Millennials vs. Boomers

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick and tired of baby boomers telling me (either directly or indirectly) how bad millennials are with money, or how clueless we are to how the world works.

Their criticism comes in various ways: the oft-repeated joke about how all of us millennials live in our parents basements; the snide comments about how we all leave college with huge debt and demand a great-paying job right away; or the joke that all of us need congratulations for work accomplishments, akin to our childhood participation trophies.

These comments drive me bananas, especially because many of my patients are boomers, so I have to hear them in one form or another day after day. Occasionally when I tell them that I’m a millennial, they will say something like, “Well you’re the exception. You’re a doctor with a family…” (or something like that to excuse their rudeness)

True, I am a doctor, so I may break some of the mold that society has crafted, in which they cram all millennials. But I am very much a product of my generation, so my thoughts are similar to those of my demographic. Most of my millennial friends, many of whom are not doctors, are also very successful and break the mold boomers put them in.

First, the joke about living with our parents. When many millennials came out of college, we were met with the great housing collapse that older generations had created for us. For me, I’m glad I didn’t get to buy a house while in doctor school, because if I had, I would have lost a fortune. Instead, we waited until we could afford a house, without breaking our budget, and got in on some undervalued real estate. I was 31 when we bought our first home (I actually signed the documents on my 31st birthday), which is right around the median age of when millennials are buying homes. (Some sources say 31, others say 30.)

The fact is, according to Zillow, the median age of first time home-buyers hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years. Millennials are buying homes right around age 31, and boomers bought around age 30. Same difference. Most millennials aren’t even 30 yet, so cut them some slack.

Second, the comments about our debt and our demands. We are saddled with huge debts partly because the educational system which is run by boomers decided that they can charge as much as they want, and they have trained us since childhood to believe only a college education can provide for a happy life. College tuition seems to have kept pace with the ability of students to qualify for more loans, instead of the other way around. Tuition now has to cover the pensions the colleges promised to boomer teachers, thereby enrolling current students in one of the largest Ponzi type schemes ever. (The largest Ponzi scheme in history is Social Security. Think about it.)

And of course we demand good jobs. We have been promised them since we were kids. “If you work hard and study hard, you will be successful.” Other generations demanded similar employment, but instead of forming unions, we take to social media, or create our own companies and economies.

Finally, when I was playing soccer at age 8, I did not go buy myself a trophy for participating in the league. It, and many others in subsequent seasons, was given to me by a baby boomer coaching staff, and applauded by the baby boomer parents section. Now we are accused of demanding trophies, but we were trained to believe that accomplishments should be applauded.

Everyone likes to be recognized for their accomplishments. We may be more vocal about our needs, but everyone likes recognition, regardless of demographic. Boomers may be upset that they didn’t get as many ‘atta boy’ praises from their parents, but we got a lot from our boomer parents, and we are grateful for them.

None of this post should be misconstrued as me wearing ‘complainy-pants’ or placing blame. I only write it to show the flip-side of boomers attacks on me and my fellow millennials.

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