10 Outdated Baby Boomer Beliefs That Need to Die Off

AI generated vintage image representing the American Dream

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AI generated vintage image representing the American Dream
Cheapism / Microsoft Copilot

Generational Divide

A generation gap has always existed, but it may be more obvious now than it's ever been. Boomers clash with younger adults often, and both sides blame the other for practically everything, from economic woes to eating habits. There are some beliefs that many Baby Boomers hold, though, that deserve to go the way of the dodo. Here are some typical older adult beliefs that the younger generations see as outdated. 

Saleswoman helping a customer in a supermarket
FG Trade/istockphoto

1. "The Customer is Always Right"

This customer-service saying is from another time when customers typically acted with more decorum. Nowadays, there are plenty of rude, disrespectful, and just plain wrong people that demand ridiculous things from fast food and retail employees. There's no reason for overworked employees to put up with problem customers for a low-paying job. Even worse is trying to use this phrase as an excuse to treat employees like garbage. 

American craftsman house

2. The American Dream is Attainable by All

The American Dream is the idea that anyone in America can work hard and achieve upward mobility, equality, and prosperity. It goes hand-in-hand with "bootstraps," the idea that hard work is all you need to succeed in life. But that's not the reality for many people in America, where discrimination and privilege based on race, gender, and economic status have always played a larger role in society than some Boomers like to acknowledge. According to a recent poll, younger Americans are much more pessimistic about the American Dream than Americans over 65, and some say it never even existed at all.

Crowded Church

3. Fervent Religious Beliefs

Religion is on the outs, at least if you talk to younger folks. About a third of Zoomers and Millennials identified themselves as religiously unaffiliated and said religion was unimportant in their lives in a recent poll. Often, younger adults and teens, who tend to be more diverse than older generations, see the harm and divisiveness that religion can cause. They understand that morality can come from places other than an organized religion. 

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Scammer trying to cheat victim's money

4. Victim Blaming

Victims of crimes are often blamed in some way for the crimes that are committed against them, whether it's wearing a skirt that's too revealing, walking alone at night, or even not carrying a gun. Boomers seem to be very vocal about it, even while younger generations try to help them understand that the person committing the crime is always the one at fault, whether it's assault or phishing scams. 

Brother and sister going to school on winter day

5. "We Went Through It, So Can You"

The goal of parents should be to make life better, happier, and easier for their children, so that they don't have to go through the same struggles that they had. The idea that everyone should also go through hardships just because you had to (the old "we walked both ways uphill in the snow!" joke) is outdated and selfish, yet many Boomers seem to cling to it. 

Pre interview nervousness can be quite normal
Dean Mitchell/istockphoto

6. Showing Up at a Company Will Get You a Job

Hiring works very differently now than decades ago, and many Boomers don't seem to realize that. For most salaried positions, just showing up to the company without an interview will not impress anyone, and in fact, you'll almost always get turned away. Applying for jobs is a long and complicated task for many reasons, but showing up to Apple's headquarters unannounced is definitely not going to get your hired. 

A real estate sign saying sold

7. The Property Ladder Is Worth Climbing

For many Boomers and older Americans, buying a home is seen as a status symbol, and a sign that you've "made it" in life. But for younger adults, buying a home is completely out of reach as "affordability has just totally collapsed" since the pandemic. Interest rates are high, but housing prices are even higher, and job wages have not kept up. 

Nowadays, the idea of a "starter home" that you plan to sell in the near future seems absurd, since the median sale price of new homes in the U.S. is now above $400,000. It's much harder to purchase your first home now, and many younger people are planning to be life-long renters instead of trying to climb the property ladder.  

Related: 18 Things Boomers Need to Stop Saying to Millennials About Money

Young woman working from home with a boston terrier dog. Freelancer businesswoman using laptop at sunny room.  Student learning and working at home.
Elena Katkova/istockphoto

8. Hard Work Is Key to a Fulfilling Life

Boomers and younger adults look at work in very different ways. Many older adults see a job as the most important, defining characteristic of their lives. Working hard, despite whether you are respected at or enjoy your job, is seen as a moral responsibility. But to younger people, their identity is often less wound up in their work. Having meaningful relationships, enjoying a work/life balance, and experiencing all life has to offer is seen as more fulfilling and important to younger adults than working 60 or more hours per week just to climb the corporate ladder.  

Job Application

9. Having One Job for Decades Is Best

Back when many jobs were still offering pensions, staying at a single company for many years might have made sense. But pensions are few and far between now, and loyalty to your company just because they're paying your salary doesn't cut it anymore for Zoomers and Millennials who want higher salaries and better work/life balance. Job hopping usually leads to bigger salary increases than if the employee stayed with their company, so it just makes financial sense. 

Burnout is killing his career

10. Perfect Attendance Should Be Celebrated

For things like school and work, perfect attendance should not be rewarded, and younger adults don't understand why Boomers think it's an achievement. People — especially kids — get sick all the time, and sending them to school or work will get other people sick and lead to decreased productivity across the board. Not taking your PTO at work should not be rewarded, either, as it leads to burnout, overwork, and undue stress.