The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Mar 192012
 

This is called a preemptive posting.  If there’s ever a question I get asked a lot, it’s this: When did the Fourth Turning start?  So rather than wait for someone to ask again, let’s get right to it.

Readers of The Fourth Turning already know that 4Ts in history are dated and internally subdivided into stages by four critical events.  The first event, the catalyst, triggers or starts the 4T.  It is “a startling event (or sequence of events) that produces a sudden shift in mood.” The second, the regeneracy, marks the beginning of “a new counter-entropy that reunifies and re-energizes civic life.” The third, the climax, is “a crucial moment that confirms the death of the old order and triumph of the new.”  The fourth is the resolution, “a triumphant or tragic conclusion that separates winners from losers, resolves the big public questions, and establishes the new order.”

So to ask when the current 4T began is to ask, when was the catalyst?

Pending stunning new developments, I believe the catalyst occurred in 2008.  It’s a date that is looking better and better as time goes by.  The year 2008 marked the onset of the most serious U.S. economic crisis since the Great Depression.  It also marked the election of Barack Obama, which could yet turn out to be a pivotal realignment date in U.S. political history.

Let’s look at each of these separately.  First, the economy.  Yes, the U.S. recession technically started in December of 2007, but neither the public nor the market felt it until the spring and summer of the following year.  In fact, if I had to give the catalyst a month, I would say September of 2008.  The global Dow was in free fall.  Banks were failing.  Money markets froze shut.  Business owners held their breath.  Thankfully, America’s leaders succeeded in avoiding a depression by means of a massive liquidity infusion and fiscal stimulus policies whose multi-trillion-dollar magnitude has literally no precedent in history.  Today, for the time being, the U.S. economy seems safe again, though to be sure it has emerged weaker and more fragile—and certainly more leveraged—than it was before.

Yet at the time, behind closed doors, many of America’s top leaders believed that they were skirting the edge of a catastrophe that could have exceeded 1932 in its destructive potential.  And they were probably right.  Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson later recounted (in On the Brink) that in the last two weeks of September, 2008, they were only “days away” from “economic collapse, another Great Depression, and 25 percent unemployment.”  At one Thursday-evening meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke famously urged legislators to “break the glass” and pass a bailout package with the simple admonition: “If we don’t do this, we may not have an economy on Monday.”

And, to add even greater edge to this catalyst, we were at that time just six weeks away from the election of Barack Obama, who brought a new party to power and was America’s first African-American President.  Would he have won without the meltdown?  Who knows.  It would have been a much closer election.  Yet as time goes by, we may see something more important in the 2008 election—how it may mark the beginning of a new political realignment.  Admittedly, it’s still too early to say.  Obama’s approval ratings are still relatively low, and the GOP—though showing deep fissures and light turnouts in this year’s primaries—may still experience a resurgence.  This is a call that will be much easier to make a year or two from now.

People have asked me how confident I am about 2008.  All I can say is, the catalyst has to be sometime around 2008 given the generational dividing lines.  As a rule, a new turning starts a few years (typically 2 to 6) after each living generation (especially the new youth generation) enters a new phase of life.  2008 was 4 to 6 years after the oldest Millennials reached age 21 and graduated from college—and 3 years after the oldest Boomers (born in 1943) started to receive their first Social Security retirement checks.  In terms of phase of life, this is right on.

On the other hand, 2001 was too early—and Bill and I repeatedly explained this to many readers who once told us that 9/11 “must be” the catalyst.  We agreed that the mood shift was sudden and dramatic.  But we pointed out that it the living generations were simply too young: The oldest Millennials, for example, were barely college sophomores.  As time passed—and as the Greenspan bubble welled up under the U.S. economy and as public disillusionment set in over the U.S. invasion of Iraq—our initial doubt was justified.  9/11 will go down as one of the more famous crisis precursors in American history.  A crisis precursor is an event that foreshadows a crisis without being an integral part of it.  Other such precursors in American history include the Stamp Act Rebellion (1765), or Bleeding Kansas (1856), or perhaps the Red Scare (1919).  Incidentally, the media did several retrospectives on the 1919-20 bombings in the wake of 9/11—since they represented, prior to 9/11, the most destructive act of political terrorism by foreigners ever attempted on U.S. soil.

OK.  Now let’s move on to the next question: Where is the regeneracy?

I think it’s pretty obvious that the regeneracy has not yet started.  So how long do we need to wait for it?  And how will we know when it starts?  Those are good questions.  I recently went back over The Fourth Turning to recall how we dated the stages of the each of the historical 4Ts.  And I found that we were very explicit about dating the other three stages (catalyst, climax, and resolution) for each 4T.  But we were always a bit vague about dating the regeneracy, treating it more like an era than a date.  There is a reason for this.  We may like to imagine that there is a definable day and hour when America, faced by growing danger and adversity, explicitly decides to patch over its differences, band together, and build something new.  But maybe what really happens is that everyone feels so numb that they let somebody in charge just go ahead and do whatever he’s got to do.  I’m thinking of how America felt during the bleak years of FDR’s first term, or during Lincoln’s assumption of vast war powers after his repeated initial defeats on the battlefield.

The regeneracy cannot always be identified with a single news event.  But it does have to mark the beginning of a growth in centralized authority and decisive leadership at a time of great peril and urgency.  Typically, the catalyst itself doesn’t lead directly to a regeneracy.  There has to be a second or third blow, something that seems a lot more perilous than just the election of third-party candidate (Civil War catalyst) or a very bad month in the stock market (Great Power catalyst).

We are still due for such a moment.  We have not yet reached our regeneracy.  When it happens, I strongly suspect it will be in response to an adverse financial event.  It may also happen in response to a geopolitical event.  It may well happen over the next year or two.  Given the pattern of historical 4Ts, it is very likely happen before the end of the next presidential term (2016).  Which means we already know who will be President at that time: Either Obama or Romney.  (Or at least this is high probability: According to Intrade, it is now over a 96 percent bet, so if you disagree you can make 25-to-1 by betting against global future traders.)  It’s interesting that both men are temperamentally similar—cool, detatched, capable of gravitas–and that one could imagine either playing a Gray Champion role if history required it.  It’s also worth noting that Romney is the only GOP candidate who could steal a sizable share of the Millennial vote that would otherwise go to Obama.  (Romney has consistently done better in the GOP primaries with voters under 30; Santorum and Gingrich with voters over 50.)

Next question: When will the 4T climax take place?  To be honest, I have no idea.  On timing, let me toss out my guess based on the typical pattern of historical 4Ts: The climax may arrive around 2022-2025.

And when will the resolution occur and the entire 4T come to a close?  Again, there is no way to know.  If the 4T turns out to be of average length, I would say 2026-29.  At that time, an entire saeculum will draw to a close.  And the first turning of a new saeculum will commence.

Let me add one more thought.  Bill and I once explained the dynamic of seasonal turnings by applying a four-fold typology of social states invented by Talcott Parsons.  It seemed to work pretty well.  Parsons said that each state was defined by the demand and supply for social order, each of which could be high or low.  So here are how the four turnings may be defined:

Demand for Order        Supply of Order

1T     High                            High

2T     Low                             High

3T     Low                             Low

4T     High                            Low

The point here being that 4Ts are pretty chaotic.  During 4Ts, the future seems much less certain than in retrospect.  They are mostly defined not so much by how much institutions provide order, but by how much people want order.  Here’s where the Millennials will play a key role.

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  • Muck_About

    Glad you are back with it on the blog..

    What is likely coming up in the next two weeks will probably provide you with another significant event to put in your timing basket for the current 4th Turning.

    Be sure an have your gas tank full by March 30 as April 1st might just be the most foolish April Fool’s Day we’ve ever seen.  Or not as fate will have it. 

    I’d like permission to use excerpts from your blog – posting them on another blog with a follow up link to read the whole blog entry here on your blog.  We’ll get the word out that you’re back and active much quicker that way..  Please advise..

    MA  

  • http://profiles.google.com/wmmurray William Murray

    Hello Mr. Howe,
    I too am glad to see you return to the blogging world.  I have been following you for quite some time and didn’t want to think you had abandoned your long time readers and “Generations” fans.  I am particularly happy to see your comments on the beginning of the 4th Turning.  I am one of those who became convinced that we entered the 4th Turning on 9/11/2001.  Your points are well taken, however, and I must admit I am going to have to reconsider my ideas about that.  Welcome back.
    Bill Murray (The TimePage)

    • http://www.lifecourse.com Neil Howe

      Bill: Great to hear from you. You are my kindred spirit, one of the original band of brothers, who came on line very shortly after Bill and I came out with The Fourth Turning back in 1997. Thank you for doing so much to give this perspective and these ideas a wider audience.

    • http://www.lifecourse.com NeilHowe

      Bill: Great to hear from you. You are my kindred spirit, one of the original band of brothers, who came on line very shortly after Bill and I came out with The Fourth Turning back in 1997. Thank you for doing so much to give this perspective and these ideas a wider audience.

  • jimqui

    Hi Neil

    I hope you don’t mind if I repost this on The Burning Platform. Your 4th Turning fans will love your insights.

    • http://www.lifecourse.com NeilHowe

      Jim: Of course you can repost.  You are a thunderous 4T ambassador.  Your prophecies make me tremble a bit, like the poetry of Ossian.  Invite your readers here from time to time.  They will be welcome.

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  • Cwk4

    I’m unsure if I’m Generation X or the Millenials.  How can I tell?  What differentiates an unprotected upbringing from a protected one?

    • http://www.lifecourse.com NeilHowe

      Your generational membership is determined by your birth year: 1981 or earlier, you are X; 1982 or after, you are Millennial.  As to whether you did or did not have a protected upbringing, that depends on your own individual circumstances.  An Xer with a very protected upbringing will be what generations writer Wilhelm Pinder once called a “suppressed” member of Gen X–feeling on the outside and looking in.  A Millennila with a very protected upbringing, on the other hand, will feel greater resonance with the mainstream of his/her generation.

      • Curtis

        Thanks.  I am glad to see the rigor with which you hold your system.

        I was born the tail-end of 1983.  Yet, my upbringing was basically unprotected – went to a rough school, academic and substance abuse troubles, etc.  Does this make me “suppressed Millenial”? 

        • http://www.lifecourse.com NeilHowe

          Maybe it makes you a “suppressed Millennial.”  Or maybe it just means that you are a first-wave Millennial.  The Millennials are a generation of trends, with all of their basic traits–such as special, protected, structured, etc.–growing more accentuated as they move from first born (1982) to last born (2004?).  So the first-wavers, like you, will always recall a more wide-open childhood than those mid-wave Millennials born ten years after you.  The G.I. Generation was very similar.  Read “Generations.”

  • Curtis

    Well, I’ve read through all the archives.  Superb.  Right on every account!

    Quite frankly, when I first came here, I was skeptical – but the amazing level of precision that you(Neil Howe) have brought to this has turned generational theory into a bonafide science.  Its eery how accurate the boundaries between relationships are – my high school class was born ’83-’84 – when I was a freshman, I distinctly remember how the juniors and seniors were a bajillion times rougher and meaner than the sophmores and freshmen.  After reading your articles on Gen X, I know why now.

    How did you pick out the year 1982 with such accuracy?

    • Taramarie

       1982 due to the ‘baby on board’ signs arriving on the scene.

  • Curtis

     I believe that Mitt Romney will defeat Obama.  Here’s why:

      You and William Strauss write that, sometimes, “Nomads” function as leaders during the Crisis period, metaphorically serving as officers to Millenial infantrymen.  I really doubt that will be the case this time.   In my experience, and this is totally anecdotal, but there’s an immense level of hostility between Millenials and Gen Xers.  Gen Xers, for whatever reason, have particularly victimized Millenials. 

    I have direct experience with this.  As mentioned, I spent two years in high school as an underclassman to Gen Xers(  Those guys were mean.  Randomly punching ’82-84 cohort boys in the hallways… verbally harassing ’82-84 cohort girls…  above all, foisting their macho values on the underclassmen.  When they finally graduated, you could feel the mileu of the school change over night.  The ’82-’83 class – the one above me – quit the wrestling team en mass!  It was almost as if, no longer having to bow to the dominant Gen-Xers, they could now do what they really wanted to do.

    You see this in popular culture, as well.  With a few exceptions(such as Johnny Depp and Quentin Tarantino),  Gen Xers just aren’t cool. 

    Rather, Millenials idolize Baby-Boomers.  Men like Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton are considered heros.  Certainly, you yourself, being a Baby-Boomer, must notice the positive reactions Millenials have had to you and generational theory.

    In conclusion:  Gen-X sucks! (just kidding :P… sort of)

    • dsohigian

        - I agree that Gen X’ers are a rough bunch (I am one myself). But it’s important to be clear about the qualities of each generation and their strengths and weaknesses. Gen X’er are survivalist, tough, pragmatic, individualistic and often cynical. But they are hard workers (who look for a balance between work and play) and can be counted on to make the tough choices when the crisis is in full swing. 

      I think that X’ers dominate popular culture right now and probably will continue to do so for the next 10-15 years. Even as the Millennial sensibilities which are much more civic and collaborative gain popularity, it will take some time for these attitudes to penetrate the culture-makers on all levels. At that point we will see a shift toward a different level of civility in our culture and I agree that is a good thing.

      One thing I disagree with: Gen X’ers are cool. In fact I would say that is part of the problem. Think of the word “cool”: what it really means is cold, distant, perhaps rebellious. We saw this same character in the Silent Generation (X’ers parents). Think James Dean. X’ers are the tough-talking rebels (nomads) that really epitomize cool. I think you meant they aren’t “nice” and I totally agree with that. We are a tough bunch, we are the bad boys. but if you figure out how to work with us (and vice-versa) we are a VERY competent bunch.

  • Paula Bingham

    I posted in the T4T forums and earlier as PaulaB62, an early 13er who completely agreed with your Boomer/13er cutoff back in Generations. I am rereading T4T (on my Kindle!) and randomly decided to check your blog only a few days after you returned!

    Another argument for why 9/11 was not the catalyst is that society didn’t react in a 4T manner over the next year or two.  For the most part, everyone was happy to continue with 3T circuses, only meaner. The government did not ask for real across-the-board crisis-era sacrifices from everyone. A higher proportion of the individual sacrifices were by choice (e.g. enlisting in the military) than would be typical of a crisis era.

    Paula Bingham
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1410270111 Victor Villarreal

    hmm… 2022.. i’ll be 36. (86′ millennial)  im a business owner, patent holder and my friends always ask me what im hording my money for… its for the 4T . id like to spend my money on rebuilding my community (infrastructure) but also invest in factories, updating our electrical grid and technical training schools (because the gov wont do it.. or doesn’t have the money) that can be retooled in war time.. when the “chips are down” i’ll be ready to contribute. i mean really… what do i need with billions of dollars.  im not the only young entrepreneur that sees the storm clouds coming. we’re preparing for the crises and the rebuild after thats why we laugh when we see the boomers in power fighting like children. 

    • Curtis

      Its not really the Boomers who are in power now, but rather, the Silent Generation.  “Below the radar” Silents such as Alan Greenspan and Dick Cheney have been immensely powerful over the past 20 years.

        Also, and Correct me if I’m wrong, but according to generational theory the Prophet Generation typically attains leadership during the Crisis.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1410270111 Victor Villarreal

        well.. aren’t most heads of industry “boomers”? aren’t most voters “boomers” and “silents”? if they arent in power now then the choices they’ve made ( with their buying power and culture influence, voting) doesn’t bode well for a crisis. (boomer leaders cant even agree that “2+2=4″) it seems like most public ones (not all) have “checked out” due to normal things like paying bills, affording healthcare, their kids. i dunno… i just have no confidence in the older generations to lead anymore (not that they are bad people). if there’s a war/crisis there’s no way in heck i would look to my parents or their friend for leadership and thats how my friends are feeling.. suddenly our parents opinions about the future are becoming irrelevant. but ask them and their still “hip” lol.

  • dsohigian

     Agreed. BTW, there is a really good book that Howe and Strauss wrote with Pete Markiewicz a while back: http://www.amazon.com/Millennials-Pop-Culture-William-Strauss/dp/0971260605. It does a great job of outlining how the various generations are affecting Pop Culture. I agree that there have been many hero themes (you forgot Harry Potter and Avatar) but a lot of the more brutal culture (think Drive, Fight Club, etc…) are more Gen X style. I think it will lose popularity over time, but as long as Gen X’ers running production they will probably prefer the rougher stuff.

  • dsohigian

    At the end of “The Fourth Turning” Strauss and Howe wrote about the various “scripts” for the generations during the Crisis. The idea was to outline how “good” Boomers, X’ers and Mills should act to help during the Crisis. I think what you are describing is the lower nature of the X’er generation – cruel and criminal and out for ourselves. The same could be said about Boomers who continue to try to break down society and Millennials who are entitled are examples of the “lower selves” of each of those generations. We all need use our tendencies for the best possible outcome during the Crisis. So tough X’ers who can make the pragmatic (and often self-sacrificing) choices will critical during the Crisis. So will Millennials the remain optimistic in spite of everything and Boomers that take up the role of the wise elders. We all have our dark and light sides.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ailig-Ógil/590058102 Ailig Ógil

    Awesome article!
    I completely agree that 9/11 was definitely not the catalyst. I remember 9/11 causing a 4T-esque crisis mood immediately after, but it seemed to only last a matter of months, then it was back to the Unraveling circus. In the end all 9/11 really did was to deepen the grimy meanness of the Unraveling and intensify the culture wars. Of anything the 2000s (up to 2008) seems to resemble the complex broodiness of the1910s and 1850s, while the 80s and 90s seem to resemble the 1920s. Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be typical Unraveling wars: controversial and complicated, beginning with extreme enthusiasm and uber patriotism which faded quickly as the population grew impatient and lost enthusiasm. Katrina I think only further strengthened the Unraveling mood by further shattering the public’s faith in institutions. If Katrina had happened in a 4T the main story would have been the public’s (and government’s) swift mobilization to solve the problem not the 3T loud name-calling and bitter divisiveness that actually ensued. In fact the 2000s events seem to have a strange parallel to the 1910s (Iraq and Afghanistan – WWI, Katrina – the Titanic sinking).
    Neil Howe makes great points about 2008 as the crisis. The only thing is the mood seems not to have shifted as quickly as it did in 1929 or 1861. Could it be because the mass gov intervention that softened the blow in 2008 (and put off the inevitable I think) has led people to not realize just how serious the situation was/still is? I think the mood is changing, it just feels too gradual. Or is it possible that the mood shift in 1929 and 1861 was actually more gradual than it appears to us looking back in history?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Duane-Oldsen/100000441708646 Duane Oldsen

    9/11 was analogue to the Tangier Crisis of 1905 – Prologue, not Movement. The Movement started eight years later.

    Leads one to wonder – is  Obama Hoover, or Roosevelt? Walter Russell Mead has touched well on how the “Blue Social Model” is in rapid collapse, and the PPACA has a whiff of the Dred Scott Decision in it to me – last hurrah of the Old Regime.

  • http://twitter.com/Mtl4u2 Les Zouazo

    There is not much doubt that the US society is fast approaching a supercritical state. Rule of law is now the rule of men, political polarization is becoming socially toxic, promote political paralysis and utter dysfunction. Income and wealth inequality isn’t the exclusive province of hard work rewarded, but is more and more the result of cronyism, relentless well funded lobbying, unfettered selective access to those who control the tax monies and the systemic fraud perpetrated by big banks and permitted by our government.

    If we accept the tenets of Chaos Theory and the supercritical states, (see Ubiquity — When Catastrophes Happen by Mark Buchanan) the first clue of a regeneracy may turn out to be a seemingly very small event, like, for instance, a demonstration from the Occupy movement that goes terribly wrong with deaths of protesters that would shake the collective consciousness and trigger further social upheaval.

    In other words, the very complexity of our society, as well as the drive toward efficiency at the expense of robustness makes it quite likely that the trigger for a regeneracy will exhibit very different characteristics than what was observed in the past.

    My 2 cents.

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  • XLeverage

    Hi Neil, at another time I will tell you how much your books, found too late or perhaps just in time for this Gen Xer, changed my life, my relationship with my elders, and my sense of duty to the nation.  I have recommended them to my students and give them the basics of your theory in short lectures hoping they will reach for them.  I defer to your sense of the 4th turning starting with these questions/comments:

    1) You say here 2001 was “too early” for the onset of crisis.  And yet, did the Civil War Crisis not come “too early”?  Are you saying here that there is causality between the generational turning points and the fulmination of crisis?  
    2) If 2001 was “too early” but indeed the onset, I’d stretch it back a year further, to the unprecedented spectacle of the Gore/Bush election uncertainty.  It lasted months, set fire to partisan differences that had been smoldering since the early 90s, and put Americans in a state that made the events of 9-11 particularly damaging to the national psyche – liberals snubbed in 00, silenced in 01 and then for some time publicly shamed, conservatives focused on flexing muscle to prove their validity instead of the “fiscal discipline” they too late began giving lip service to after the crash.
    3) The US has fielded a sizable occupation force near the borders of China since 2002, and has basically fielded two large invasions and numerous other interventions in the ensuing decade; what if this time around it isn’t a crisis of reaction to foreign powers but a crisis of how we have acted on the world stage and whether it has been too much, too little, or too off track?

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  • Pete

    Yesterday I attended an April 15th Tea Party Rally as I have
    since 2010.

    Understand, I am in full sympathy with the Tea Party, but
    one thing that always disturbed me about the movement – until now that is — was the
    Tea Party’s demographics. On average, the attendees were on the elderly
    side.  This worried me

    But after reading The
    Fourth Turning and about the ‘Gray Champion, and how the Baby Boomer prophets
    will be prominent in giving direction throughout the crisis, I can see that
    this is natural and good.

  • Jamie

    As you say, both Romney and Obama have similar traits.  Which leads me to believe the regeneracy, or realignment, will come with the 2016 election.  But, of course, events may hasten that . . .

  • JPT

    I just noticed that your blog is active again. I may be too late on this one for you to read it, but I have doubts about what you’ve said here. If you gave 100 random people a copy of The Fourth Turning today and asked them “when do you think the fourth turning started”, I think 99 of them would say “9/11″. You state your reasoning pretty strongly, but it’s based on the assumption that all of your past calculations and historical characterizations are 100% accurate. Isn’t it possible that 9/11 was the beginning (I also think the dot com bubble and the 2000 election contributed), and your calculations are off? In The Fourth Turning, you predicted “some time around the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, maybe a few years earlier, maybe a few years later”. It seems to me this question is a close enough call that you can’t dismiss out of hand what seems so obvious to so many. I think it’s also worth noting that none of Bush’s major national security policies (Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan) have been reversed by the Obama Administration. Does a fourth turning always have to culminate in war? Can it start with war? Could it be a reverse of the last time, where the war happens first and the economic crisis second? 

    Imagine if WWII had happened first, and then the Great Depression. Is there a reason why it couldn’t have? I think that’s what we’re experiencing this time. I just think 9/11 is too glaringly obvious to be written off. This is about societal perceptions, and like I said, I think overwhelmingly people would still rank 9/11 as the most significant recent historical event, even after 2008.

    Also, I’m kind of surprised you would suggest Obama’s election as a substantial realignment, after what happened in 2010. It was 6 years into FDR’s Administration before he faced any significant electoral setback (same is true for George W. Bush). Obama was repudiated after only two years.

  • Drew62

    Any votes for Bill Clinton as the Grey Champion?

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  • Taramarie

    The comment by Curtis interested me, because i am a first wave Millennial b. 1984 and my mother was very, i’d say overprotective. She structured everything in my life, even down to giving me time limits to how long i could stay next door. Haha two hours and two hours EXACTLY! I wasn’t allowed to bike ride, although i had a helmet, roller skating and roller blading were a big no-no because my mum thought it was ‘too dangerous.’ When i was grounded she put those electrical plug covers over the plugs even though she removed the cords to my electronics. (plug covers i remembered she would use when i was a baby, for some weird reason believing i would electrocute myself and die. -_- My mother is a late wave Baby Boomer, b. 1957. I lived a very sheltered, structured life. Does this mean that if the early Millennials were not being as strongly protected as perhaps i was and that i am one of the unfortunate Millennials who just so happened to have a mother who hovers a bit too much? My friends who were ’84 babies thought my mother was nuts and said their parents were not that ‘psycho’ as they called her, hahaha!
    Tara Hayman
    New Zealand.

    • dsohigian

      I think that the level of protection you saw in your mother was extreme for the times, but might be quite acceptable for today’s kids. That is the best measure of a generational shift: what is considered acceptable. I know a few parents that basically ignore their kids and let them run wild that is considered bad parenting today even though it was the social norm when I was growing up (Gen X). In some ways it is the exceptions that prove the rule when it comes to generational boundaries. The fact that your peers thought your Mom was nuts is an indication. Young children today would probably talk about a similar parent and get a bunch of “yeah, I know, it’s the same for me” from their peers. 

      • Taramarie

         ha, omg then i have been raised similar to what the next silent generation is being raised like? wow! When i saw the level of freedom my friends and people who were my age had, i was so jealous, and always asked my mother why i couldn’t have that level of freedom. She would then say, ‘you think you’re the only one being raised this way?’ I would say, ‘YEAH!’ My best moment reg freedom was when my mum allowed me to go to the mall on the other side of town ‘because my best friend’s mother was going with us.’ My brain went into overdrive when the mother of my best friend said she was going shopping and leaving us together to roam the mall. I was SO HAPPY! We got lost for two blissfull hours till we found her mother again. If it had been my mum, she would have screamed where was i, but not my best friend’s mum! She didn’t seem bothered, she gave us a lolly pop and we went to get ice cream! Best. mum. EVER!  Thank you for your reply!
        Tara.

  • http://twitter.com/conorsen Conor Sen

    This remains one of my favorite posts of yours — curious to hear your thoughts on this subject as time passes.

  • Famexnipog

    In light of recent revelations over NSA surveillance abuses, I would like to hear what you think about 9/11 being significantly more related to this turning as the onset of, and possible challenge of the US surveillance state. Is the issue of privacy in the modern era the root of this turning?