Baby boomers have been following the presidential transition closely.
It almost seems like the election itself has become a distant memory and that the country is now ready to move forward. While nearly all of the attention will be on President-elect Donald J. Trump's cabinet picks and the smooth transition of power so unique to the U.S., there is also another transition that is underway — the transition of the baby boomer.
What does the term “transition” mean as it affects baby boomers?
Simply, it means the movement from one way of life to another. There are three main aspects to this transition. First, there is the move from regular work life to retirement. The second aspect is the adjustment boomers make to their parents losing independence and becoming the ones needed to be cared for — often by their baby boomer children.
Thirdly, there is a transition in the role that baby boomers undergo with their own adult children. This has all brought about change, thus propelling boomers into a period of transition in their own lives.
When baby boomers were college students, life seemed so free and easy, and work life was just something on the horizon. For many boomers, the sun has now set on their chosen career. It is hard for baby boomers to end something that they devoted so much of their life to and to come up with an answer for what is next.
A baby boomer from New York who spent his entire career with a major accounting firm, somehow must now come to grips with turning 64 and putting board room meetings behind him. His firm calls it a "graduation."
Is it really?
All baby boomers are not created equal. Some are more ready for the exit strategy then others.Then there are the baby boomers who have a new role in life. It is called “caregiver.” Some baby boomers are not ready to see their parents slow down and fade, even when the chronological age of a parent dictates change.
Baby boomers want their parents to be strong, and to be a voice of leadership; their guide to the future. Now, the opposite is true. Now baby boomers find themselves asking questions like "Is my mother eating?," “Has she taken her pills?,” and "Can she stay in her home?"
Baby boomers once were globe trotters looking for five star resorts and playing a lot of golf. Now their home course is the one determined by their elderly parents’ doctor appointments.
Those baby boomers lucky enough to still have their parents spend a lot of time just trying to figure out how to care for and manage the lives of their elderly parents. This job of caregiving is taking its toll on boomers.
They feel powerless and they wonder what is next. It is a crisis of mass proportion.
As if these two aspects of the transitions taking place in a baby boomer's life were not enough, there is the third component — being responsible for their own adult children, who by now should really be responsible for themselves.
Instead, many Millennials are plagued with issues such as student loan debt and unemployment. It doesn’t help that boomers clearly recognize the irony in this situation — after all, it was the promise of great job opportunities that led them to incur the enormous educational expenses to begin with.
The difficult predicament faced by so many Millennial children of boomers has forced many baby boomers to have their adult children living with them or to provide other financial support for their adult children. This puts pressure on the boomer’s nest egg, and in fact often makes retirement not quite the leisurely life once imagined by baby boomers.
So this brings us back full circle to the term “transition,” either the presidential transition, or the transition of baby boomers’ lives. Both in their own way bring challenges. But there is one key aspect in common, that is that both types of transition require a “coming together.”
While President-elect Trump must bring a country together, the baby boomer must bring his or her family together. One needs to have compassion for their spouse who leaves the office, never to return. The baby boomer in a caregiving role needs to have compassion and a great deal of patience, for the elderly parent knows they are not the same, and so does the baby boomer.
And the baby boomer must find common ground with their adult children — that means finding a way to balance providing support while making sure that the adult children do not just become dependent on their baby boomer parents, for they need to continue working towards finding their own way.
So as baby boomers watch the presidential transition, they analyze it from the lens of their own lives. For as most historians will tell you, what happens in the Oval Office is a reflection of the greater American society as whole. The country is in transition — so are baby boomers.
Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns “Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation.” He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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