This is How the Greatest Generation Ruined the Baby Boomers (2022)

The following is an excerpted taken from A GENERATION OF SOCIOPATHS: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Gibney, published March 6, 2018, by Hachette Books.

The popular television show Leave It To Beaver, which debuted in 1957, provides a fair portrait of Boomer childhood. The show’s utter lack of imagination was both its artistic vice and sociological virtue. Compared to today’s operatic contrivances and reality television, Beaver was pure anthropological rigor. The subjects of study, the Cleaver family, were studiously unremarkable: two parents (Ward and June), two kids (the Beav and Wally; presumably the statistically required fractional additional child would have been unsettling to display), plunked down in a suburban house enclosed, inevitably, by a white picket fence. Ward was a World War II veteran who had attended a state college, presumably on the GI Bill, and worked at a trust company; June ran the house. The Cleaver children were both Boomers, notionally born in 1944 and 1950, and raised in ways that would have been instantly familiar to their peers on the other side of the set – and alien to their grandparents. For above all, Ward was a soft touch, a sharp contrast to his own father, an ancien régime monster of discipline and corporal punishment.

(Video) A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by author Bruce Cannon Gibney

Childrearing: Dawn of TimeAD 1946

If the oldest Cleaver’s methods shock now, that was not the case for most of human history. Grandpa Cleaver’s methods were those by which children had long been raised. The old system was not without its grim logic. Because of high infant mortality – even in the 19th century, it was not uncommon for 20% of children to die before age 5 – parents saw no reason to invest substantial material or emotional resources until it was clear a child would live. Should a child survive, parents would set themselves not to the arrangement of playdates and other diversions, but to the production of a miniature grown-up, conformed to adult notions of virtue and industry, ready for near-immediate employment. Dialogue with children was unnecessary and motivation best supplied by the stick.

Even more enlightened approaches, which began appearing in the 17th century, were unforgiving. John Locke, famous now as the expositor of the social contract (something the Boomers would gleefully rip up), was more renowned in his time as a childcare expert. His Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), progressive though they were, inclined toward discipline (a word appearing an average of twice a page in my edition of Thoughts). Locke’s goal had been to produce “virtuous, useful, and able men” by the “easiest, shortest and likeliest means,” and that certainly did not entail pampering of the kind the Boomers received.iv

(Video) 10 reasons Baby Boomers are the worst generation

The behaviorists of late-19th century America, whose thinking dominated the rearing of the Greatest Generation, shared Locke’s goals. They had only to look at the country industrializing around them to know how Locke’s 17th-century process might be improved. Locke’s character-forming exercises, which depended on weird exercises involving leaky shoes and hard beds, were too haphazard for the modern world. Henceforth, good children would be manufactured by a rationalized process of positive and negative reinforcement, delivered immediately, and unburdened by Locke’s philosophical meanderings about human nature. In 1899, “less sentimentality and more spanking” was the order of the day, according to G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University, psychologist, and childcare authority. If children didn’t like it, that was beside the point. One did not ask a widget whether it approved of the means of its production. Why should children be different?

Like Hall, Dr. Luther Emmett Holt of Columbia University favored the scientific rearing of children and his views enjoyed enormous influence. Holt’s The Care And Feeding of Children (1896) was a best-seller, eventually repackaged by the Government Printing Office and widely distributed as a sort of state-sanctioned guide for childcare. Like factory workers and farm animals, children were not to be indulged, they were to be managed. While the specifics of these behaviorist texts differed from prior practice, the central insights about child care remained the same until the 1940s: children were to be formed according to their parents’ wishes and society’s needs, with parenting a matter of coercing useful behaviors, instead of catering to childish whims. Given the bottomless thrift, industry, and manners of the Greatest Generation, perhaps these ideas weren’t meritless so much as victims of excessive zeal.

Dr. Spock and the Rise of Permissive Parenting

(Video) George Carlin Whining Baby Boomers

Rigor was therefore the dominant practice for American children until Benjamin Spock changed things in an instant. Spock was, like Locke, a trained physician, with a specialty in pediatrics. With the assistance of his wife, he produced The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946, in time to guide Boomer upbringings. A best seller of tremendous proportions, it sold 500,000 copies in its first six months, and in the half century following its printing, was surpassed only by the Bible in sales (or so the story goes). A contemporary poll of American mothers showed that 64% had read Spock’s book and even those who didn’t own a copy couldn’t help but absorb its precepts; excerpts cropped up everywhere, with snippets even appearing on I Love Lucy and implicit in Beaver. The defining text of Boomer youth came from Dr. Spock, not Kerouac or Pirsig.

The Commonsense Book’s treated every imaginable topic, but its core injunctions were always the same: that parents rely on their own instincts and accommodate children’s needs wherever reasonable. In a radical departure, the Commonsense Book even strove to comprehend a child’s worldview from the perspective of the child himself, a task conservatives viewed with apprehension. In the preface, Spock stated that his “main purpose in writing [his] book was to help parents get along and understand what their children’s drives are.” Older traditions could not have cared less about “understanding” a child’s motivations.

(Video) Forget the Boomers, I Blame the Silent Generation

Unlike his predecessors, Spock did have psychological training and he disdained the old fixation on discipline and distance, instead emphasizing loving care, physical affection, and a degree of deference to a child’s impulses. His attitude towards toilet training is instructive. Previously, experts advised a regimented approach, with children to be trained at three months (one wonders how) and evacuations taking place on a set schedule, Taylorism for tots. This, Spock believed, was an exercise both destined to fail and that risked the development of certain neurotic compunctions, like an anal-retentive personality overly fixated on tidiness and orderliness, though likely to be productive and deferential to authority (e.g., the Greatest Generation). Instead, Spock encouraged parents to let children set their own defecatory timetable, a system not without its own dangers. Freud had warned that indulgent toilet training could lead to an anal-expulsive personality, one that proceeded from literal to figurative incontinence, personalities of messiness, disorder, and rebelliousness (e.g., the Boomers).

Part of Spock’s relative leniency came from his radically optimistic views on human nature, his belief that children would grow up well so long as their parents provided a good example. Spock wrote that “discipline, good behavior and pleasant manner…You can’t drill these into a child from the outside in a hundred years. The desire to get along with other people happily and considerately develops within [the child] as part of the unfolding of his nature, provided he grows up with loving, self-respecting parents.” Two thousand years of parenting experts would have disagreed; parents most definitely could drill habits into a child, with the notion of relying on a child’s good nature to achieve the desired results being the very definition of insanity.

Cultural conservatives predicted that America would collapse in lockstep with discipline’s decline, and they were not entirely wrong. Norman Vincent Peale, a preacher famous for writing The Power of Positive Thinking, characterized Spock’s method of childrearing as “feed ‘em whatever they want, don’t let them cry, instant gratification of needs.” Peale blamed Spock for helping create the culture of permissiveness in the Sixties and he was not alone, though Peale and other critics failed to consider Spock’s text as a whole. The Commonsense Book did allow for spanking as a last resort – it just preferred to deploy gentler options first. Still, in missing these nuances, the conservatives might have proved their point. Spock’s book was not supposed to be read front-to-back like a novel, but topically, like a guidebook, consulted to resolve a particular problem on a particular day. To the extent this structure made it possible for parents to overlook a few admonitions about laxness, Peale was inadvertently correct.

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Excerpted from the book A GENERATION OF SOCIOPATHS: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Gibney, published March 6, 2018 by Hachette Books, a division of Hachette Book Group. Copyright 2017 Bruce Gibney.


Are baby boomers The Greatest Generation? ›

The Greatest Generation and Other Demographics

Generally speaking, the Greatest Generation are the parents of the "Baby Boomers" and are the children of the "Lost Generation" (those who grew up during or came of age during World War I).

What impact does the baby-boom generation have on society? ›

The sheer size of the baby-boom generation (some 75 million) magnified its impact on society: the growth of families led to a migration from cities to suburbs in the postwar years, prompting a building boom in housing, schools, and shopping malls.

What was the happiest generation? ›

Millennials emerged as the happiest and most fulfilled workers in a recent survey from GoodHire – with Gen Zs being labelled the unhappiest. The research surveyed full-time employees from varying "working generations," namely Generation Z (18-24), Millennials (25-40), Generation X (41-56), and Baby Boomers (57-75).

What is a potential problem facing the baby boomer generation? ›

As baby boomers age, they must deal with the challenges of aging. That is why healthy living and regular check-ups with your doctor are more important as time goes by. Age is a risk factor for several chronic conditions, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

What is the smartest generation? ›

Gen Z is also the smartest and best educated generation. Having an unlimited wealth of information at our disposal has not gone to waste. In America, 57 percent of Gen Z is reported to have enrolled in a two-year or four-year college, compared to 52 percent of Millenials and 43 percent of Gen X.

Which generation is the most successful? ›

Baby Boomers lead the pack when it comes to overall generational power, capturing 38.6%.

What is the average age of death for baby boomers? ›

When the first Boomers were born, the average life expectancy was 63 years old. Today, Boomers can expect to live to almost 79 years.

What are some negative consequences of the baby boom? ›

Negative impact on employment

These effects cause a decline in young males' income relative to workers in their prime, a higher unemployment rate, a lower labor force participation rate and a lower college wage premium among these younger workers.

Why do baby boomers have so much? ›

Boomers benefited from the post-World War II economy, it stated, which saw declining tax rates on high-income households and a strong stock market. They held onto these savings in the face of low interest rates and a declining pension system.

Is the silent generation still alive? ›

The Silent Generation is the demographic cohort following the Greatest Generation and preceding the Baby Boomers. The Silent Generation is generally defined as people born from 1928 to 1945. By this definition and U.S. Census data, there were 23 million Silents in the United States as of 2019.

Are baby boomers lonely? ›

According to the 2014 General Social Survey, about 8% of baby boomers reported feeling lonely often, compared to about 7% of the silent generation and 2% of millennials. Senior women and seniors with little finances, who are less likely to cohabitate are the most affected by loneliness, Adamy and Overberg report.

What jobs do Gen Z have? ›

The highest rated job for Gen Z employees is corporate recruiter, with a 4.79 rating on a 5-point scale.
The 10 jobs rated most highly by Gen Z workers, according to...
  • Corporate Recruiter. ...
  • Marketing Manager. ...
  • Social Media Manager. ...
  • Data Scientist. ...
  • Product Manager. ...
  • IT Specialist. ...
  • Account Coordinator.
6 Sept 2022

Why are baby boomers not retiring? ›

The financial upheaval caused by COVID-19 is responsible for some of the apprehension. More than two out of 10 baby boomers said the pandemic has made them delay retirement because they feel less financially secure.

What year will most baby boomers retire? ›

In 2011, that first round of Baby Boomers—those Americans born between 1946 and 1964—turns 65. From now until 2030, 10,000 Baby Boomers each day will hit retirement age. Millions will begin to officially retire, collect social security checks and go on Medicare.

What are the baby boomers known for? ›

Baby Boomers represent the 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964. They were born during the post World War II baby boom. They rejected and redefined traditional values. They are also the wealthiest, most active and have the most disposable income for food, apparel and retirement programs.

What generation is the hardest working? ›

Millennials are arguably the hardest working generation in the workforce today, albeit how they approach work looks drastically different than their older counterparts. Boomers typically approach work in a hierarchical structure.

What generation is the easiest? ›

According to many baby boomers (those born in the early 1940's to the mid 1960's) millennials have it the easiest!
Average age that each generation started saving regularly
Baby Boomers31 years old
Generation X29 years old
Millennials/Generation Y27 years old (4 years difference)
8 Mar 2018

Why is Gen Z the loneliest generation? ›

Either way, overstimulation is leaving Gen Z with less time to connect, making them feel lonelier. When it comes to social media, studies show that very heavy social media users are significantly more likely to feel alone, isolated, left out, and without companionship. Social media has caused a comparison trap.

What generation holds the most wealth? ›

Of course, Baby Boomers are still worth nearly eight times as much. The older cohort saw their wealth increase roughly 28% to over $71 trillion since the pandemic began, while Gen-X saw a 65% jump to roughly $42 trillion. Millennials still hold far less wealth than previous generations did at similar ages.

Why is the Silent Generation called that? ›

Traditionalists are known as the "silent generation" because children of this era were expected to be seen and not heard. They're those who were born between 1927 and 1946, and they average in age from 75 to 80 years old in 2018.

Why do new generations look younger? ›

It's all because every person has their own biological clock, that rarely coincides with their real age. American researchers have come to the conclusion that biological aging in recent years has been happening more slowly, which is why subsequent generations stay younger looking longer.

Which generation has the longest life expectancy? ›

Science has revealed that those in the forties and fifties are likely to live longer. The bad news is, that you're likely to be living those extra years in poorer health.

Will baby boomers live longer than their parents? ›

(Although covid deaths in 2020 caused a drop by 1.5 years).

Even those with disabilities are expected to extend their lives by up to 8.6 years. Despite the fact that baby boomers are projected to live longer lives than their parents, they will likely be less healthy, researchers say.

How many boomers are still alive? ›

According to the US Census Bureau, US boomers will remain the second-largest population group in 2022, comprised of 69.6 million people ages 58 to 76.

What does a baby boom do to economy? ›

Baby boomers hold a large amount of the wealth in the U.S., making them a prime market segment. Baby boomers are gradually retiring, boosting demand for—and investment opportunities in—healthcare, elder care, medical devices, and related industries that cater to that demographic.

Will baby boomers retirement Affect economy? ›

The Bottom Line. While baby boomers are working longer, their inevitable retirement will have widespread effects on the American economy. Expect high impacts on consumer spending, as retirees not only produce less but also consume and spend less.

Why did the baby boom end? ›

The baby boom was most prominent among educated and economically active women. The baby boom ended with a significant decline in fertility rates in the 1960s and 1970s, later called the baby bust by demographers.

What do baby boomers buy the most? ›

Here are a few reasons why these seven categories are most popular among baby boomers:
  1. Wine. Baby boomers are very social and often consume wine in social gatherings or small events. ...
  2. Books. ...
  3. Healthcare products. ...
  4. Skincare. ...
  5. Household goods. ...
  6. Appliances. ...
  7. Cosmetics.
28 Dec 2020

Where do most baby boomers live? ›

New York dominates the top 20 zips with the largest baby boomer population. The most populous city in the U.S., New York is the top boomer location, boasting the largest population of baby boomers.

What percentage of baby boomers have no retirement savings? ›

That goes for savings, too: just 5% of millennials and 13% of baby boomers are prioritizing their retirement savings, according to a recent survey by Time2play. Additionally, 44% of millennials and a third of baby boomers have no retirement savings at all.

What are the 7 living generations? ›

Who do you think you are? Seven generations to choose from
  • The Greatest Generation (born 1901–1927)
  • The Silent Generation (born 1928–1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965–1980)
  • Millennials (born 1981–1995)
  • Generation Z (born 1996–2010)
  • Generation Alpha (born 2011–2025)
9 Aug 2018

What are late baby boomers called? ›

The other half of the generation, usually called "Generation Jones", but sometimes also called names like the "late boomers" or "trailing-edge baby boomers", was born between 1956 and 1964, and came of age after Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. This second cohort includes about 37,818,000 people.

What are babies born in 1965 called? ›

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964. Gen X, born between 1965 and 1976. Millennials, born between 1977 and 1997.

What is it like growing old alone? ›

The consequences are profound, older adults who consider themselves lonely are more likely to have trouble completing daily tasks, experience cognitive decline, develop coronary heart disease and even die.

What percentage of Americans end up alone? ›

Our new report suggests that 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.” Not surprisingly, loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.

What is Gen Z work ethic? ›

The Kronos Inc survey shows the priorities Generation Z has when it comes to their work ethic. Generation Z's work ethic calls for: Flexibility, with 26% stating they'd work harder and remain loyal to a company longer if they had flexible schedules.

How long does Gen Z stay in a job? ›

On Average, Gen Z Is Staying At One Job For Just Over 2 Years. This Is Why. The resignation will be live. Amid a mass job exit, one generation is standing out for their relationship with employment, what they look to gain from work, and how long they'll stay in one spot.

What is the average net worth of a baby boomer? ›

Baby boomers held an average wealth of $629,683 in their 50s, equivalent to $704,158 in today's value. Worse off is Generation X who, on average, owned $396,293 when they started reaching their 50s. This is 43.73% less than what boomers had when they were the same age.

Are boomers to blame for labor shortage? ›

While many have claimed that labor shortages last year were driven by young people who didn't want to work, retiring boomers were the biggest force behind the trend, according to CNN.

How many retirees have no savings? ›

30% of Retirees Have No Savings -- Here's Why That's a Problem.

What year is silent generation? ›

Why is it called baby boomer? ›

Baby boomers are the generational cohort born after World War II. Also known simply as “boomers,” they are named after the unprecedented post-war spike in birth rates, referred to as the baby boom.

How many baby boomers turn 65 everyday? ›

On average, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.

People who were born in the baby boomer generation are now either in retirement or fast approaching these golden years. In fact, there are some 10,000 baby boomers who are turning 65 every day. This brings the baby boomer retirees' number to 34 million as of 2019.

What is a boomer mindset? ›

An article by Rice Media shares how the older generations believe that 'hard work' is the number of work hours clocked instead of efficiency and productivity. They grew up with the mentality that they should make personal sacrifices and always take the safest route.

Who was the most famous boomer? ›

The 5 Most Influential Baby Boomers
  • Carl June. June is a pioneer in the immunotherapy field who made a name for himself after successfully developing T-cell therapies for cancer patients. ...
  • Peggy Whitson. ...
  • Bill Gates. ...
  • Oprah Winfrey. ...
  • Steve Wozniak.
29 Apr 2019

What does boomer mean in slang? ›

(slang, sometimes derogatory, by extension) An elderly person, regardless of generation. I'm going to be a boomer by the time this thing is over. (slang, sometimes derogatory, by extension) A person who is too old to be familiar with the use of recent technology.

What are baby boomers known for? ›

"Baby boomer" refers to a member of the demographically large generation born between the end of WWII and the mid-1960s. Because of their high numbers and the relative prosperity of the U.S. economy during their careers, the baby boomers are an economically influential generation.

Why was the Greatest Generation called that? ›

The Greatest Generation (or GI Generation)

Born in 1924 or earlier. Tom Brokaw coined the term the Greatest Generation as a tribute to Americans who lived through the Great Depression and then fought in WWII. His 1998 bestselling book, “The Greatest Generation,” popularized the term.

What generation is known as the Silent Generation? ›

The “silent generation” are those born from 1925 to 1945 – so called because they were raised during a period of war and economic depression. The “baby boomers” came next from 1945 to 1964, the result of an increase in births following the end of World War II.

What generation was the Great Depression? ›

The Silent Generation is the demographic cohort following the Greatest Generation and preceding the Baby Boomers. The Silent Generation is generally defined as people born from 1928 to 1945.

What is a boomer mindset? ›

An article by Rice Media shares how the older generations believe that 'hard work' is the number of work hours clocked instead of efficiency and productivity. They grew up with the mentality that they should make personal sacrifices and always take the safest route.

What is unique about boomers? ›

They were born during the post World War II baby boom. They rejected and redefined traditional values. They are also the wealthiest, most active and have the most disposable income for food, apparel and retirement programs.

What do baby boomers do for fun? ›

Boomers participate in a mix of solitary and group activities such as tennis, golf, jogging, walking and aerobic exercise, to name a few. Because baby boomers were the first to be targeted by health advertisers on TV, it's not surprising that they take their well-being seriously.

Why is it called the lost generation? ›

The term is also used more generally to refer to the post-World War I generation. The generation was “lost” in the sense that its inherited values were no longer relevant in the postwar world and because of its spiritual alienation from a United States that, basking under Pres. Warren G.

Is the silent generation the same as the Greatest Generation? ›

The Greatest Generation, also known as the G.I. Generation and the World War II generation, is the demographic cohort following the Lost Generation and preceding the Silent Generation. The generation is generally defined as people born from 1901 to 1927.

How much of the Greatest Generation is left? ›

The tail end of the greatest generation is in 1927. By 2046, the oldest person from 1927 will be 119 — the same age we can project the oldest person in the world to be. The next year, that last member of the greatest generation will be older than the projected oldest person in the world, and therefore no longer alive.

What is before the Lost Generation? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Key to Generations.
Generation¹Birth Years
12 more rows
19 Jul 2012

What are the 7 living generations? ›

Who do you think you are? Seven generations to choose from
  • The Greatest Generation (born 1901–1927)
  • The Silent Generation (born 1928–1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965–1980)
  • Millennials (born 1981–1995)
  • Generation Z (born 1996–2010)
  • Generation Alpha (born 2011–2025)
9 Aug 2018

Why is Gen Z called Gen Z? ›

Gen Z refers to people born between 1995 and 2010. The 'Z' in the name means "zoomer", as this is the first generation known to 'zoom' the internet. Most of those who are a part of Gen Z are the children of Generation X.

What year is the lost generation? ›

The term is used for the generation of young people who came of age at around the time of World War I. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe define the Lost Generation as the cohort born from 1883 to 1900, who came of age during World War I and the Roaring Twenties.

What year is Silent Generation? ›

What generation are hippies? ›

The core of the American hippie movement during the 1960s and '70s were twentysomethings who belonged to what demographers call the baby-boom generation.


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5. Who The Hell Created The Baby Boomers & Why Did They Raise Their Kids That Way?
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