6 Things Boomers Actually Really Admire About Millennials

things boomers like about millennials

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to the early-to-mid aughts when Generation Y—aka millennials—came of age. Britney and her—gasp!—shaved head were all over the tabloid covers. That kid you hadn’t seen since his family moved to Ottawa in 5th grade just friended you on Facebook and you graduated from college (yay!) only to move directly back in with your parents (huh?). For a while there, millennials were internet-obsessed, wannabe-rich-and-famous-for-no-reason (a la the Kardashians) entitled brats with thin skin. With a little hindsight, all that millennial hatred has slowly developed into a budding appreciation—yes, even for the Kardashians (talk about work ethic!). Here, six things boomers actually really admire about millennials. 

1. When they don’t like something, they try to change it

Millennials aren’t a generation to just accept the status quo, largely because they’ve learned first-hand that said status quo is often an illusion. And while, yes, on one hand that means that when a millennial is not happy with the options at hand, they might just whip up a little app like Tinder, Airbnb or Venmo. But it also means millennials are pushing larger social change. It was millennials, for example, who lead the charge with same-sex marriage and decriminalization of marijuana—and what baby boomer who frolicked at Woodstock, marched for Civil Rights or protested the Vietnam War can't relate? 

2. They prioritize their mental health

Millennials might be dubbed “the generation of therapy,” but call them softies all you want—gen Y doesn’t see anything wrong with seeking help for “invisible” issues like anxiety, depression, disordered eating and more. Listen into a millennial dinner party and we challenge you to keep count of how many times somebody mentions “well my therapist says…” Jokes aside, this is a generation that has borne witness to mass shootings, extreme politics, the opioid crisis, endless war, the Great Recession and the climate crisis. In the face of catastrophizing, it’s refreshing to see a generation not only takes care of their mental well-being but is open enough to talk about it. And even if your parents don't as easily bring up what happened in analysis over appetizers, baby boomers were the generation to really normalize regular therapy. After all, boomers are still recovering from their time as overworked yuppies in the '80s and '90s and are relieved to see their kids aren't making the same mistakes. 

3. They self-actualize before they partner up

Millennials aren’t only getting married later, they’re using that time window to forge their identities as individuals: “With this secured identity, millennials are entering into marriage with much more confidence that they have found someone who aligns with their future goals and core values,” says Michaiah Dominguez, mental health counselor and relationship coach. Boomers, on the other hand, tended to have grown into adults without the opportunity to really define who they were outside of their marriages, which may or may not correlate to the fact that in the last 25 years divorce rates nearly doubled for those over 50. So, boomers are comforted to see that their kids seem to be figuring themselves out before committing to another person. 

4. They don’t see relationships as black and white

These are the folks that put “it’s complicated” on the map. As a sex-positive generation, they not only talk about sex, but about different kinds of sex with different kinds of partnerships. While alternatives to monogamy have existed forever, Gen Y isn’t skirting the issue. They’re bringing it up at the dinner table, explaining to Nana why their non-hierarchical polyamory relationship is what works for them, and as a result, Nana might be more open to having dinner with Jerry across the hall. Hey, it's complicated, OK?

5. They’re really great parents

Back to numbers one and two. When something stops working, millennials embrace innovation and research and question the status quo—especially when it comes to their kids. Why are there a billion options for swaddles, sippy cups, highchairs and strollers? Because millennials created a demand for better and safer parenting products. But there’s more to millennial parenting than a $500 baby bouncer. Per a recent Salon story, “According to 2018 statistics, an estimated 35 percent of millennials have received help from mental health professionals, compared to an estimated 22 percent of Baby Boomers. It's not hard to make the connection to this generation's focus on mental health and how that might translate to teaching their own children about emotions.” Millennials have a more open door policy with emotions and in turn are putting feelings front and center. It’s no wonder Instagram accounts like Big Little Feelings and Peace and Parenting have massive followings of caretakers who want to practice connection-based parenting, which holds space for children’s emotional worlds—including that window-cracking toddler tantrum. And if there's anything boomers take seriously, it's parenting. This is the generation that brought us helicoptering parenting. They absolutely love seeing their kids become amazing parents. 

6. And they’re always there to help with the internet

Let’s be honest—what boomer isn’t secretly grateful they have a millennial in their life to help with connectivity issues or fix that weird Netflix error keeping them from watching Bridgerton?

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Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...