My grandma’s vaccum cleaner taught me a valuable lesson. I have never seen anything like this. This thing probably weighed 40 pounds and it came with a 25 year warranty. Being a Millennial, I was baffled when my Grandma told me she bought it in the 1970s. How was this thing still working?
Traditionalists/Silent Gen (1927-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and even Gen Xers (1965-1980) made purchases that were going to last them a lifetime.
Many generations born before 1980 have a “settle and stay” mentality. They buy a house in their 30s and live in it until they retire. The American dream includes buying a long lasting oak bedroom set and matching furniture throughout the house, being careful to include family heirloom pieces.
The older generation bought to last.
Our generation is a mobile one. I know people who don’t even have a vaccum, but just set their Roomba loose while they are at work. We buy condos to sell them and make a profit. We buy IKEA stuff knowing that we will replace it in 3 years when our job moves us across the country. We use Netflix instead of buying the collectors set of “Friends” on DVD. We value digital content over hard copies. We are global nomads, spending money on experiences rather than stuff.
There is no question that generations adapt to the times and workforce culture. Our lifestyles have to adjust. But I wonder if these “IKEA” mentality doesn’t have an affect on our relationships?
Do we idolize our lighter lifestyles? Do we think about investing into relationships that are built to last?
The older generations had the expectation that marriage was for life. They desired less change and less adventure. The Traditionalists were children of the Depression, and reached for stability as their highest value. That stability has slid into less of a need with each progressive generation. Nothing is permanent to us.
The relational wisdom of older generations, especially Traditionalists, still matters.
I want to challenge my fellow Millennials and Centennials to learn these important values of commitment, stability and compromise from the older generations. Not everything is disposable, and lets not forget it.
As we reach around the world, let’s keep the values of permanence in relationships intact.
For more on generations, check out The Six Living Generations in America.