanding of each other and the threads that connect you.

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