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Who Is Generation X?

Who is Generation X? Latchkey Kids, Baby Busters, Slackers, Thirteeners

Who is Generation X? We are all of the above, the so-called lost and forgotten generation whose birth years by broadest definition were between 1961 and 1981. Thus, the age range of Gen-Xers in 2024 is 42 to 62 years old. According to these parameters, there are approximately 70 million Gen-Xers currently living in the United States. Unfortunately, journalists, sociologists, historians, marketers, etc., frequently move the parameters to fit a narrative or theory. At times, the number of Gen-Xers is under-reported. For example, the birth years of 1965 to 1980 would correlate with roughly 50 million Americans. Also, all numbers are inclusive of immigrants.

Gen X, the Proverbial Middle Child of History

The proverbial middle-children of history, Generation X is stuck in the middle between two larger and more boisterous generations, the Millennials and the Baby Boomers. Above all, we are the overprotective helicopter parents of Millennials and Generation Z. Secondly, we are the under-protected children of Baby Boomers and the Lucky Few, more frequently referred to as the Silent Generation. For whatever reason (there are many) we are frequently ignored, which leaves us famously brooding as we are often dismissed by marketers, the media, historians, etc. CBSN validated this point in 2019 when they omitted us from a chart defining all living generations. Nevertheless, we do exist. Despite the trend to “erase us” we remain the 13th generation of Americans. Accordingly, before the term Gen X caught on, they called us thirteeners and Baby Busters.

Definition: Who Is Generation X? What Are The Years?

Generation X includes people born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. Academics and marketing experts frequently debate the collective persona of Gen-Xers. The term traditionally applies to North Americans (the United States and Canada); Australia; England; Ireland and various other European countries. Today, there are about 70 million members of Generation X in the United States. Baby Buster was our original name because our birth years followed a baby boom that began after World War II. That boom declined in 1957. The FDA further hastened it with the approval of oral contraceptives in 1960. About 6.5 million women were on “the pill” by 1965 and abortion was legalized in 1973. Some have referred to us as a nameless and unlucky generation.

What Years Are Generation X?

The years for Gen X vary among historians, government agencies, and marketing firms. Here’s how some break it down.

  • Neil Howe and the late William Strauss defined the generation in the broadest terms I have come across: 1961 to 1981. They wrote this book, 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? about Xers. It’s available on Amazon and I highly recommend it.
  • The United States Social Security Administration defines Generation X as “those born roughly between 1964 and 1979.
  • Another federal agency, the U.S. Department of Defense, sets the parameters at 1965 to 1977.
  • George Masnick of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies sets the Baby Buster years at 1965 to 1984.

Primarily, generations stem from shared experiences. Depending on your birth order, the area of the country where you grew up and other influences, you may identify with one generation more than another. That is perfectly fine. All of this is subjective. It’s worth noting the simple definition of a generation found at

  • The entire body of individuals born and living at about the same time…
  • The term of years, roughly 30 among human beings, accepted as the average period between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring.
  • A group of individuals, most of whom are the same approximate age, having similar ideas, problems, attitudes, etc. (Compare Beat Generation, Lost Generation, etc.)
  • A group of individuals belonging to a specific category at the same time…

Ultimately, opinions vary on when generations begin and end. You must decide for yourself where you belong. In my opinion, people should claim the generation whose collective persona most reflects their own life experiences.

Generation X Ages | How Big Is Generation X?

The age range for Generation X as of 2020 is 38 to 58 (my broadest definition). We are currently the “sandwich generation” in America. We are caring for aging parents and raising about 50 percent of the nation’s children under 18. According to Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture, Generation X was born during the single most anti-child phase in American history. In the early 1960s, the birth control pill became widely available, and in 1973, abortion was legalized. These two factors contributed to Generation X’s low numbers. (Suggested reading on the impact of abortion on Generation X: A Nameless, Unlucky Generation)

According to Jeff Gordinier, in his book, How Generation X Got the Shaft, But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, Baby Boomers number 76 million and Millennials, 80 million. Generation X is sandwiched between them with 46 million. This is expertly challenged, however, by the 2010 Census, which puts the total U.S. population around 311.8 million. The following numbers are for everyone over 18. These individuals collectively represent 236.8 million Americas.

  • G.I. (born 1901-1924), 4.5 million
  • Silent (born 1925-1942), 26.2 million
  • Baby Boomer (born 1943-1960), 65.6 million
  • Generation X (born 1961-1981), 65.2 million
  • Generation Y (born 1982-2001) 18+, 52.0 million
  • Two-thirds of the remaining 75 million are Gen Y who are under 18
  • The remaining one-third (25 to 30 million) is Generation Z.

So, why do we hear that Generation X is so small when the numbers tell a different story? That’s a great question with a relatively simple answer: immigration.

Characteristics of Gen Xers

A little ditty ’bout Jack and Diane Two American kids growing up in the Heartland… Jack and Diane, John Cougar Mellencamp, 1982

When it comes to generations, characteristics and traits are chiefly referred to as the collective persona. Not everyone buys into generational theory and some accuse historians, marketers, and social scientists of stereotyping people. I enjoyed the book, Generations, by Neil Howe and the late William Strauss. These historians came up with a “bold and imaginative” theory that is based on recurring generational cycles in American history. That history began in 1584. This theory is difficult to summarize, and I couldn’t do it justice even if I tried. A brief overview of the framework, however, may inspire you to check their book out of your local library.

Basically, the historians maintain that generations fall into one of four archetypes and occur in one of four cycles that go on repeating themselves. The archetypes are prophet, nomad, hero, artist and the cycles are high, awakening, unraveling and crisis. Consequently, everything they’ve written about Generation X has been spot-on for me. Others may see it differently. With that, here are some of the stereotypical traits of Generation X. Keep in mind, much of this persona was fleshed out in the 1980 and 90s. Today, Xers are in or approaching middle age and a different persona has emerged.

Gen-Xers – Adrift, Apathetic, Cynical

In youth and childhood, Gen Xers were often described as being adrift. The archetype of loner emerged. In reality, members, especially young men, were disenfranchised by a loss of familial support and later technology. Think video games. In adulthood, the introspective, disconnected Gen-Xer has re-engaged through social media. We’ve discovered that our stories aren’t unique. In fact, the narratives are strikingly similar. Facebook is dominated by Generation X and through millions of status updates we’ve discovered our shared history, our shared secrets. Many Gen-Xers distrust authority and large institutions including corporations, religious institutions, and the government. The following is a list of historical events that occurred during Generation X’s coming of age, which contributed to the Gen-Xer-As-Cynic stereotype.

  • The Energy Crisis of the 1970s
  • Watergate
  • Iran Contra (the 1980s)
  • Nuclear Disasters including Three-Mile Island
  • Silkwood/Kerr McGee
  • Union Carbide and Chernobyl
  • Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
  • Widespread Layoffs of the 1980s
  • Dot Com Boom and Bust of the 1990s
  • Corporate Greed
  • Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal

In more recent years, the Great Recession has underscored and validated that cynicism. It was Generation X, not Gen Y that founded Occupy Wall Street.


A lot of Gen Xers struggled to find jobs after college. According to a federal report, the year my husband graduated from college (1988), there was a sharp rise in joblessness among college-educated men, age 24 and under. (It rose from 4.8 to 7.9.) This trend continued until 1991. The situation wasn’t much better for Gen X women. Thus, many Gen Xers roamed aimlessly after college, unable to secure jobs with their expensive Bachelor’s degrees.

In fact, the student loan scandal originated with Generation X. For example, my sisters, who are eight and 10 years older than me, got 3-percent loans. My loans, however, were 8 percent. The cost of a college education was higher for Generation X and the jobs were more scarce. When you did find one, you couldn’t make enough money to make your loan payments. So we deferred them or defaulted on them. It was all so very messy. People talk about Millennials and the student loan crisis, but it began with Generation X.


Xers are reportedly the hardest working generation in the workforce — the “workhorses of America.” Longtime, mid-level careerists are finally ascending to the corner office and their no-nonsense leadership will bring refreshing changes to the workplace. This includes greater workplace flexibility and an ability to understand the needs of a multi-generational workforce better than anyone.

Reality Bites

Many of the aforementioned problems are among the themes explored in the iconic Gen X movie Reality Bites. Janeane Garafalo plays a college graduate working as a sales associate at The Gap. In addition to making Winona Ryder the darling of her generation, the film helped nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of Generation X. In fact, famous Gen X entrepreneurs include the founders of Google, Twitter, and Amazon. Unfortunately, the movie also helped nurture a negative stereotype of Generation X: The Slacker who lives in his parents’ basement well into adulthood. This image is one of the reasons many Gen Xers distanced themselves from identifying with their generation. Today, younger Gen Xers take more pride in the Gen X label than older Xers who endured the original stereotype. In fact, “Generation X” pretty much remained a pejorative until Millennials began receiving an insane amount of media coverage around 2012.

Educated, Ethnically Diverse, Individualistic

Compared to the generations that came before us, Generation X is a highly-educated generation of Americans. More than 60 percent of Gen-Xers have attended college at one time or another. Generation X grew up without segregation. They grew up loving Different Strokes and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. These cultural influences contributed to a generation that is more accepting and inclusive of others. Generation X has long embraced diversity. Moreover, Hip Hop is widely recognized as the music born of Generation X.

Also, we also pride ourselves on being individualistic. Our mothers worked and our fathers left. Perhaps for you, it was the other way around. Either way, divorce was a major factor in the developing resourcefulness, independence, and self-sufficiency of Generation X. Autonomy was a consequence of unstable childhoods. Interestingly, the lack of coddling in childhood has created a generation of parents who coddle their kids’ every whim. This overcompensation is defined as over-parenting. (More on Gen-Xers as parents below.)

Casual Disdain for Everything, Authority

Generation X is often criticized for a snarky and casual disdain for authority. In the workplace, they want freedom coupled with responsibility and they hate being micromanaged. This has created decades of conflict between the Baby Boomers and Gen Xer. The American workforce is an interesting state of transition right now because every day thousands of Baby Boomers retire.

Technologically Astute, Flexible

Tech-savvy Gen-Xers have come of age during an interesting time in the world. We remember rotary dial phones and the explosion of mobile technology. Liquid Paper and plunking out term papers on typewriters. Together, we grew up in a world without social media and yet have adapted to it – even invented it. Maybe it was our turbulent childhoods, but Generation X has proven highly adaptable to change. We saw our parents lose so many jobs. As a result, we remained committed to making whatever changes were necessary in order to get ahead. This has contributed to Generation X being viewed as disloyal to employers or uncommitted to jobs. In reality, Gen-Xers are committed to their own survival.

Work-Life Balance

Gen-Xers value work-life balance. How else could we coach soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring all while serving as Boy Scout Troop leader? Gen-Xers value work-life balance because they know the job you sacrifice everything for might not be there tomorrow. Why give it all and lose your family in the process?

Unprotected Childhood: Latchkey Generation

Gen X was born during the greatest anti-child phase in modern American history. The following underscored our childhoods.

  • Legalized Abortion (Roe vs. Wade)
  • Invention of Birth Control
  • Divorce and ultimately, absent fathers
  • Working Mothers; Especially Working Single Moms
  • Latchkey Kids

Who Is Generation X – Historical Events

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where ninety-nine red balloons go by
–99 Luftballons, Nena, 1983

Generation X and The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended racial segregation in schools. Thus, Generation X in its entirety was raised in schools that were racially diverse. In 2010, a Florida newspaper ran an article about Generation X being the first “colorblind” generation. Other key historical events are listed under the cultural touchstones portion of this article. They include nuclear events like Three Mile Island, the Gulf War, the Cold War, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and the Berlin Wall.

Divorce, Working Moms, Latchkey Kids Shape Generation X

From the late 1960s to the 1980s, divorce rates in the United States more than doubled. In 1969, no-fault divorce laws swept across America leaving the wreckage of broken homes from coast-to-coast. The primary casualties were young Gen-Xers. In the 1970s, 50 percent of us became children of divorce. In addition, between 1969 and 1996, the number of working mothers in the workforce also doubled. Consequently, many households were headed by working single moms. It’s estimated that as many as 40 percent of Gen Xers were latchkey kids who returned home from school to empty houses. Their childhoods and youth were marked by a lack of supervision, excessive household and family responsibilities, and isolation.

Rushed Through Childhood

The pendulum swung wide on the consequences of the latchkey childhood. Unsupervised Gen X children and youth ran the gamut of those who watched too much TV and didn’t do their homework to those who fell into escalating levels of crime. According to Coupland, inwardly-focused Baby Boomers sometimes regarded their children as “obstacles to their self-exploration,” and thus resulted in permissive parenting of grand proportion. In addition, on top of spending many hours bored and lonely, Coupland also concludes that Generation X was “rushed through childhood.” Today, the number of latchkey kids has declined. In 2000, Generation X parents along with school administrators helped to get federal legislation passed, which provided seed money for after-school tutoring programs in lower-income schools. Generation Xers understand firsthand how dangerous the hours between 3 to 6 p.m. can be for children.

Generation X, The Cold War, and Terrorism

In summary, pretty much everything I have to say about Generation X and the Cold War is highlighted in a radio commentary I wrote in September 2011. Apart from this, you may be interested in some of these posts. Search the Cold War tag to find all these posts:

  • 5 world views shaped by sesame street and the Berlin Wall
  • Berlin Wall film on PBS [The Wall – A World Divided]
  • Thawing of Cold War Precipitated Hundreds of Base Closures
  • 4 examples of Cold-War culture that shaped our fear of Russia
  • My Perestroika and the Rise of Soviet Nostalgia


Finally, for more information on events of historical significance, read the posts below including Five Forgotten Protests of Generation X. They include Love Canal, Earth Day 1990, and protests against apartheid.

Gen-Xer As Parent

During childhood, Generation X was an unprotected generation, and consequently, one of the most in modern history. There were no after-school programs when we were growing up. Divorce and addiction broke our families. Sexual abuse was rampant and largely unchecked. These terrible experiences birthed a generation of helicopter parents. Over-parenting is the norm for the Gen Xer. (We wrote the book on extreme kid birthday parties.) Tami Erickson of Harvard Business Review pointed out the upside of all this. She called us the most devoted parents in American history. I loved that. Hence, I’ve written the following posts about the Gen-Xer as mom or dad (parents).

Fashion and Pop Culture Touchstones

Ultimately, answering the query of Who Is Generation X (Gen X / Gen Xer) is an ongoing project. Therefore, I would love to have your help! I’m always adding to the following list of cultural touchstones.

  • Cold, Sugary Cereals
  • Saturday Morning Cartoons
  • MTV – MTV had a big impact on fashion. Think Madonna with her lace everything. Bustiers, bangles, and chains. Also, Michael Jackson jackets and gloves. MC Hammer pants, parachute pants, acid-washed jeans, neon. and much more.
  • Grunge Music and perhaps most importantly, Kurt Cobain
  • Environmental Disasters – Three-Mile Island, Love Canal and also, Union Carbide
  • Who is Generation X? The Gen-Xer in Flannel, of course.
  • Designer Jeans, especially Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache, Chic, Bill Blass
  • Big Hair
  • Michael Jackson, Styx, Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger, Air Supply.

More Touchstones + Generation Jones and Xennials

  • John Hughes Films —The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and particularly, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Obviously, his movies do a great job of answering the Who Is Generation X question!)
  • Berlin Wall and above all, the Cold War
  • Overwhelmingly, Latchkey Kids and Children of Divorce
  • HIV/AIDS and the Safe Sex Movement
  • Boom Boxes followed by Walkmans — Without a doubt, they gave us the ability to make our music “mobile”
  • The word ALTERNATIVE — Applied to everything from people, music, clothes, and more.
  • Just Say No to Drugs Campaign
  • Microwaves and especially, the explosion of fast food chains
  • Fitness Movement and particularly Aerobics 
  • Cable TV and Satellite –The expansion of television from just a few channels to a few hundred! Also, remember when the weather impacted reception? We were always adjusting the antennae. “Just a little more to the right,” my dad would say as I stood in front of the TV trying to get the clearest picture. Also, who can forget the excitement of waiting for Saturday morning cartoons?
  • VHS and Video Stores — Weekends started with a trip to the video store. The whole family debated and negotiated what movie to rent. (Be kind. Rewind.)

Gen Jones, Xennials and Who is Gen X To You?

Ultimately, who is Generation X to you? If you have an idea or contribution please leave me a note or send me an email or Facebook message. In addition, you may also want to check out a fun infographic I created about the sordid parade characters Generation X grew up with. In addition, Generation Jones is a micro-generation between Boomers and Generation X. Gen Jones was born between 1954 and 1965. Xennials are another micro-generation born between 1977 and 1984.


Finally, this blog post, “Who is Generation X,” is copyrighted. Please don’t repost without permission. If you reference it in your research, please list the source.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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Who Is Generation X? (Gen X) A Lost Generation; Forgotten Middle Children of History)
Article Name
Who Is Generation X? (Gen X) A Lost Generation; Forgotten Middle Children of History)
Who is Generation X including age range, years, size, characteristics, events, history, photos from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. An intro to the lost generation of latchkey kids that lived the 80s.
The Jennifer Chronicles


  1. James

    I’m always frustrated that everyone thinks Gen X is grunge and hip-hop but us earlier Gen Xers or all about hair metal.. We made millionaires out of bands like quiet riot motley Crue poison Van Halen and the British bands Judas Priest iron maiden and eventually the thrash bands like Metallica and Megadeth..

    • E

      Thank you for your comment! I agree with you.

      We were the last generation to be outside until dark, ride in the back of a truck, drink from a hose, best TV and movies, we’ve seen the changes in music genre and rock is still the most popular music. Rock music is in country music now. Early generation X are very different than, late generation X. Early Xers were part of the 70s.

      Motley Crue had a problem, every song degrated women and treated them like whores and should not wear much. It got old fast. However we (girls) went to the concerts and sang their songs about women , which as a woman looking back we looked foolish singing those lyrics. Generation X is misunderstood.

      • E

        Baby bombers are;
        narcissist, yuppies, all about themselves, disregard others feelings, don’t care if they hurt you, insensitive, and their sense of reality is warped.

        Generation X are none of those

    • Melissa

      Another part of the Gen X music scene was small independent record labels, regional alternative music, college rock stations, and bands like REM, 10,000 Maniacs, Pixies, Butthole Surfers, Poi Dog Pondering, Sugar, Cowboy Junkies, etc… And the invention of CDs to replace cassette tapes that happened during the mid to late eighties. And independent film became a big thing as well. Artists didn’t have to rely on major labels or companies to get their work seen and/or heard.

    • Korey

      I agree with you. Quiet Riot was my First Favorite Rock Band! Born in 1972. I think the distinction is the music that shaped our generation vs the music our generation shaped. By the time Grunge and HipHop came on strong most of those artists were Gen X.

  2. John

    I don’t believe I’m a Gen Xer or a boomer, because I don’t fit either group. I’m a Gen Joneser, and if you research the Jonesers, you will understand…their “experience” is unlike either generation before or after, and please, if you still think Jonesers are Xers, ask any of them about Kurt Cobain….many have no idea who he is, and I never heard of him before he passed, so how can he represent me? He can’t. He was too young. Personally, I think Gen X is way way too large for all the diversity in that generation….the world changed radically in those years, and many Xers have zero in common. This will all get worked out in the years to come though.

  3. John

    Wow….My wife is a Gen X, and I am supposed to be a late ‘boomer’ (1958). I don’t feel much like a boomer though. I was a back to lander type (still am), definitely protested apartheid, and was pro solidarity movement, liked Jimmy Carter. Was too young for hippie, and woodstock. Still am Gov skeptic, corporatocracy etc.

    • Korey

      Look up Generation Jones. It is a micro generation. You were born on the cusp of the ending of the baby boom and the beginning of Gen X. You probably share some traits of both.

  4. Charles Spain

    I stumbled upon your article, and I am amazed at how closely it resembles my life. It is the closest thing to being understood I have ever experienced.

    Someone with an outsized influence on GenX culture is Eddie Van Halen.

    Take care.

    • Jennifer

      Hi Charles – I’m glad you stopped by and left a note. Godpseed. And, I agree about Eddie.

    • Harry Miller

      I was just about to type out pretty much the same thing you said except for Van Halen. For me, the influence was Eddie Money, The Outfield, and a few others.

  5. #1 Dad

    Found this randomly, so your search term game is pretty tight, lol. Excellent post. It’s really spot on and insightful. I was born in 1981. I have considered myself Gen X for years but have never felt confident in that declaration. Until today. I identify with lots of the Xers traits listed. Parents divorced at 10. Single mom worked untill 9pm most days. So lots unsupervised time to clean the house followed by roaming the neighborhood looking for thrills. And lots of music and TV to escape into. Also, lots of the “personality traits” you describe are eerily applicable to me. However, I was a baby during the 80s. I remember that time being awesome. At least, that’s what I’m told. This is were the generational angst comes into play. Too old for TikTok and too young for taking pride in knowing how to write in cursive (I know how to, just don’t care). Also, my parents are Mexican immigrants so that really kind of throws a curveball into how I define my American Experience.

    Personally, I feel the biggest distinction between Gen X and Millenials is the internet and computers. If you were born with fast internet and computers as an everyday expectation then you are a Millenial. If you had to use a dial up internet connection and computers were considered luxury or specialist equipment then you’re an Gen Xer. I think the internet (World Wide Web, lol,) is a definitive generational divide.

    You asked for some cultural mentions. I think the birth and rise of electronic music/DJ/club culture was a significant part of the late 80s and early 90s. There are lots of things that wouldn’t exist if that era never happened. This was a predominantly minority and underground driven movement so the story gets buried and lost once it becomes popular and marketable.

    Well, that’s all from me. Thanks for the inspiration. I can now finally hold my head up high and proclaim to the world in a resounding and powerful; Meh. I am Gen X, hear me roar. Or don’t. Whatever. I don’t care.

    Take care.

    • Jennifer

      Loved your comment. Especially the last five sentences before “Take care.” LOL. I agree about the club culture. The whole concept of underground / underground-driven was so exciting. I miss those days so much…You’re definitely an Xer. Poor folks born in 1982 don’t know what to do with themselves. Also, I still call it the world wide web. LOL.

      • Beth

        Yes they do, they call themselves Generation X thank you. How about if you don’t go around categorizing us!!

  6. NOT a boomer

    On the topic of the start/end dates for GenX, thanks for starting with 1960. As for comments to the contrary, it would seem that that guy who wrote the book, Generation X, talking about his and his friends’ experiences trying to navigate young adulthood in the shadow of boomers, should get to actually BE part of that generation. I appreciate that people born in the late 70s might not feel connected to those of us like Douglas Coupland and myself who were born in 1961, but really, our guy defined the term, so I think we should be included, even if Douglas doesn’t like the use of the term.

    Also, I think some of the differences between experiences and attitudes might be traced to our parents. Mine were very young when I was born, so they were at the very end of the Silent Generation and they likely they experienced life more like boomers – didn’t have to have as much education to get decent jobs, for example, although they were just enough older than hippie boomers to not be hippies. I can imagine if you are my age and were raised by older parents that your life experience might be a little different than mine.

    But yes, half my friends and acquaintances had broken families (I was part of the other 50%). Yes, my mom worked, and when I was old enough, I stayed home by myself instead of staying with some lady down the street. I learned to cook by making whatever Mom had planned in time for dinner to be ready when everyone got home. Yes, I used typewriters all through college (and felt that the one guy that had a Macintosh was cheating because he didn’t have to retype his entire paper when he needed to rewrite a section).

    I got to graduate from college right into the early 80s recession, so yay. No jobs for people with degrees. Or without them. Found a job designed specifically for “bright people without degrees” – marketed as “low-cost support”. Not much more than minimum wage. Married when I was nearly 30 (how common is this for GenX?), had 3 kids in the next 14 years (again, how common is late motherhood – like having a kid in your 30s and 40s for GenXers?). Stayed home for a couple of years early on, then went back to work part time, then full time. Worked my way up, went back to school and got an MA, then an MBA, finally got promoted to manager. Did that for 10+ years, then got laid off at 55 along with about 20% of the other people my age I know from all walks of life – engineers, graphics people, writers, managers. Guess all our hard work ended up costing our companies more than they wanted to pay. Some of us have been able to find jobs again in the past 5 years, often at a significant reduction in salary, others haven’t.

    I’ll be 60 in a few months. Me and Obama. I do NOT connect to boomers. DO NOT CALL ME A BOOMER, not even a young one. They were the hippies and the yuppies and the “leave my family to find myself” ME ME ME generation. The entire world rotated around them and whatever they were doing.

    Not us. We’ve kept our noses to the grindstone and tried to deal with the next thing, then the next, then the next – part of the precarity. Always trying to pay off debt, now for parent loans for our children’s exorbitantly priced college while we keep tabs on their grandparents, thankful they don’t need financial support from us while our kids get launched. Retirement looms in a few years, but even here, we have to wait a few more years than our boomer buds, because congress keeps moving the start date for full retirement with soc sec closer to 70.

    NOT a boomer. Don’t even.

    • Jennifer

      I LOVE THIS!!! I will always agree with Strauss and Howe that Generation X begins in 1961. Obama is a Gen-Xer, and most certainly are you. My brother, born in 1962, also. In fact, I said this on the FB page not too long and some people kind of freaked out. But, the most Gen-X of the Xers are the first-wavers who had everything you described above wash over them first. You were the first of the first in the anti-child phase of American history. Thanks so much for stopping and leaving a comment. I got a great laugh over this line: “he didn’t have to retype his entire paper when he needed to rewrite a section.” I can totally relate and for a split second the angst of having to retype the whole paper washed over me!

    • Lisa

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Born in 1964 and totally identify as Gen X. Really aggravating when 1964 is put in with boomers. No way is anybody born after 1960 a boomer.

      • Paul D Talbott

        Lisa, completely agree with you. I was born in 1964 and have never identified with boomers selfishness and social conservatism. Like you, I identify much more closely with Gen X, but I like the above description of Generation Jones which specifically defines those born in the transition from Boomer to Gen X. Approximately 1956-1964.

  7. Josh

    The clean air act. LA was a smog capital, it is absolutely beautiful by comparison today.

    Although give it time and I’m sure the smoke from the fires will change that….

    We set things into motion with the massive proliferation of batteries and with their increasing capacities things became more and more mobile to the point where we now have electric cars that are not just little RC cars that we can run for 15 minutes. I think small things like that are often underlooked but when my father was a child who was born in 1957 getting batteries for toys was expensive and because we lived in the sticks of Michigan it was kind of hard for them to do sometimes the gas stations or whatever wouldn’t always have them and they didn’t last very long. By 1985 we had rechargeable ones pretty commonly. I think being able to take energy with you in the form of a discrete packet like that has really really change this planet.

    • Jennifer

      What a memory jog. I totally remember going to the gas station as a kid to get batteries for a doll. By the next day, the batteries were dead and the doll never crawled again. Sad at the time, but funny now. Great comment, Josh. Thank you. Regarding energy, you also reminded me of how mobile music has become. When I was a kid living in Rural America, we had a record player, but the needle was broken. Throughout all our travels over several years, we were literally looking for a needle in a haystack. We never did get it replaced and the albums stayed on a shelf gathering dust. Today, we have practically any song at our fingertips 24/7.

  8. Martin

    Too funny, I guess because you were so spot on. Thanks Jennifer for such an informative/entertaining rehash.
    I was online looking for gym clothes that’d fit a 54yr old male and it led me to your site.
    Didn’t realize it was over 5yrs old until reaching the bottom of the replies.
    After reading it, I am certainly sure that I’m a gen Xer.
    Now, I’ve gotta find some gym clothes that’ll hide my COVID/beer gut.
    Thanks again and keep writing.

    • Jennifer

      LOL. I’m glad to know that the search string led you here. Too funny. Yes, the post is getting pretty old, but it’s the most popular post on the site. I do try to update it occasionally, but the date remains the same. I’m so glad you stopped by and left a note!

      • Nyisha

        Thank you for writing this article, you hit the nail on target. GENX is a very unique people and I am proud to be in this group. Again thanks for the great article, without being negative towards use.

        • Jennifer

          Hi Nyisha! Thank you so much for leaving such a nice note. I hope you have a fabulous day and will visit again soon!

  9. Jackie

    I’m a very tail-end Gen Xer born in early 1980 and to me the 1965-1980 definition is accurate. I identify Millennials as those born from China’s implementation of the One Child Policy in September 1980 up to the end of 1995. Or it can also be from Reagan’s Election in November 1980 up to 1995 but globally speaking the societal shift to the new age began in September 1980 with the One Child Policy, international debut of Pacman which boomed the electronic game industry. So Reagan’s election was just the icing of the cake. Even though I’m on the border between X & Y but all the traits of Gen X are spot on for me. I cringe at the Xennial label and for me, its a myth that us late Gen Xers have Y traits. Maybe with some but certainly not everybody. My siblings are all Older millennials born in the 80s and honestly, I can’t naturally relate to them and find myself having to adjust. I grew up watching too much TV and don’t study hard. Immersed myself too much in 80s pop culture, ugly political climate and lost my innocence and childhood at a very young age. At only 5 years old, I already had crushes both at school and celebrity (Ricky Martin of Menudo was my childhood crush) which is very weird for a 5 year old and since I entered grade 1, I was thrusted the responsibility of taking care of my baby/toddler siblings and running the house while both my older Boomer parents were working. And whenever they come home late at night and saw the messy house or if one of my siblings speak to them against me, I immediately get a spanking from my dad using his belt knuckle. In addition, more than half of my class were fellow latchkey children who came from broken families with mostly their absent dads being drug addicts or in jail. Many times I envy my Millennial siblings not only because my parents favored them more than me but also they grew up in a time when children’s rights of protection became institutionalized globally and parents (including mine) began spending more time with their kids.

    • Jennifer

      Hi Jackie, I always cherish comments like this – the ones that tell the story to which we can all relate on some level. Smart observations, too, about the one-child policy. I hadn’t really thought of that until now. At times it feels like Pac Man itself was the beginning of the end. I feel so old these days, unable to relate to the language or pop culture icons of my Gen-Z kids. Alas, a Gen-Xer has fallen out of touch. I feel slightly proud and slightly ashamed. LOL. Your experience is spot-on Gen-X, as I often say when reading stories like this. The older I get, the more I realize the adverse childhood effects are part of a story that will never change and cannot be rewritten. Still, there is my prayer life and God and hope for the future. I hold onto that, but somedays, it’s easier than others. Thank you for stopping by. I always got in trouble for the messy house as a teenager. I remember my dad screaming at me one time for always cooking such greasy food — “chicken fried steak swimming in fat.” I was 15…and trying, honestly, to make him so happy. Love to you wherever you are! –jen

  10. Liz

    Coventry League Capital Partners decided to link to your wonderful article about Gen-X. In its article, “Cyberpunk 2077 Day: CD Projekt and Video Gaming Industry,” CLCP briefly refers to Gen-X with regard to how the video gaming industry has changed.

    Great resource. Much obliged.

    • Jennifer

      Wow! Thank you so much! I look forward to reading the article.

  11. Jackie

    I was born in early 1980 which puts me in the tail end of Gen X and every description written is spot on for me. The Xennial label doesn’t fit me at all. I can never forget the times I read in encyclopedias and what our teacher mentioned that there were two Germanys and in just a matter of few years, it became one. Also the same with USSR, its been a while before I get accustomed with the name Russian Federation. As for lack of parenting, true enough. I remember that more than half of my class were raised in broken homes and had to depend on oneself. Its very sad but true which is why we don’t want our kids to undergo the same suffering we had when we were young. Helicopter parenting is bad but when you don’t have a role model of a healthy parent, getting rid of it is easier said than done.

  12. S. P.

    Just ran across this article and as an Xer myself (model year ’78), it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. Good job!

    I had the benefit of not being a latchkey broken-home kid unlike a lot of my peers, but that’s just because I was dropped into my Silent Gen grandparents’ laps. I ended up a bit of an outlier of my own, haha.

    I too miss drinking from the garden hose and running everywhere barefoot, being able to bike into town (when old enough) to buy a soda and so on. The smell of hose water still sends chills up my spine. Bands still made up of people playing real wood and metal instruments, no auto-tune, the rise of synth, and that special energy only 80’s music has. Hip-hop and rap when it was a little goofy. Singers being distinct from one another. A real appreciation for hand drawn animation, practical effects and well done greenscreening in movies.

    Anyone else here who pretended to touch type while the teacher was looking, but really spent the class time mastering Oregon Trail?

    Broderbund Print Shop!

    Tractor-feed paper and the classic dot-matrix sound.

    Microfilm and fiche, card catalogs.

    VCRs almost the same size as the TV, never learning to program one and having to stake out the television to record the show you wanted.

    Buying my first cassette tape, and later my first CD.

    I do have to say, it was a shock even as a kid when they started pushing the everyone-wins policies in school, when I’d been raised in a strong merit system. That may have been part of what disenfranchised some of those in my particular age group; we got overlooked even when we excelled (and in my case once, even reprimanded). I still only feel entitled to what I’ve earned myself, and God help you if you come for what’s mine =p

    • Jennifer

      Great list. Tractor-feed paper and the classic dot-matrix sound – the first time I think this has ever been mentioned on the blog. Brings back nightmares of procrastinating on college papers and having to fiddle with tractor-feed paper!

  13. Nicolas

    Hello Jennifer,

    I agree with most of the content of the article but not the dates. I was born in 1973, I have little in common with those born before 1964. These people are really young boomers. I mean, Obama is NOT my generation! There is a reason the Pew Center starting date is 1965.

    However, in France (and in Europe at large), the rise in divorce rates, AIDS and growth in PCs are similar trends to that of the US. So there are global currents surrounding the generation. What is important to acknowledge is that, after 1980, there is definitely a transition. A cut-off point. I mean, I simply cannot relate to those born after 1980 (and even 1980 is pushing it!)

    As to the early 1990s US “Slacker” type image which has come to define the generation (wrongly, IMO and certainly not the full cohort), I believe this is down to 3 factors.

    (1) Economic Conditions of the late 80s/early 90s

    Early Gen Xers took the full brunt of the recession which enveloped Europe too. Many of the first cohort had graduated in the midst of the economic downturn. I remember a friend of mine, 3 years unemployed, after graduating in 1992 with a Masters in Law.

    The situation was as bad in the US as it was in Europe.

    (2) End of the unwritten contract between employers/employees

    3 decades of growth came to an end and the unwritten social contract between employers and employees, which had endured during the 1960s and 1970s and scheduled to last until retirement was no longer applicable with, by the late 1980s, large-scale layoffs of boomers, corporate downsizing and accelerated offshoring of production.

    This had terrible consequences. And greater uncertainty. Even in France with its more generous social model. And yet boomers did not listen or show any empathy whatsoever.

    (3) Dissafection with Politics

    I think early Gen Xers also became disaffected with politics. And not specific to the US. For those on the left of the political spectrum, there was disappointment with the previous boomer student mobilizations of the 1960s. The move towards a consumerist “greed is good” culture during the 1980s felt, to a greater extent, hypocrisy if not outright betrayal. The end of the socialist utopia with the fall of the Berlin Wall, also, moreover, added to the disillusionment.

    In a nutshell, there was no political (and economic) alternative to the existing model. We tried to decry the system but to no avail. No one was hearing us.

    Least to say, none of the above was experienced by younger Gen-Xers born at the cusp-end so they would not relate. How could they? Under the Clinton administration, there was an economic recovery and we were riding on the crest of the internet wave. I remember all too well. It was optimism galore after 1995. Even when the bubble burst, in the US, unemployment had fallen from 7.5% in 1992 to 4% in 2000! The situation was reflected in Europe too.

    After all these years, I think our generation was overlooked. Boomers vs Millenials. What about the middle-child? Thanks God there is synthwave which allows me to live back some of these years which are so dear to me.

    Kind Regards,


    • Jennifer

      One thing I still try to understand is the dot come bubble burst. I pay attention, but honestly, this major event escaped me. I just don’t remember the fallout from it or it didn’t impact me – at least not that I can recall.

      I appreciate your comments and you make some great points. I have never written about the unwritten contract between employers and employees. My husband graduated college in 1988 — the worst year for college graduates to find jobs. It was Reality Bites for him in reality.

      As far as the debate over years, it seems like no other generation debates their beginnings and ends as much as Gen-Xers. Millennials are always moving the bookends so they can call themselves Millennials. (I’ve seen politicians born in 1979 do this so they can capture votes and the wave…) Boomers don’t mind extending the years to 1964. Perhaps it reassures their youth, dominance, etc. Gen-Xers debate the years because they don’t want to either be identified as being Gen-X or they don’t want to be associated with people of a certain demographic that they more readily perceive as Boomers or Millennials. What do you think?

      • M Tourette

        Some insights on your posts and info request: The unemployment rate is not an accurate measurement of employment. This is especially true under the Obama administration, when the U3 and U4 numbers were being manipulated. How can 92 of 320 Americans be out of work and the unemployment rate is 4%? The labor participation rate is the figure one should examine when determining who is employed. The .dot com bubble burst in 1999-2000, and the most memorable example was It was a strange phenomenon, but I would compare it to a crowdfund campiagn where everyone backs a project but the crowdfunder never delivers. People invested in flashy .dot coms that went bust under their own weight. It actually contributed to the recession that came about before Clinton’s term ended. It’s ironic: America was actually coming out of the recession triggered by H.W. Bush’s tax increase before Clinton’s inauguration, but people tend to think that the opposite was true: that Clinton inherited a recession and left in a recovery.

    • Jackie

      As a late/tail end Gen Xer, I agree with you when it comes to those born in the 60s. Two of my aunts were born in 1961 and 63 while my uncle was born in 1965 and I have little in common with them. I once had a 1 year relationship with a 65er and also have some acquaintances that were born in the late 60s but I think for the most part, those instances are more of an exception than the rule. I had a 6 year relationship with someone born in 1974 and my other friends were born in the mid 70s. On the other hand, I find it weird that I also couldn’t relate to those born in the 80s, even to most of fellow 80ers. I was born in early 1980 at the time when the whole world was still hanging on into the 70s (I was already alive before Carter’s failed rescue mission attempt, Pacman was introduced, Studio 54 closed down & Reagan won the Republican nomination. And I was nearly a year old when he won the 1980 Presidential election). Therefore I am older than most of the 1980 babies. My classmates were born in 1977-80 while I had a few born in 1981 and I got along more with the 70s babies classmates. For the 80s babies, I see them more as younger siblings than my equal. My earliest memories were in 1983-84 and began puberty in 1989.

      As for the late 80s-early 90s economic conditions, employer-employees contract and politics, yes we may not relate to it the same way early and core Gen Xers were. However that doesn’t mean we weren’t affected by it. Seeing how our parents, older siblings (n/a in my case since I’m the oldest) lost their jobs and suffered because of all these things were enough for our young minds to develop skepticism and distrust in authorities and institutions. Also as children of the 80s, we were products of latchkey parenting and were old enough to remember the changing social and political landscape (Berlin Wall, Challenger, fall of communism, collapse of USSR etc.) that also affected the way we view the world at large.

  14. Alpha_Furyan

    Quinn writes about the Fourth Turning very well…..has for years…

    I have written about it on my minds site…my avatar is Gen X huh? Our turn is at hand.

  15. David H.

    Really good article!

    I was born in 1981. I find it hard to relate to most of the millenials. I remember back when I was a child, those of us born in 1981 were referred to as gen X.

    In 1982, children born then we’re called gen Y. The name “millennial” wasn’t even a thing back then.

    I still believe I’m part of generation X. I relate more with the upbringing and experiences of this generation a lot more, so it only makes sense.

  16. Elle

    As a leading edge Gen X born in Dec ’63 I relate to it all especially being a latchkey child of divorce and an unfortunate victim of sexual abuse. nevertheless I feel my childhood was better than the kids of today even though that freedom came at a price. I want to add a few cultural touchstones before I conclude:

    We were the first generation to experience

    Sesame Street
    Video games
    Star Wars

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Elle. I loved Sesame Street. Still do. Ha! So many kids from our generation experienced sexual abuse. I know that pain. God bless you. The first-wave/leading-edge Xers have the power to change the world. Thank you for stopping by.

      • Anonymous

        How about shutting you’re damn mouth, mkay???

  17. JCG

    Really interesting analysis… I was born in the early 80’s so I am not technically a gen xer but I certainly relate more to the gen x mindset than gen z or millennial. I found this blog by happenstance and look forward to keeping up with it…

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, JCG!!

  18. Sabrina Chamberlain

    Your article is so amazing and spot on. I am coming to grips with living a lonely childhood which was perpetuated by familial abuses. I have a hard time leaving my kids alone until I get home- but alas we can’t get buy on one salary alone anymore- I have been very concerned about trying not to bubble wrap my children- but when I was an at home mother, I can say that I tried to do the things with my children that I wished I had the opportunity to do- without over scheduling! Hehe. I hope I didn’t steal their childhood away by trying to relive mine a bit with them!

    • Jennifer

      You didn’t steal their childhood. You ensured it. Thank you for your comment, Sabrina. May the Lord bless and keep you. I’m so glad you stopped by today and shared. It was a lonely childhood for an entire generation.

      • Daniel

        20 yr model doesn’t work: My dad 1946; Myself 1965; My son: 1984; My grandson 2003; My great grandson 2022. So whats going on with 1965 and Gen X? And how many people born in 1946 are about to meet their great grandson? Just because the pill arrived doesn’t mean the birth rate drop changed the generational timeline.

        25 yr model does work: My dad 1946; Myself 1971; My son 1997; My Grandson 2022; My great grandson 2047

        The 30 year model works perfectly probably because you are looking at my family: My Dad 1946 (Boomer); Myself 1976 (Millennial); My son 2006 (Gen Z); you can do the rest.

        I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but Gen X was never lost because it never existed in the first place. Please correct my logic here if I missed something.

        • Steve

          1976? Millennial? You’ve got to be kidding me.

          There’s no way someone who graduated from high school in 2000 or earlier (i.e. BEFORE the turn of the millennium) is a millennial. Thus, anybody from 1965-1982 is quite clearly Gen X. Millennials would then be people born from 1983 through about 2000 or so.

        • Robb

          My Dad:1956 – Boomer
          Me 1973 – Xer
          My Son 1992 – Millenial
          My Grandson 2011 Zoomer

          20 year model pretty solid.

          • Robb

            Also, not odd at all to have a great grand kid born when you’re 76. I knew my great grandma who died at age 90 when I was 12.

  19. Tim Rostro

    This was a great post and I’m glad to come across it. I am a proud Gen Xer but I have a few questions. I don’t have kids but do kids not go out on their bikes and explore like in the old days? I used to do that in the summer with friends, all day long and come back by the late afternoon. No supervision whatsoever, as long as we didn’t get in trouble. I remember during the winter, we would go to the canals, it would freeze over, and try to walk on them, until the cops told us to “get out of the ice.” We would collect aluminum cans for recycle to collect money. And made an adventure out of it.
    Someone had mentioned online that it’s illegal to ride in the back of a pickup anymore and that was surprise to me. No one really cared back in the day. We drank from the garden hose, no one cared. It seems that everything has been regulated to a point of having no fun anymore.
    Oh well, long live the 80s!

    • Jennifer

      Hi Tim! Thanks for stopping by. A lot has changed! LOL. Gen-Xers are the original hover-parent. It’s a response to the “under-protected” childhood we lived through, outside the watchful eye of adults. Sadly, all the protection we’ve tried to provide (the so-called “bubble-wrapping” of kids) has not thwarted the dangers they now face online.

      You described our childhood perfectly. I loved drinking out the garden hose! I probably got led poisoning. But, hey, I drank whole milk full of fat, so I was probably OK. LOL. Kids rarely ride their bikes alone and no matter when they ride they wear helmets. =)

      So many thing have changed. I think Gen-Xers have done a lot in communities and on the political front to make children safer. We let things get away from us, however, with online dangers. I read just yesterday that suicide among 10-14-year-olds has tripled in the last decade. So, kids can’t go outside, but they can go anywhere the Internet will take them. This is probably another generation’s nightmare to solve.

      Thank you, again, for stopping by, and for your great comment.

      • Rurh

        Hi, I am the end of boomers or beginning of X, since goal post seem to have some flexibility.
        We were Not unsupervised! Every parent on the block knew you and your parents. They could
        tell you off and would let your parents know if you were up to no good.

  20. Hintergrund

    As a fellow X-er, TY very much! You don’t happen to have read “The Fourth Turning” or “Generations” or “13th Gen” by Strauss/Howe?

    Two of their books are even online:

  21. Greg

    Hello Jennifer,

    Hope you don’t mind, but I cited this article in my blog. I find your writing inspiring and had to share with others. Hopefully I can send a few readers your way.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you so much, Greg. I really appreciate the shout-out. It means a lot. I’ve been keeping the blog going for more than 10 years. The backlinks improve my rankings so more people connect with and learn about their generation, Generation X. Thanks, again, and keep blogging!

    • Sandra Reagle

      Hello Jen,

      I saw this picture you had posted and wonder where you got it? It was a picture of school gym picture of 2 children climbing a rope in a presidential physical fitness test. I am 99% sure I am the girl climbing and would like to find out who has original?

      Thank you,

      • Jennifer

        Hi Sandra,
        That post was written in 2011. The source of the photos was the Neenah Historical Society. If it’s you, I’m so glad you are claiming it! It was posted on Flickr with the Creative Commons tag. Thank you!

  22. Marty McFly

    Strauss and Howe call our rising adult years ‘alienating’. Maybe that’s accurate, but I prefer to describe this time as cooly disconnected from a system that never really worked for us.

    So what happened? When the Boomers invented personal computers and web browsers, Gen X became the first cyberpunks and gamers.

    My grandkids will listen to thrilling stories about how I learned BASIC programming (now called ‘coding’) on TRS-80’s and Apple II’s with cassette storage. Not a floppy disk in sight!

    Ok, maybe not that thrilling. But at least I would read the latest issues of ‘Mondo 2000’.

    • Jennifer

      Basic programming is now called “coding.” LOL! Writing is also now called “content creation.” Bloggers are curators. Language evolves and so do we, I guess. Loved the comment, Marty McFly. Thanks for stopping by again!

  23. Maszinek

    I was born in 79. If anyone calls me a Xenial, God help them.

    • Jennifer

      LOL. I totally get it. That is so funny, though.

  24. Nelson Algren's Ghost

    Jennifer’s ability to structualize the interconnectedness of our Gen’X Dots, is remarkably superb. Every dart seems hit the bullseye. Thanks Jennifer for writing this blog.

    • Jennifer

      Nelson Algren’s Ghost – Thank you. Remarkably Superb is a first for me! =)

  25. MarieKat

    Great blog! Thanks for this. This explains my utter contempt with the herd mentality of today. I’m astonished that people blindly trust banks, religious organizations, government, big business, government schools, and politicians. I’m cynical, self employed and free-range. My mantra is “question everything.”

    I bemoan that my son will never know the freedom of riding his bike or skateboard to Blockbuster and picking out movies with friends. I wanted the freedom and I had it. My son, who is now 15, doesn’t seem to need freedom. He needs to be constantly entertained. I could entertain myself, thanks.

    • Jennifer

      Spoken as only a true Xer could. Thank you for stopping by. My kids feel freedom through iPhones. It makes me a little sad, but I bought them, and I suppose only have myself to blame. I rode wild through the neighborhood on a ten-speed all summer long. My mother never knew where I was or what I was doing. LOL.

    • F. Chavez

      I was just telling my kids, we had to play outside for hours with no personal tangibles at all….Chase, Hide N Seek, Green Light Red Light, Duck Duck Goose, Mother May I, this list goes on…And when we did have items to play with it was a Chinese Jump Rope, a Lemon Twist, A piece of Chalk to draw a Hopscotch Pattern on the sidewalk so we could play….And if we happened to get thirsty there was no Bottled or Filtered water, there was the good ole waterhose thats been in the sun all afternoon, ready to serve up hot water to quench our thirsts!! hahah…We turned out just fine and can appreciate it all. Especially when I find myself spending $75 for ONE video game or a Gift Card for a video Game…SMH

      • Jennifer

        I’m shaking my head, too. I HATE VIDEO GAMES! I loved reading your comment about all the fun things we did. There was always that one girl in the class who especially adept at drawing the hopscotch pattern. Ah, to play like a kid, again, right? I will also never forget the taste of that hottish water coming out of the hose. It had a metallic / rubber tang to it. Thanks for stopping by!

  26. iforme

    Generation x is impressive. Born between 1961 to 1981, 50 Millions strong
    and extremely prosperous. The questions is now retirement. Is their
    some keys to having income to last throughout retirement????

  27. Scott aka Scooter

    Ok, so this is really a great and thought provoking article and reply posts.

    My wife and I were latch-keys for sure.

    Nowadays we just love pulling out the 70’s/80’s movies regularly now like at Halloween, we “totally” watch the original Halloween while carving the pumpkin, toasting the seeds and whipping up a batch of Orville Redenbachers’s popcorn using (get this) a working, vintage Wear-Ever Popcorn Pumper air popper from 81′ I think, yellow&white with the metal butter tray on top! omg, the best. But even better was when Dad did the popcorn in that metal basket on a pole in the fireplace. Others like 16 Candles, Breakfast Club, and of course Ferris Bueller (we’re from Chicago, so it’s like our national anthem movie) are some we love now and then. Still laugh like hell watching the Blues Brothers… Of course Star Wars was kind of defining for our Gen, totally chick & dude movies, ET of course, and remember War Games with Matthew Broderick and the old dial up modem? haha… Jaws we watch at Christmas, the first 2 of them only.

    Hanging out with the neighbor hood kids in the late 70’s playing ghost-in-the-graveyard or hide and go seek etc. was the best, or just tooling around on the banana seat bike with the flag on the back, lol. We just had to be back by dark or there would be “hell to pay”. Used to love going to the 7/11 by the park and getting fire works, before they banned sales in Illinois. We guys would love strapping the plastic army guys to the bottle rockets and letting them fly, what a gas.

    Atari was the thing for sure, especially at the holidays, all the kids playing those, oh so addicting, simplistic games. The Simon says was always a big hit, never could figure the rubix cube, but that Operation game was killer… Always wanted a Hungry-hungry-Hipo game, never got one though. Oh and Leggo’s were huge but nothing topped the Star Wars toys, but those were pricy so we had to go to the rich kids house to play with those *chuckles*. My wife was into the Barbie’s and stuffed animals. Btw, what’s with 80’s chicks and stuffed animals, lol!

    My wife is a 71′ kid, she’s the real 80’s fanatic, like a veritable encyclopedia of info and seems to remember everything. One of those Duran Duran uber fans. She and her girlfriends would listen to the radio until one of their songs came on and go nutz, sing every word and try and tape it every time…

    Things seemed so much simpler then. For many of us it was good times (we didn’t have much money) but in the sense of great memories of summer, going in the friends parents Winnebago to some campsite or hitting the local swimming pools or that one road trip down to Disney World “never to be repeated again” so the parents said afterwards (I guess 25 hours with the family in that wood paneled station wagon, stopping at a couple motels with the coin operated vibrating bed’s was too much for them to be repeated).

    Anyways, great fun remembering some of those times.

    • Jennifer

      I wanted to thumb-up every sentence. Oh my goodness, this is one of the best comments I’ve received in 10 years of blogging about Generation X. Thanks for walking us all down memory lane. I loved the popcorn you put on the stove that had the big balloon of foil that inflated as the corn popped. Orville was bigtime when he hit the shelves. My mom loved him. And, popcorn. The vibrating motel beds always freaked me out. Even then, as a little kid. LOL. Thanks, Scooter!!

  28. Lionel

    For your consideration:

    Some of the links are interesting, but most lack understanding of the blunt force socioeconomic letdown that was/is Gen X’s fate. Bourree Lam’s offering, Generation Sellout, which attempts to compare economic prostitution for Xers and Millennials, encapsulates this vacant intersection. This lack of historical perspective and critical thinking is what genuinely scares me about *some* Millennials; it’s a joy and near-miracle that social democracy is making a comeback from the same cohort.

    I made it through about 20 minutes of Reality Bites before ejecting the “VHS tape.” Like The Breakfast Club, which was somewhat enjoyable as a teen, you had to suspend belief further than supportable – ‘this is life if you’re white, safe, pretentious, and not too poverty-stricken.’ Hard pass, as much as I still like all the major players. May I recommend Grosse Pointe Blank as a philosophically more accurate, if still Hollywood, take on Gen X?

    Thanks again, Jen! You raaaawwwwk hard!

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Lionel. Gross Pointe Blank is one of the movies on my list top 50 Gen-X movies. I agree – it’s very good. I was raised in poverty and understand the agony that so many are suffering through. Thank you for leaving a comment. Lately, there have been so many great Gen-X stories. Like we’re reaching a tipping point for once on coverage. Hey, we exist. LOL. Thank you for the link. I’ll share in the FB page. Have a great day!

  29. William Kneller

    Regarding “Cultural Touchstones of Generation X” that might be missing from your list…
    ~James Bond films (and their impact on young males)
    ~Dungeons & Dragons
    ~Pornographic magazines for Gen Xers were rare and hard to come by while growing up…whereas porn films were just a click away for the Millennials.
    ~Gen Xers are more open to living aboard…probably more than any other American generation that came before them.
    ~”Political Correctness” was born out of the Gen Xers not adopting the same prejudges that previous generations passed on to their kids.
    ~Many Gen Xers grew up “Republican” because of Reagan, then became “Democrats” because of Mr. Clinton, but are now swinging towards “Independents” after Mrs. Clinton….or is that just me?
    ~Gen Xers are the last generation to read newspapers.
    ~ Gen Xers were the last to use pagers and the first to use cell phones.
    ~Gen Xers grew up playing Pac-Man, which might be responsible for creating a generation of pill-poppers. It’s a good thing I sucked at video games!

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, William! There’s some great stuff on this list. I loved “Last to use pagers, first to use cell phones.”

      • William Kneller


        You wrote a very insightful article that really summed up our generation…it’s pros & cons. Like many, I thought I was the only one to go through so many of these experiences. Thank you for helping to define what it is to be a “Gen Xer”!

  30. Melissa

    Wow! Born in 1968, I can relate. My motto is “don’t fence me in!”. This makes sense now. Great articles. I am a restless soul at times and your blogs help me understand I am not alone.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Melissa. I felt less alone when I read Strauss and Howe. God bless you as you head into the holiday season.

  31. Brannon

    I was born in 1967. I feel for the most part, I had a great childhood, great teen years in the 80s and pretty good young adult years in the late 80s and 90s. Was it all a bed of roses, of course not, but as a whole, I am not complaining. I remember the freedom I had as a kid, playing outside, playing in the woods, riding my bicycle(which I rode it until it fell apart) all over the neighborhood. I played outside until dark most days, especially Saturdays. I remember a time with no cell phones, thus no texting, etc. If you wanted to talk to someone, you either called them, or got on your bicycle and rode to their house. I, like many in my generation, lived for Saturday morning tv. I as a Gen Xer have no problem with the Baby Boomers, so I resent Ernie calling all of us names. That’s not fair. A few bad apples has to spoil it all for us I guess. Anyway, great article Jennifer.

    • Richard Avery

      I relate. No it was not all a bowl of cherries. But it was not h*)) on earth like certain pundits like to put it. The individual freedom was amazing. No cell phones to bother you. The first PCs were so archaic compared to today. But since there was nothing like it before their emergence was earth shattering for the times. And, agreed that I have nothing against the Boomers, Millennials or any generation. We are all people on this blue planet.

  32. Andie

    I was born in 1976 and don’t identify at all with the standard stereotype of Generation X. I can’t remember the Cold War or the 1980s beyond toys and Disney Films. Politics or adult pop culture did not interest me as a child at all and anything in that regard feels hazy and surreal to me. I didn’t watch John Hughes films until I was in my 20s and 30s and I don’t really get them, to be honest.
    Additionally, I was not a latchkey kid and the experiences my friends and I had completely differ from the standard stereotype. My parents were afraid of child killers and crime – I was never allowed to be unsupervised away from our property without an adult. The friends I had where both parents worked would go home with those that had an adult present. Children who were unsupervised were considered questionable, possibly from unstable homes.
    I was also exposed to the internet in my teens and never had to think about adult life without it. I recall some of the old technology, like my Jem and the Holograms tapes, VCRs and Walkmans, but at this point, it’s synonymous with childhood, toys and He-Man cartoons.
    My highest level of identification to other birth years tends to range from 1974 to 1989ish. Anyone born before this time frame has too much investment in the 1980s to make much sense to me on a nostalgic level. All we have in common as youths is ….. grunge? And Kurt Cobain died just before I started going to concerts. Politically the post 9/11 environment is much closer to home for me than the Cold War, since the main theme Middle East has been around since the start of my youth in the early 90s.
    One of the reasons Generation X is such a difficult concept to sell is because of the stark differences between both halves of the spectrum. If you can even call it halves. Some definitions leave Gen X with only 17 years, 3 years shy of the usual 20 year interval.
    When younger Gen Xers are proud of being Generation X, they aren’t mentally including anyone born in 1965 or 1970 except Kurt Cobain – many of the post ’75 Xers are in it for the ’90s culture, happy to have been part (even if just as a distant fan) of the grunge era. But they are forgetting the whole previous chapter on ’80s pop culture, including an entirely different political era. Vague childhood memories aside, you cannot compare the way a 16 year old would have processed the year 1985 to the way a 9 year old did, regardless of how much mommy, daddy or big sibling tried to teach them.
    Ordinarily it wouldn’t be such a big deal, certainly not cause for a generational divide, IF things had stayed the same in the ’90s. But they didn’t. My youth in 1995 was nothing like youth in 1985, technologically, politically or culturally.
    I personally feel alienated by the fact that most of the ’80s born kids, the very kids that are more like me than anyone born in 1966, have been cut from the list.
    As a result, I resent the fact that Generation X stereotypes are more geared towards people born in the ’60s or early ’70s than to us. It is like someone is trying to turn us into someone we are not. I have the feeling that late ’50s – 1973ish is more like a generation than we are. They were all too young for the Vietnam War/hippy era, often had hippy parents and experienced some stage of their youth in the ’80s. At most gatherings, this is the demographic that I see sharing the same “remember whens” – the rest of us just sit there, shrug and say “grunge”? and realize how unimportant it actually is for defining a generation.

    • Mike


      I think you and the younger Gen X folks that you talk about are actually Xennials.

      From Wikipedia,
      Xennials (also known as the Oregon Trail Generation and Generation Catalano) are the micro-generation of people on the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial demographic cohorts, typically born between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Xennials are described as having had an analog childhood and digital adulthood.

      I was born in 68, My wife in 79 and my sister in law who used to live with us was born in 86. Living with a Xennial wife, I can see the difference for sure, but nothing like the differences that we both have with my millennial sister in law.

      I run a blog that is all about media from the Gen X era. I list 76 as the cutoff year for Gen X births. It’s a transition year, so some folks born that year might lean towards X, and others like you don’t.

      • Andie

        I totally identify with the Xennial label- now if only they would include 1976! As the oldest child, I was left to my own resources when it came to experiences, so I am not influenced by the culture and perceptions of older siblings or friends that would classify as real Gen X. 1976 I feel is a year that largely depends on elder influences to feel truly Gen X. Our real time experiences are more aligned with those born in the mid 70s up until the mid 80s, as we are all a very transitional group of people. I find the differences I feel between early 90s born people to myself to be as stark as they are to 60s born people, the main difference being that I did actually lived through the 90s and 00s (those were the most formative of my years as a youth and young adult), but have no concept of what life was like for children and teenagers in the 60s and 70s, can’t fathom being a youth in the 80s. I can’t fake that or try to put myself in their shoes, because I have nothing to draw on.
        I think Xennial pretty much hits the nail on the head. That would be me.

        • Richard Avery

          Agreed in part. You are still a Gen Xer. But there are two halves of our generation IMHO. The old guard born from early 60’s to about end of Nixon’s first term. And then folks born from Watergate – Nixon’s Second term to the end of Carter Administration from a historical analogy. You are the second cohort and right on the edge of the Xennials (folks born from late 70’s to about ’83 or ’84).

          The late 70’s to early 80’s is the main differentiation point. If you are old enough to truly remember and get the 70’s and early 80’s you are a first waver Gen Xer all the way. I was born 1970. I find that I have more in common with folks born as early as 1960-61, 1965 or 1967 for example then someone your age or born 1978-1981. Folks my age were all about the 80’s as far as the decade they identify the most with. T

          To yours truly years and many folks the same age 1978 – 1988 were the good ol’ days from being old enough to know the world around me up to coming of age and graduating HS. Early 90’s was going out into the real world after my education was completed and was a totally different experience than someone in HS at the time.

          So instead of focusing on 90’s TV shows and music as part of nostalgia I would notice other things. If any one noticed Daisy Duke’s jeans, knew all the characters on Cheers, preferred the Cosby show over Family Ties or Growing Pains, had a Kiss, Star Wars and 6 Million Door man lunch box in fourth grade, had a girl friend who knew the lyrics to Sister Christian or had a girlfriend who had a Duran Duran or Rick Springfield poster on her bedroom wall while you had one of Joan Jett, Farah Facett, Lita Ford and later on Heather Locklear then they are in my tribe:). But I am not in anyone’s tribe who actually wore flannel to HS, listened to all of Rage Against the Machine, Tupac and Snoop Dog, actually said bodacious but did not use slang like spaz, space cadet or gag me with a spoon, used dial up internet in HS or even had a PC of their own while in school, identify with Clueless and American Pie instead of Breakfast Club, Heathers or Fast Times at Ridgemont High and thinks of Chelsea Clinton instead of Amy Carter as the original first daughter of the nation:)>

          • Jennifer

            The last paragraph is gold. Love it. Especially the references to lunch boxes and posters. Lita Ford is not a name I hear very often. Good reminder! Thank you for your comment.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for your comment, Martin. It’s post worth, and I would like to publish it was such. It deserves a broader reach than just the comment section.

      The study you suggested would be a fascinating one. I have never considered such a comparison — Xers from countries involved in World Wars and those not. I wonder if anything has been written on this top already.

      It’s interesting to me that we talk so much about the global economy and the global village and how these things impact Millennials in terms of reaching across oceans to develop connections and relationships. But, as the world shrinks, I’m starting to see a broader narrative of Generation X coming into view. We all have so much in common — whether in Austria or the United States. It really underscores generational theory as put forth by Strauss and Howe and the Fourth Turning. If you have not read that book or 13th Gen by the same authors, you might enjoy it.

      Thank you for stopping by. I will repost your comment as a post later today. I enjoyed reading it so much.

      • Martin Lindholm

        Hi! Thanks for the reply. I’ll certainly look into those books. And thanks for sharing my thoughts, it’s a mighty strange experience to read my thoughts on a blog, but I feel honoured by your interest in them. Take care!

        • Andy

          Great post, and a fine addition to the amazing conversation that Jen has conducted on these pages. Hats off to you all.
          Your post has got me thinking, you know what maybe all along the Boomers werent neglecting us Xers…but instead, having gone through the post war era, and, like you said, focusing on the here and now, maybe it was a case that they, urged on by their war-haunted silent/greatest parents, (our grandparents) were simply letting us be, the baby Xers, a generation born into peace and prosperity… let them be kids, let them play out all day long, leave them to explore this safe prosperous world that we never had… maybe that was the thinking, maybe we had it lucky after all…

  33. Elmore

    I’m sick and tired of you American Gen Xer morons blaming the Boomers for ruining the world. You fools didn’t live in the early 1960’s so you don’t have a clue what it was like. Because of Boomer protests, to end the draft, you fools never knew the fear of being drafted and sent to fight in a war halfway around the world to support the Military Industrial Complex. At eighteen years of age your biggest decision was what brand of beer are you going to take to the beach? Ours was what branch of the service do you want join and die with? So instead of thanking us you hate us.

    So why does Generation X hate boomers? The answer is simple, it’s because Tom Brokaw didn’t write a book about your generation. Brokaw’s first book (The Great Ass Generation) was a fictional story about how the USA won WW2. Anybody with a brain, and some knowledge of real history, knows that the USSR won WW2. They defeated Nazi Germany and Japan surrendered when the USSR declared war on them in1945. For every 10 Germans killed, 8 were killed on the Eastern front by the Soviets. Because of the cold war all we ever heard, in this country, was about the D-day invasion. During the cold war you didn’t hear about the 1941 successful defense of Moscow, the victory at Stalingrad, the battle of Kursh and the defeat of Berlin to name a few. If you want real history then read something written by Howard Zinn not that Jackass Brokaw

    Brokaw’s second book BOOM was about the Boomers and social change in the 1960’s. Brokaw didn’t know what it was like to be a Boomer because he was too young for Korea and a bit too old for Vietnam so his eighteenth birthday wasn’t a death sentence. Maybe Brokaw needs to write a book about Generation X and then your generation won’t hate Boomers anymore. I have a great Title suggestion: Generation X the story of the tattoo infested, pierced scumbags who are stupid, clueless and somewhat IQ less.

    • Jennifer

      I think you deserve to be heard and I’m glad to give you that space on this blog. Having worked for the government my entire career and served under many Vietnam veterans, I agree with you. Gen-Xers never, ever knew the pain of the draft, getting killed in Southeast Asia – or having your buddies killed. I have always tempered my own criticism of Boomers by the realities of Vietnam as portrayed in books and movies. On a personal note, friend, what your generation did in Vietnam built little Saigons all across America. We have one right here in OKC. They finally raised enough money to fund military park and a statue of American soldiers saving them that fateful day in 1974. What our boys did was heroic. My kids go to school with second generation Vietnamese. They are the grandkids of the people you saved. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I could say more in defense of my generation, but that is for another day. The impact of Vietnam on the Boomer psyche was significant. How could anyone ever get over that war? Love and Peace, jennifer

      Also, please follow this link:

      • Lionel

        Late reply: thanks, Jennifer, for having this page. As for why Generation X hates Baby Boomers, it should be obvious. So many of the powerful advantages that Boomers enjoyed that were all too clear in Gen X’s rearview, such as:
        – free or low-cost college education
        – jobs and housing readily available
        – a thriving economy
        – generous (available!) retirement
        – a government that sported at least some policies supportive of average people
        – a media and culture that catered to your whims (you can keep disco, tho)
        These came into sharper focus only after I met some of the Boomers’ elder siblings, many of whom are just as bitterly-disgusted and resentful. Let’s review Boomer characteristics: Spoiled? Check. Narcissistic? Check. Clueless? Check. Wealthy? Check. Often lazy and conniving? Check. Overpopulated? Check.

        Even the various progressive political gains of the Boomers, which were considerable, started to fall to counterattack by the mid-80’s, thanks to things like single-issue voting and the typical conservative pull of middle age. Fast forward to a brief four decades from the Boomers’ heyday and America is a wasteland. Who do you think voted for increasingly right-wing politicians and approved of resulting policies? The Boomers who became president are among the most casually cannibalistic of that already-suspect breed.

        But since I’m a firm believer in not throwing out the Boomer with the bathwater, a clear way forward is accountability on these issues – an admission of mistakes, the better to inform Millennials since Gen X doesn’t swing the same demographic weight to fix these problems. However, I won’t be holding my breath.

        The silver lining is that, given the sociopolitical and environmental catastrophe now in the works, courtesy of the most privileged generation not only in American, but arguably world history, we get to watch you die first. Sleep tight. : )

        • Jennifer

          Oh, my. I have never seen the boomer deathclock until now. Makes me a little sad. I mean, I understand all the historical events and realities you site, but I do have very good Boomer friends. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your comment. This post is an open forum and I don’t want to discourage conversation by deleting comments. I think you are right – they have been the most privileged generation in the world.

          • Lionel

            Your comment reminds me that, as this awareness developed over many years, there have been Baby Boomer friends off of whom I bounced these observations, albeit less sharply; call it demographic fact-checking. Every single one of them admitted being troubled that yes, their cohort was loaded with what I’ve described. Even a pimp like the late Dennis Hof (Cathouse on HBO) said that his favorite customers are Baby Boomers: lots of money, hedonistic, cavalier. Def not worried about rent, student loan payments, or dying from preventable illness.

            You can file my comments under “Wiser but Sadder.” It doesn’t have to be this way and it’s why AOC and a progressive breakout are so welcome.

            [Did you consider deleting that? I’ve never had a comment deleted, even once! lol OK, I’m out.]

          • Jennifer

            I don’t delete comments unless they are perverse or venomous toward me, personally. =) “Wiser But Sadder” is a truism. I just read an article – the one about Gen-X women in midlife crisis – that says our happiness plummets in our 40s and 50s, but we’re less sad after that. Life is hard, Lionel. Take care and come back often!

        • Missy

          This is so wrong – every single point is wrong.
          – there was no “free or low cost” college.
          – there were no jobs and low cost housing readily available
          – there was not a thriving economy
          – no generous or available retirement
          – no government support for the average or below average person
          – the media? What a joke. More like brainwashing.
          I grew up with all the thing mentioned. I left college with $20k in loans and a $13k income. I had ~$500/month loan repayments and ~$500/month rent for a studio apartment. There was no 10% of income, hardship or deference on the student loan. In addition to commuting and working a full time job, I got a night job. It was the worst economy in history with 17% interest rates and high unemployment. My retirement was 0. There was no pensions or 401k matching. I ended up getting married, had 2 kids and later a child outside of marriage. On an income of $26k, not only did I get zero assistance but they taxed me $13k because I was self-employed. I worked hard, finished up my degree with zero government assistance and graduated Summa Cum Laude in Mathematics only to have my career ruined by H1-B visas. I continued to work hard doing everything right only to have all my home equity wiped out by the housing crash of 2008. So told tell me about what a victim you are or how extra special the boomers had it. Eye roll.

    • Degeneration X

      Hey, I’m Gen X and I really like Boomers. You had the best music, after all. I could listen to The Doors all day long. Regarding excessive tats & piercings, dude, that’s not us, that’s millennials.

  34. Galaxy

    This comment was republished as a blog post with photos. Click here to read it.

    Hello Everyone/ Jennifer,

    I’m X-Gener born in 77 and recently got interested in all this Boomers/Gen-X/Millenials topic, probably reflecting on my past, as myself and my friends are all in early-mid 40ties and we often discuss among the “how to get a mortgage” the topics of relationship with parents (aka Boomers) and young people at workplace (aka Millenials).

    What surprised me was the founding that the term “latchkey generation” is widely applicable to me and my friends! But I’m from USSR, immigrated to Europe short after leaving the college and my friends are in similar positions from different countries of Europe! The Soviet childhood and Boomer parents seems to be not much different from US childhood and parents these days, from what I read! Personally, I consider myself lucky to have grandparents waiting me in the house after school, but I still wore a key on the latch on my neck and so all my school friends (majority of them were not lucky to have grandparents waiting them at home).

    Now myself and my friends are reflecting on our childhoods, we find a lot of similarities. Let me see if you or other readers will find similarities with their X-gen childhood:

    – You would be totally responsible to go to school in the morning and being at home by X o’clock to answer the “control phone call”. If any problem occurred in between ( you got stopped/beaten by bad guys asking money from you, you missed the bus to school, you forgot you homework etc etc) – it would be *your* problem and all “help” you could possible get from your parents would be either some generic advice (“you need to stand up and defend yourself”) or some kick in the a** (“next time you forget your homework, Im going to …”). But no actual help. No parents would consider to go walk me to school, take care of bullies, or move me to school closer to the house.

    – Later, when you turned 12-13 you would suppose to cook dinner for the whole family and clean the house. If you had younger brothers/sisters you would have to take full care of them too. Until parents will come back (usually 7-8pm). There was no Internet to ask and majority of houses had a gas cookers.

    – You would have to go to afterschool activities all by yourself. Your parents would not care if you like it or not, if they decided that you need to take piano lessons 3 times a week at another end of your town, you had to go there and take them. And be bloody successful, otherwise.. My wife in her 10 had to go to violin classes in the dark and snow (imagine Siberia winter?) to another end of the city, but in fact what she wanted was art classes or dance. Nobody asked as what we wanted to do. If we wanted to do something we either had to do it secretly (for example, my friend was sneaking to karate classes secretly in hope someday to take care of the bullies, after his piano lessons, for the money he was saving from lunches.. typical..)

    – If there is any competition on anything – you had to participate and win. Otherwise…

    – We was restricted on everything. You want ice-cream? Did you deserved it? Show me your school diary first? Do you know that you only can have ice creams on Saturdays? (and the ice cream cost was equivalent of 20 cent today.. can you explain it?) The biggest dream of a teenager was to have a bicycle. Then later on – Walkman. Later on – TV video game. But majority of us worked its own money to buy Walkman and TV video game. In terms of the bicycle and other toys – it was easier to build your own toy and/or bicycle from old junk than beg your parents to buy it. My school friend, who became HW engineer later, built his own ZX Spectrum, when he was 13-14! .. It was easier, because the answer to anything was “we have no money” or “you cant have that”. No explanation.

    – We was on the street majority of the time. Street defined everything. Only real achievements matter. You could not bu**it everyone by saying that you are boxing champion, dance master or great singer. Show it. Prove it. Can’t play Scorpions hit on the guitar? Sorry, no women for you bro 😉 But if you do so, you deserve respect. If you just blahblah – no one will ever talk or play or mingle with you again (or you even can be beaten). There was a term for this “to be able to prove your words” (should be English equivalent to this?). Think that resulted very little number of bul***ters, liars and “trumpeters” in our generation. Ever. If I say I do it – I do it. I won’t write 1000 words blog post about it or tell everyone how great I am. I just do it. Same goes for my friends and people of my generation.

    To summarize on the X-gen childhood – I must admit that our parents, Boomers, was *the worst* parents you would ever imagine. Yes, I can “prove for my words” (see above). Our parents gave very little direction to us. After all these years (as I have 2 children myself) I can acknowledge that. Our parents were selfish, thinking only about there ambition, didn’t wanted us and didn’t loved us. F**ng narcissists, hoping to fulfill their dreams by using us. And now, they pretend do not understand why we hate them as we grow older in the 40ties. In the cheap Soviet society (I cant answer for US, sorry guys), they would not have to pay for any single thing that we have to pay for now as X-geners. Childcare – free, medicine – free, schools – free. All the afterschool classes – costs very little (10-20 euro/month modern equivalent) ! All that they have to do in their life is go to work, pretend they work and go back home. Many of them even got houses “for free” from government. And still, yet, they would rather die that spend another 20cent on ice cream if it would be not on Saturday or force their children into something they hated, just to boost their ego. All the free time and money they had they spent on themselves. As example, my friends parents moved from three-bed into one-bed house (but in a better location) and she had to sleep in the kitchen from 13yo till she finished school. There was no room for her. She recently found out that her parents had, in fact, huge savings on bank account after selling that 3 bed bed house.

    Now as X-gener, I had to work hard all those years I can remember, pay for every little and not little thing (childcare, school, afterschool classes, medicine), still many of us in mid 40ties do not own a house or have a job in senior management (thanks to Boomers). Honestly, I feel quite tired and exhausted from that life race, as me my friends, and my wife had actually very little time dedicated to ourselves in our lifes. Priority of taking care of others and self-sacrifice is the main thing of our generation. On one hand we had to take care of Boomers as they old now (and you have to take care of old people, aren’t you?) and then Millenials as they are still bunch of narcissistic infantils. Will this ever over?

    I feel that our generation has been cheated and robbed. In fact, I find very little commonalities with my parents and Millenials. Its like all our purpose is to be a servants on their party. Strangely enough, I found a lot in common with G.I. generation, aka my grandparents. To whom I speak, tell me about good connection with grandpa/grandma too. They were always there to listen and help if they could. At least for my case. They also had a robbed childhood because of war and had a time and patience to tell and teach us anything.

    To summarize – I’m very happy to find out that I’m not alone in my reflections. Yes, we, X-geners, may be little in numbers, but we can stand for ourselves. As the Boomers fading out every day, think we have a great chance and opportunity to fix the mess that they left. Who else if not us? We got used to clean up messes, aren’t we? 🙂 And, most important, to make sure that our children will never be “latchkey” generation.

    • Jennifer

      I wish I understood history better so I could speak more intelligently to your comment. It is fascinating and warmly received. Thank you for taking the time to write it all down and share. I would like to publish the comment as a blog post so others can receive it more readily than they will in this section of the blog. So many things you’ve written here mirror the Gen X experience in the U.S. During those year of growing up in the Cold War, I thought a lot about all of you. The Russians, our enemies. I never felt like any child my age anywhere was my enemy. I somehow felt we were all in this together, and now with globalism and the Global village I wasn’t far off the mark, although who knows if that economic system will ever work and isn’t completely utopic.

      Anyway, look for your comment to appear in a blog post. I have collected as many pictures of Russian children from the Gen X childhood years as I could find. I will intersperse some of them among your comments. I hope it’s OK.

      And, we are not alone. Chloe, a guest poster and friend, just wrote about that in a recent post this month. Your comment makes me feel less alone. God bless you and yours.

  35. Workhorse

    X’ers can be the next great generation. We see beyond ourselves. We can mold our children into patriots, we can help our fellow man volunteering, we effect change with our honest interpretations of institutions. Some call us cynical, I think of myself as more of a critical thinker. No face value always questioning motivations, taking people’s words with a grain of salt and seeing people only by the content of their character or their actions. We are smart and not easily fooled by globalist new world order propaganda and expect integrity from those around us. We are self reliant and are irritated by institutions trying to control people’s lives. We embrace freedom, and spurn selfishness. As a Gen Xer I am a veteran, a volunteer Fire fighter, a law enforcement officer a business man and a father. I am a force of nature, Hell on wheels. A warrior for my ideals. Can’t think of a better combination of traits. The world needs to see how great we are even if just those around us that each of us know.

    • Jennifer

      I love your spirit and this is a beautiful declaration. I do hope I can mold my children into patriots. I loved that part. Also, “globalist news world order propaganda.” Phooey on that, right! Hats off for your work as a volunteer firefighter. I have some peripheral involvement with the need to recruit more rural volunteer firefighters. We’re losing a generation of them, I understand, as the Millennials are not signing up to participate. Any thoughts on that, Workhorse?

      • Brandy

        Workhorse, Gen X grew up in a certain fashion, so to speak, we all knew it no one ever spoke of it or ever will, and that there is why Gen X will never be known. You defiantly have the right outlet in mind. Just do it.

      • Degeneration X

        Of course millennials aren’t singing up, they’re too lazy and would never do anything for free. Volunteering? What’s that? LOL Keep in mind that this is the same generation that feels entitled to a “living wage” for flipping burgers at McDonalds.

  36. Jon

    I’m a UK Gen X’er and a latchkey kid. But I don’t know how typical of my generation I am.

    I’m 47 now (born in 1970).

    I work, and I work bloody hard, but I never miss an opportunity to slack off whereas my older and younger colleagues keep ploughing on. They get no more recognition than me. So what’s the point? At 5 pm I’m gone in a cloud of dust and I don’t think about work until 9 am tomorrow. Or Monday. Yet again older and younger colleagues never seem to switch off. I’m definitely of the work to live school of thought.
    I was bought up on Atari, Nintendo and MTV. I was more interested in TV than homework and the thing I find mind boggling now is that in summer holidays we, my friends and I, would leave home on our pushbikes at 9am and not go home until 6pm for our tea. No one knew where we were or what trouble we were getting into. No one was at home anyway as the olds were working! Now your phone knows exactly where you are all the time and through the joy of social media everyone else knows where you are as well. I wouldn’t want to be a child today. I like the fact I lived in the past and am now enjoying the future.
    But at 47, divorced, with 3 children (who I used to overparent but now let them do their own thing and make their own paths whether right or wrong) I still feel a bit lost.
    My parents were successful and always worked and I was pretty much left to my own devices. I bumbled through my teens and made stupid and rash decisions in my early 20’s. And I seem to have just stuck there ever since. I’ll never own my home, afford a brand new car or get married again, I’ll probably never bother with another relationship as I’m too selfish with my time. I have enough money to get by, compared to my baby boomer parents who are comfortably wealthy, and don’t feel jealous of their situation or am waiting on an inheritance, but it’s only now they can finally tell me they’re proud of me because I think they realised I’ve peaked.
    I haven’t peaked at work or financially (that’ll never happen, not enough drive) but I’ve peaked in the fact that I’ve learned to live with myself and am happy living in my shell.

    Do I miss the 70’s and 80’s? Yes. Terribly. But I can relive them through the magic of YouTube. So it’s not all bad.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. I enjoyed reading it – twice! Especially pushbikes and “home until 6 pm for our tea.” I love to hear from Gen-Xers who grew up across the pond and realize their experiences were much like my own. Godspeed to you. I miss the 80s, too. And, the 70s, when my sisters were tan and young and beautiful – wearing bikinis on the beach. It all went by so fast and you know, I’m starting to forget the good stuff. Thank you for stopping by.

      • Jon

        I like to tell stories, they’re an important part of our culture. I work mainly in care homes which specialise in dementia and brain damage. Most of my “people” are in their 70’s and up (one lady I see has just tipped 100!) and they usually have no family which is where I come in. I always say it’s like having loads of grand parents. I love their stories, most of them won the second world war single handed, and find it a crying shame that once they’re gone their stories will disappear with them. I pass these stories, and mine, onto my kids and my parents are always telling my kids stories which they love. I think they like the ones where I was getting up to some mischief or other. Dad wasn’t always “old” and did have a childhood too.
        I recently read an article on how Gen X men are dying in their droves but I can’t remember the reason now or where I read it. But I do empathise with them/us. I had 3 failed suicide attempts over the years (never managed to get that right!) and I could have quite easily been part of that statistic. I’m glad I’m not. As I said earlier it’s more about realising your faults and weaknesses and overcoming them somehow. I am who I am. I’m not going to change now and I don’t want to. It’s finding the balance whichever way it swings. I like my “averageness” verging on bone idle (lol) and my upbringing has a lot to do with it. Nature over nurture, a bit of both.
        I do think my millennial kids are missing out as all most of them do is sit in front of a screen of some description.

        Sorry, I’ve gone a bit off topic…

        • Jennifer

          There was a study done in 2015 about Gen X men dying at an alarming rate. I blogged about it here: I’ve lost some dear friends to the battle…

          Well, I’m so thankful you failed to take your own life, because it now seems you have been given a rare opportunity to not only care take people in their elder years, but to care-take their stories. Maybe you could write them down. They’d make quite a journal. All these firsthand accounts are dying. The same can be said of all generations, I suppose.

          In all my years of blogging, reading, writing, etc., I’ve never come across anyone who admits to their “averageness” like you. There is a hint of sadness and humor in it, but it is also not average to admit you are only average and so you see, in your honesty you are exceptional! =) I’m average, too, Jon. Painfully so.

  37. Keri

    I have found the best description of our generation to be those born betweeb 1963/64 and graduated high school before 9/11….so I guess 1982/83? That seems to make sense to me. My husband has more in common with me (he WAS born in ’82 and I, ’75) and close friends my age (’74-’78)than his sister who was born in 1990. Great article.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Keri! I like those boundaries/parameters very much — especially the bookend of 9/11.


    Late 1962 “Atari” Xer here. Parents were Silents who wished they’d been born a few years later – wanna be Boomers. That minor detail did not stop them. Early childhood memories of grown ups late at night laughing in the living room, guitars strumming, the smell of weed. All of that had its pluses and minuses. My folks were very good about exposing us to science, cultural awareness, the color blind PoV, etc. Nonetheless, they were dual income from the time I could watch my brother. Yes, I had a key I wore on home made necklace. So far, outcome is decent but unless I win the lottery or end up going through a late career IPO, it’s now becoming nearly mathematically impossible for me to outdo my parents on the financial front. Knock on wood no major health issues approaching the double nickel.

    • Jennifer

      The double nickel! My dad, a Silent, always said that. LOL. I loved reading your brief history. Did you keep the homemade latchkey necklace. A cultural treasure for all of Gen Xers! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note.

  39. Margo

    I would love an updated list of all of the COOL things Gen X is responsible for. You mentioned Google, Twitter, and Amazon (cool, but we really hate them now, don’t we?).

    • Jennifer

      Great observation. I think I actually do hate them all. =/

  40. Vic

    What do you think about the xennials?

  41. Stephanie Perry

    Why these years range so weird?
    This is what I think
    WWII Generation: 1901-1924
    Silent Generation: 1925- 1944
    Baby boomers: 1944 or 1945-1964
    Gen X: 1964- 1986 ( Gen Xa: 1964-1975 Gen Xb: 1976-1986)
    GenY/Millennials: 1987-2007
    GenZ: 2008-

    • Keri

      Wow….1986? Honestly, while I don’t really think someone born in the mid 80’s is an X’er, I definitely can say that older millennials arw WAY more chill than younger millennials and have more to share with younger Xers lol!

  42. Falkon

    Wow. Awesome article Jennifer. I’m Jan 73 but with parents born in the early 1930’s, mom had me at 40, an only. I identify with the Great Generation and was largely tutored by my grandmother born in 1906, the only one I knew, the others were born in the 1880’s and died just before I was born. So there are some of us that don’t relate to Boomer’s or Xgen at all and have the ethics/morals of our grandparents born well before WWI and highly influenced by the Great Depression. Heck, one of my great grandfathers fought in the Civil War. I only understand do or don’t do and you will be judged.

    So, I look on all this nonsense as just that, nonsense and have a very different perspective most now don’t understand, especially the Boomers, simply put, that of utter frivolity and lack of ethical and moral fiber. Very frankly, I don’t think this world will see another generation beyond GenZ. The complete breakdown in what is right and what is wrong is overwhelming. I fear a very violent end to all this, it’s happened with empires throughout the ages over and over, but this time it’s really the end. Hope I’m dead when it happens, but I don’t think so. Folk of my ilk don’t give a flying crap about “feelings” or any other pansy whim of the current age or what somebody’s “opinion is”, we don’t have a problem being “racist” for a good reason, we hate abrasive “cultures” and have no problem saying “Nuke the hell out of them, better yet carpet bomb them to extermination”. We think LGBT need to be outlawed, executed and expunged from the history of humankind for the vast evil they have recently been allowed to do to humankind. We are Nationalists that are resurging and will end up probably ending this world. Good riddance. I am from the GenX who didn’t have kids on purpose, but now we run everything and realize it’s all too late to fix it and it’s all coming to an end quite soon. That’s why GenX was really called that, it’s not a ohh to the future, it’s an ohh this is the end, Xgen like me are, in fact, running things now and we’ve had it. We will fix it or burn it, get ready for the fight.

    I realize this is harsh, but it is, right now. I miss the days of “Happy Days” and “The Brady Bunch” and “Leave it to Beaver”, what happened to decent and normal and deterrence of lawbreakers, called public hangings?

    Wait and see.

    The Falkon.

    • Julie

      Wow. Glad that you admit that you’re nothing like the typical Gen Xer because that all sounds quite awful.

      • Brandy

        Actually Gen X was only twenty year of age when they got the prison systems to quietly allow for voluntary euthanasia. Unfortunately the Baby Boomers took offices and jobs and ended it all. Claiming they were Christians. Not everyone is and I feel it was a violation of their civil rights. In fact I would venture the guess, NONE of the prison system is Christian. Moral of the story, don;t name your kid obama.

  43. AB

    I was born in 1967. This article hits the nail on the head. What I like is that it gives reasons for our behavior. I had two parents, but did not see them from 6:30am until 6pm. Growing up in Texas, I can remember shooting bb guns in the neighborhood at 7 years old. Riding bikes all over town alone. Hunting alone at 12. Leaving campus in Junior High to by snuff and cigarettes. I don’t remember school shootings, but I remember guns in the gun racks of pickups in the high school parking lot. I don’t know how I got to 18 without having kids or ending up dead.

    I think generations alternate. My dad served in WWII. He and my mother grew up in the Great Depression. They had a big sense of hard work. My older sister was a baby boomer who was out of the house by the time I was 4. On one hand, I saw a nose to the grindstone attitude and on the other an entitled attitude. It seems the Greatest Generation wanted to protect the boomers from the evil they saw, and the Boomers wanted to be part of the collective and discounted those “old people.” Gen x was left to themselves and seem to more closely resemble the Greatest Generation with a FIERCE independence. Millennials seem to want collectivism again. That being said, I think they all want the same things, they just differ on how to get there.

    I know today I struggle with over protecting my kids and letting them make their own mistakes. I want them to be independent. Not lemmings. I think that is one thing that bothered me about the baby boomers. They fought “the man” for the sake of fighting “the man.” I guess rebellion for rebellion’s sake. I would like to think I put more thought into it. I am fiercely independent. But, I try to justify it with reason. Well, that sounded preachy.

    Anyway, it’s been since high school since I felt this kind of empathy. Thanks for the article!

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. I read every word with great interest. I have not met many Xers born in 1967 with parents who fought in WW II. That is very rare. Most of us have Silent or Boomer parents. I, too, remember, kids sneaking off in junior high to buy cigarettes and all the boys had the Skoal ring fade on their back pockets. I also remember the gun racks in pickups. Guns on campuses. Who knew?

      I’m glad you felt some catharsis reading the article. We have come a long way, and hopefully have a couple more decades of good life to live. Bless you on the journey, and I hope you’ll visit again.

    • Matt

      I here you! I was also born in 1967 and my dad was in WWII. He was born in 1925 and was in the South Pacific during the last two years of the war and another year after it was over. My grandparents were also born in the 1800’s. I only knew one of them but it gave me a somewhat different perspective on some things than others whose parents were younger but for the most part I also fit the Gen X’er mold very well. Def Leopard and REO Speedwagon are coming to town. So guess where I’ll be.

      • Jennifer

        Hey Matt – Heard it from a friend, who, heard it from a friend, who, heard it from another you’ve been messing around. Enjoy REO Speedwagon. I’m jealous. =) My paternal grandparents were born in 1881 and 1898. Wow!

        • Tammy

          Hi Jennifer, I am a Gen Xer born in 69, my brother was born in 67 and I have a sister born in 68. My Dad was born in 1924 and was in WW2 and my mother was born in 1930. I can definitely tell there is a difference between me and my friends who had younger parents. My Dad was on his second marriage, his first wife had died and my mother stayed home longer with her parents before she met my Dad. Both my parents did not work while I was growing up. My dad was disabled. I heard lots of stories about the depression and world war 2. I always knew my upbringing made me different because of my parents being older, I always thought they gave me some more wisdom that I did not see in my friends. Anyways, I could go on but this is definitely worth looking into.

          • Jennifer

            It’s great to read about your experience, Tammy. I would love to hear more. All things considered, it’s pretty rare for a Gen-Xer to be born to a parent born in 1924. What traditional and non-traditional Gen-X characteristics resonate with you the most? Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a note.

  44. CP

    Thank you for this! I just needed some damn commiseration! haha

    I’ve been on edge lately. You know how it is today, we have young kids and we’re working constantly both with our jobs and on our homes and kids. And then trying to find time to enjoy life. So, when I read and hear things that are somewhat upsetting, I’m getting WAY more upset. One of those things is the current climate of rage between Boomers and Millennials. We’re sitting here in the middle watching the Boomers group us up with the Millennials and the Millennials just completely overlooking us. At least for me, because I sit right on the cusp, volleyed back and forth between generations the way a child is either “your” child or “mine”, depending on how the child is behaving at the time. I don’t have time for this BS these two generations are spouting at each other all day – I’ve got a living to make while you guys argue who is more ego-driven and selfish. I’ll tell you who wins that argument…both.

    I have felt for quite some time that Gen X is full of self-deprecating attitudes and cynicism in large part because our parents brow beat us over our horrible work ethic and attitudes. It’s like they’re mad over the child labor laws. We didn’t contribute to the household at the age of 7. Well, neither did you. Sorry, but that was grandpa – not you. How could our generation have any self-esteem? I’ve always thought of us as the “depression” generation because we’ve suffered so much of it. Hell, depression actually got POPULAR. That’s pretty messed up. But when we talked to our parents/elders about it, in large part we were dismissed and called whiny crybabies. We weren’t raised by the most compassionate of generations.

    We could really turn things around, our generation. It would help if we weren’t so overburdened by financial problems, caused in large part by our parents’ generation. I feel frustrated by it. I’m sure many of us do. And this isn’t that I despise the Boomers…I’m actually consciously trying very hard to NOT single out and hate an entire generation, especially since there are a lot of people in that generation whom I love for the very fact that they’re incredibly kind, compassionate, and generous. I don’t want to be like THEM, on the whole. But, I’m beyond frustrated. I hear it in the workplace so much, too. I always have. To hear people my parents’ age and older trash talking my generation TO ME about how lazy we are. All this while I’m working circles around them and even helping those individuals do their jobs. How dare they? How dare you rely on someone only to spit on them while they do it? It just baffles me! I manage several teams in my work and the very best team I have is the only one comprised solely of Millennials. And they are the absolute hardest working people I have with me. Best people I’ve worked with in 20 years. They’re not ALL lazy…you know, just like we Gen X’ers weren’t all lazy, either.

    To me, the previous generation has put so much emphasis on respect that they forgot what respect truly is. They feel respect is based on age and is earned, but respect should be given freely and by default. Because we are all human beings. We all struggle. And we all just want to be happy, damn it. And here I sit, feeling guilty over this tirade. I feel like we’ve been so jaded that we became incredibly empathetic. And now we’re horribly jaded again through our empathy.

    • Jennifer

      1.”I’ve got a living to make while you guys argue who is more ego-driven and selfish.” Loved this statement. I’m worn slick by big egos. I am starting to get really good at ignoring people. I refuse to be in that tug of war.

      2. “Hell, depression actually got POPULAR. That’s pretty messed up.” Totally messed up. Prozac Nation. The marketing of depression. Ugh. Of course we were depressed. Unprotected childhood marked by parental neglect. Expensive college degrees. Joblessness. I could go on…

      3. I know a lot of hard-working Millennials, too; however, Generation Snowflake is real. haha!

      Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed your comment very much. I feel jaded, too, but as my kids and mother get older (my dad is already passed), I feel that being jaded is indulgent. Life is short. I hope to be content with whatever days I have left. That’s my prayer of late. Blessings…jen

  45. Tammie

    You hit Gen X …I was born March 21 1970
    The way I was raised the way I grew up til now. Even now at my age I still have the need to work hard …My children are all grown and I still over parent..Now it’s with advice..Being Gen X has made me independent, hard working, protective with my children and grandson , my husband,. and my siblings..If told I can’t do it , I learn it.Never took what I wanted , I worked hard to get it..

    • Jennifer

      You’re in the sweet spot of Gen X, Tammie! 1970!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. I hear so many of the same things from other Xers — especially the part about being independent and working for what you have. Please come back and visit often!

  46. Samira

    I would be interested in your view on the comparison between the GenX and the Indigo children.
    Hi. I just came across your article this evening while I searched on google about Generation X, my generation. I appreciated your title as well, perfectly understood. It’s nice to finally read the true traits of gen x in your article.
    Please email me if you like with your understandings of the two types indigo and gen x. I’ve already searched indigo on wiki. There’s a list of characteristics that sounds like us gen x people, but the rest of the indigo claims on wiki I’m not sure of. I would be interested in your thoughts too after this reading. Thank you ~ x

    • Jennifer

      Fascinating. I will find out and let you know what I think. Indigo children – that reference sounds vaguely familiar, but I know nothing about it. It seems like I read it in reference to Aussies or New Zealanders. I will find out and write back soon. jen

  47. Laurinda

    I can relate to alot of the Gen X stuff ( was born 7th Sept 1971, one day before famous Gen Xer David Arquette!) and although I was born in Australia, by the 1980’s our country was more “global” and followed a similar pattern to the US. We played computer games, watched MTV and had a global recession similar to the one in the States. In the early 90’s I didn’t follow the Grunge movement, I instead got caught up in the first seventies revival that was happening at the time (similar to the character Janeane Garafolo played on Reality Bites).
    Funnily enough I’m still a bit ‘stuck” in the seventies as I am nostalgic for the simpler times of my childhood- my vinyl albums, TV shows like Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, Policewoman and Fantasy Island and playing with the neighbourhood kids in our backyards!

  48. JessM

    Very informative article! I’m a late Gen Xer, born in early 1978 and it drives me nuts whenever I see one or two sources trying to identify me as a Millenial/Gen Yer (are they the same thing?). I don’t identify with that group at all. I found myself nodding along to most of the things here. Though I was lucky my parents remained together and had a good relationship when I was a kid (and still do to this day), quite a few of my friends in elementary school were latchkey kids from single parent households.

  49. Alyx

    Very interesting article, thanks! I’m an 80 baby, and I’ve always identified with Gen X- I seemed to have more in common with people born in the late 60s and 70s than I did with people born a few years after me. As I’ve gotten older (as well all have, actually) I find the distinctions to be a bit less noticeable, and I’m sure some of that has to do with becoming a mother.

    What I found most interesting is the explanation on why Gen X was/is the way it is regarding parenting; my husband and I have had multiple conversations about why children are the way they are now- why their parents do as they do (helicopter), and I’ve always been under the impression it has something to do with the breakdown of the family unit- that Gen Xers were the first to really experience divorce, single-parenthood and latchkey seems to give a better explanation, and I look forward to reading about it more.
    It’s interesting also, to note that because of this ‘hands off’ childhood/upbringing, that Gen X parents are hyper-aware and involved in every aspect of their children’s lives. Parental involvement is a good thing, especially in education ( I firmly believe parents are the primary educators) but the there is also too much of a good thing. Kids do need to be kids, and they need a certain amount of freedom and independence to make their own mistakes and learn from them. My husband and I break the gen X mold in that we are big believers in what’s come to be dubbed as “free-range parenting”. I want my children to feel confident in their ability to know what to do in a variety of situations, whether it’s being lost or being in a conflict with a neighborhood kid. I want them to be aware of the world around them and know how to navigate it without being afraid of it. I want them to understand that life isn’t fair, and that’s ok. Maybe we feel that way because we both grew up like that, and our parents marriages are still intact, 35-40 years later. Maybe we were just fortunate to have a good balance.

  50. Charlotte

    “But, I don’t see how a generation can only be 15 or 12 years in length. Childhood and youth comprise 18 years of our lives.”
    A “generation” in this sense isn’t about how long it takes to grow up. It is designated by the next big round of technological advances. That is why Gen X is only 12-15 years long and Baby Boomers spans a longer time frame.

  51. Becky

    As a mid-to late Gen X’r, I consider my self hopeful so I vote, an over protective parent but I give my children 2 or 3 choices to learn to make decisions on their own, to always respect authority and be respectful, to not be afraid to ask questions. Eventhough marketing labels us and people may call us names, we are one of the most educated and diversified bunch who knows what to do without being told how step by step. When I saw the message on taking care of disabled parents and children, this is so true in a different view, The workforce, there are disabled workers boomers about to retire and millenials comming to the workforce expecting coddling(almost considered a disability) from an HR perspective and point of view, it’s like you almost need the extended childcare for these millenials coming to the workplace, expecting full accommodations and time to rest, things are changing in the working world with millenials coming to the workforce and boomers leaving. I read an article that says that Gen X’rs are recognized by Y Gen as being more qualified acceptable managers and that they would rather have a Gen X be their manager. Boomers can no longer keep the corporate management world for long and Y Gen is too young and not so mature to take care of business right away, I see great opportunities coming our way in many years to come for our Generation and now we can finally stop playing catchup!

    • Gustavo


      • Anonymous


    • Brandy

      This gives us the chance to mold them completely. Ethics Ethics Ethics! The BB’s will be gone, it is literally our game to create and play. Let’s take it. As for Gen Y they were not allowed to do anything without permission and they are waiting for directions. And remind them, I would have had to figure out how to work the system complain to companies about flaws and wait 10 minutes for the computer to turn on. Your living the dream. Always positive attitude.

  52. AMOS

    Its true i agree with X and Y GEN

  53. Allie

    Trash, Ms/Mr 1955? Well, thank you. You made us.

  54. Anonymous

    Mmm, hello, I can relate to what you’re saying, and I truly think you have nailed the earlier timeline, that is 1961 for the beginning of this generation X. This generation is slightly after mine, I was born in 1955, and as I get older I can sense that timeline up to 1960, being my generation, and those after that year a vastly different breed, not trusting in God or government, largely, predominately, a hedonistic introverted, self-serving bunch that interestingly enough, seem to know exactly who they are, and prefer to couple with their own generation, and definitely prefer to stay clear of anything baby boomer. Thanks, we dont need your trash!

    • Lisa

      Jen, that “trash” comment raised my eyebrows as well. In fact, the entire post made me chuckle a bit. My husband, born in 1947, is an older Boomer than the writer, and yet given his distrust of both religion and government (who on earth actually “trusts” politicians?) and marriage to an early Gen Xer would, I suppose, make him “trash” in her eyes as well.

      Sometimes you just have to shake you head at some people’s myopic “silliness” (I would use a stronger term, but thought I would keep this “g” rated).

  55. Ardy T

    Last year I was introduced to Strauss and Howe’s seminal work Generations and read it voraciously as well as their Fourth turning and 13th gen. It was like a homecoming for me, in that I finally could connect. I am a 1962 Gen Xer that NEVER fit into the boomer group. I never did LSD, or went to a rock concert, or protested the war. I grew up latch key, with a Silent generation mom, greatest generation DAD (WW2 decorated alcoholic). Left home at 17, went to college, wouldn’t have called working 2-3 jobs at a time a slacker, as well as teaching myself music. But have seen how even as we work very hard, as a cohort we have struggled the most financially. With that said, I feel blessed to live in a country of such opulence and opportunity, so even if I didn’t make a million in the stock market, I can take care of myself whatever happens, including the possible loss of Social Security, which once again means we are supporting the retiring Boomers. Being a Gen Xer means being a survivalist, and I believe I am due to our collective upbringing. I foster a 13 yof and see how the needs of the next generation take precedent, since they do need a better skill set than what was left to us. It’s as S&H predicted, we would sacrifice our gain for the youth. Thanks for your blog.

  56. Lisa

    I think much of this depends entirely on when you were born during the wide span people term “Generation X” and also where you grew up. I was born at the beginning to parents who were not “Boomers” but members of the “Silent Generation” (both born in the 1930s). I did not know a single person whose parents were divorced until I was well into High School, and yes, upperclassmen in my (Catholic, no less) High School were allowed to smoke on campus.

    I find myself generally having very little in common with those who are defined as “my generation” and far more in common with “Boomers” (in general).

  57. Renee

    I stumbled across this webpage kind of by accident. I saw an article on “hipsters” and started looking up my own generation.

    I was born in 1971 and when I started reading this whole thing about latch key kids, neglect and rampant sexual abuse. It struck a real cord in me and made me understand something about myself as a parent. I read a bunch of the articles about Gen X parents and when I got to the one written to educators and administrators, I laughed because I am very much of a “stealth parent” in regards to my son’s education.

    I’m a funny mix though because my “attack mode” has never been specifically about “consumer outcome” as much as it has embodied morals and ethics of my predeceasing generation. My parents weren’t baby boomers though; they were “furlough” kids. (Born during WWII) Most of what “rattles my cage” has specifically to do with how my son is treated, not necessarily if he’s getting “the best opportunities”. So here is where I’m half X and half boomer. My son is in a special education program. He’s autistic and has epilepsy.

    And here is the one factor I think you miss though in regards to X-ers and the public education system. Yes, we are very much “the sandwich generation”. We are sandwiched between ageing parents and raising children; but in much higher percentiles than any other generation, we are sandwiched between disabled parents and disabled children. The presence of Autism exploded in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There were a lot of factors to this; which makes us the generation per-capita that has more disabled children than any one before us. It’s estimated that 1 in 150 kids fall on the Autism spectrum today. That’s a huge strain on the educational system and it’s a huge strain on us as parents.

    So here is the other side of the same coin. The parents that are pushing to make their kids “turn out successful” and those of us who are simply fighting to keep our kids from having to live in group homes when they grow up. When that reality hits you, you have to learn to dream a different dream.

    Just thought this conversation needed a little more perspective.


    • Renee

      One of the research papers I did for one of my college classes was about Autism and factors in the environment that have caused it. If you want a copy of the paper, E-mail me.


    • sloane

      I realize this post was years ago, but in researching GenX for a book I’m writing (I’m ’73) this really resonated. I don’t feel like I’m a helicopter parent in the typical sense but have three girls, two autistic and two adhd, all with mental health challenges. As you know it forces you into some hovering just to have them survive. Suicide is even more of a real thing and rates among autistics is about 9 fold higher.

      • Jennifer X

        I did not know that about the suicide rate among people with autisim. What is the book you’re working on about?

  58. khushbu zahra

    hi thank you so much for give me a lot of information about generation x. i am a student and i was looking for this generation to write an essay on it for my test.this helps me alot

  59. Marci

    I found your page while researching for a script I’m working on. Thanks for the great info. I was wondering if maybe we went to the same high school…it has to do with your comment on the smokers. My high school had a place for them near a “pit” for water retention. It rains 9 months out of the year and the smokers were called “pond rats”.

  60. Stephanie Purdy

    Hello Jennifer. Thank you so much for your Generation X blog. This was most definitely educational. I have also never known about the different generation names out there.

  61. Brendan

    Hi Jen,

    Just found this blog post. I’m late Gen X, born 1980. My sister is your age, born 1967. One thing I have noticed, there seems to be a personality split between early and late Xers. It’s probably this way for all generations. To me, late Xers are much more cynical and walled off. Early Xers are more prone to connecting with peers and family, along with other things, like doing volunteer work. The late Xers were “Beavis and Butthead” kids and we were looked at in this manner; as unintelligent brutes who wouldn’t amount to anything.

    According to Strauss/Howe, the last cycle of “Xers”, the Lost Generation (1883-1900) fought in WWI and included Mr. Priestly, whose quote is brilliant. This cohort included: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, De Gaulle, Truman.


    I do believe Strauss/Howe nailed the birth years on Gen X. It definitely goes through the early ’80s. Besides, a biological generation is around 20 years and to make it shorter is silly. When I mention things like being able to smoke at high school to Millennials, even those born in the mid-80s, they look at me, bug-eyed. Junior High only existed for Xers… Now it’s called Middle School. Internet meant BBS on a 2400 baud modem.

  62. Rob conger


    • metoo

      This is so true. US and world Economists have tried to stretch out the Baby Boomer years into the early X years and it is so frustrating. From being treated as the younger peskier siblings to now being included in the older Boomers generation, even though some of us share older parents. Our experiences of the world in the 60’s were not the same as the older Boomers, us being babies, many of them old enough to be our parents. Woo hoo for mini skirts, the pill, hairy hippies and their big sell outs. What’s worse are their bratty kids. Not the same!

      And to those born in the 80’s. You are not generation X.

      • john Lord

        While I can understand your animus towards the boomers on some level, I really don’t understand what you have against their ” bratty kids” as you refer to them. Did you ( generation x) enjoy being labeled slackers?

      • Steve

        I think that if someone is old enough to have real memories of the 60s (beyond just early childhood-flash type memories), then they are a boomer. Also, I think that if someone has meaningful memories of the 80s, then they are GenX, so I don’t agree with your viewpoint (which seems centered around your own experience). Much of what makes GenX GenX are things that happened in the 80s and 90s, so cutting off 1980 or 1981 doesn’t make sense. If you want to exclude later years from the GenX definition, then “we” need to rewrite what GenX and millennial mean. GenX would need to cut out any references to the 90s and be based on 1970s and 80s events/trends only. Also, most of what defines a millennial is stuff that actually occurred in the new millennium – not stuff that happened during supposed millenials formative years (the 80s and 90s), so the definition of millennial needs to be rewritten as well.

        Saying to someone who was in their 20s when cell phone became ubiquitous and mid 20s when social media started “you are a millennial because you were shaped by social media” doesn’t make any more sense than calling a boomer a millennial for the same reason; generational definitions are about your formative – not adult – years. Also, using 9/11 as some sort of measure of a millennial vs. GenX also doesn’t make sense. 9/11 impacted all ages, but that’s another story……..

        You have to realize that people born in 1980 and 1981 grew up with record players until they were 7 or 8, didn’t have internet at home until college, still got landlines when they went to college at the end of the 90s, still applied for jobs via fax, started dating before internet dating when you actually had to meet people in person, etc. None of these types of things are “typical millennial.”

  63. Mike

    As a genXer it was easy to become cynical by just watching the news. I’d come home to an empty house and turn on the tube. Both my parents had career jobs. I’ve seen more than my share of terrible events all caused by greed and stupidity, thanks to the Boomer generation. Even in my mid to late 40s I still hold on to the belief that things will get better. One just has to make it happen what ever it takes. Still I do think of the early 90s when I finally went to college and Nirvana and other grunge bands music which reflected the same ideas and issues faced with my generation. Those sweet old days when living outside the material aspect of life was so grand.

    • Jami

      Early 90’s music (Pearl Jam, AIC, Nirvana) was everything. They perfectly captured all the angsty, introspective feelings of my college years, also. Such an upgrade from the 80’s hair bands, whom I could not relate to on any level.

      I loved your comment about “living a life outside the material aspects of life.” Ahhh, yes. Youth. 🙂

  64. Will B.

    I was born in ’85 yet I somehow feel that I relate more to Gen X than I do with Gen Y. The circumstances regarding my upbringing would have it that Gen Y’s cultural beginnings had yet to start. I vividly remember a lot of the old technology and pop culture, but not quite historical events except for the Clinton Years. Perhaps I am a Gen Y that had lived in a Gen X world. Call it what you will, but I feel distant from the best-known characteristics of Gen Y. I honestly can’t relate. Your typical Millennial wouldn’t know half the stuff I know.

    Anyway, great article.

  65. Bill Davis

    With a week here and there, we can be the greatest generation. We aren’t as blind to the entire world as some in the past, not as idealistic (and ready to throw it out the window for security and greed) as some.

    We have it all and the the unhandled vision to do something about it.

  66. Derek "Raven" Wood

    Just found your website tonight as I was googling Generation X, Rv traveling long term. Good to see perspectives from another Gen Xer, great insights 🙂 My wife, Teresa, is the talent behind our travel blog. Cheers, Derek.

  67. joe

    Well done. The Fisher Price people are perfect for us.

  68. Carl D'Agostino

    Great summary/analysis. Thanks visit my blog.

    • Lakshitha

      really nice….. short & sweet!!!!!!! it helped me a lot in my studies… thanx!!!!!!!


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