Up to now, my focus has been on the Vicky-D’s – people who are about 80 years old and up and the parents of the oldest Baby Boomers. There is, however, another significant group that we haven’t looked at yet — those born between 1925 and 1943 and who are now between 65 and 80 years of age — and the parents of the youngest Baby Boomers. This is a relatively small generation (because people were having fewer children in the economic and political upheaval of the 1920’s and 1930s) but has in it those with whom most Baby Boomers are struggling to help today.
Some think this group isn’t really a generation but only the youngest of the Vicky-Ds because they were raised with all of the Vicky-D values, character. and personal discipline, but they are, in fact, very different.
That’s because, while they were raised with Victorian values and shared the experiences of the Great Depression, they were too young to fight in WWII. This is significant because while their older brothers went to fight in WWII and their mothers and older sisters went to work for the war effort, this generation was home alone. In fact, they were the original “latch-key” kids. Most importantly, they were required to be good little boys and girls — and especially suffer in silence.
It’s the silence that makes them unique – and really, really difficult to communicate with. (They were even dubbed the “Silent Generation” in the November 5, 1951, cover story of Time.) While some of them have renamed themselves the “Responsible Generation” (and they were very much that), I think the term “Silent Generation” better describes and defines them.
For one thing, they are strong and self-sufficient yet they tend to stay out of the spotlight — to work behind the scenes. For example, Silents don’t become the star — they are the stage managers. They do not become the president — they become the president’s chief of staff. While Silents produced many of the radical Baby Boomers but few Silents would think of being radical themselves.
It’s also how they communicate. They have an opinion but they were raised not to voice it or even offer it . . . . but they very much want to be asked. They’re reluctant to speak up when they disagree but they resent being told what to do. Some will say it’s passive/aggressive behavior but that’s not it (really!!). In fact, there’s a really good reason for it and their number one defining generational trait.
Why does this trait matter to family members struggling to help them? We’re going to be focusing on the Silent Generation a lot in the months to come.