12 Lessons Boomers & Gen X Can Learn From Millennials & Gen Z

Class is in session and Millennials & Gen Z are catching Boomers & Gen X up on how they navigate this zany digital age.

Published February 20, 2024

Boomers and Gen X are constantly being pitted against Millennials and Gen Z, and we think they deserve a break. So, put up your feet, turn on some dad rock, and let the Millennials and Gen Z teach you a thing or two.

Fashion Is Made to Be Experimented With


From clashing prints to upcycled outfits to sweaters folded into fashionable halter tops, the ways you can customize fashion are endless. Millennials to a certain extent, but mostly Gen Z, have embraced a fully unconventional approach to building personal style.

Who needs gendered or functional-specific clothing? If they want to wear a pair of trainers with a suit coat and cut-off jeans, they’ll do it with the smooth panache of someone comfortable with identity. Gen Z isn’t scared of experimenting with style, and it’s something that Boomers and Gen X can try to break away from.

You Don't Have to Measure Your Life in Milestones


Gen X and Boomers were bred with the understanding that there was only one way to succeed at life, and there was a single timeline they needed to follow. High school led to college or marriage depending on your gender, which led to a career, and having children, a mortgage, and working tirelessly until the ripe old age of retirement.

Given the social and economic shifts that followed in its wake, Millennials and Gen Z had to buck the system. They’ve rewritten the rules and decided to live their lives based on their own trajectory. They make the manifold, they craft the maps, and they choose when (or if) they hit certain milestones.

Thrifting Saves Money & Maximizes Style


The “make, sew, mend” generation might fare better with this Gen Z lifestyle motto than the “shop ‘til you drop” kids of the 1980s will. Unfortunately, the latter half of the 20th century and heading into the millennium had a huge taboo about buying used clothing, furniture, and home goods. In order to “make it,” you had to buy the latest, freshest threads on the runway.

Yet, some Millennials and much of Gen Z have faced the dangers of fast fashion and chosen to rebel against it by thrifting. They might not be able to afford homes, but they can curate a sweet collection of cool vintage stuff to deck out their studio apartments with. What Boomers and Gen X can learn from this is how to save money and maximize style.

Be Inclusive of Identities Different Than Yours


Gen Z and the Millennials before them have made remarkable strides in acceptance and inclusivity among their peers. From the body positivity to body neutrality movement, to the trans rights movements, to individual high school students protesting their solidarity for different races, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and more.

While this is a nuanced conversation, and there’s a lot of cultural context missing when we call Gen X and Boomer’s past behavior into question, the fact that one group of people is making those changes in the here and now proves that everyone has the capability to do so — harmful socialization and upbringing or not.

Unique Body Modifications Aren't a Big Deal


In the past few years alone, we’ve seen piercing and tattoo challenges take social media by storm. People are more excited than ever to explore their bodies as art. And since so many people are getting visibly tattooed, pierced, and dying their hair crazy colors, businesses have stopped enforcing their rules against them.

And what Boomers and Gen X should realize is that the best years of your life for modifying your body aren’t behind you. Your body’s just as deserving of being explored as a younger person's.

Related: 9 Notorious Forgotten 90s Toys We'd Still Play With Today

College Isn't the Only Path to a Successful Career


Both Boomers and Gen Xers whose children or grandchildren have entered college age in the past two decades have been shocked at how little college degrees do for them. Today, they hold as much cultural capital as a soggy paper straw. Entry-level positions pay increasingly little and demand more and more experience.

In their day, having a college degree meant you could transcend one economic class into another. And while many older folks have started to come around to the idea that college isn’t everything, some rail against the notion. But, take one look at the hairdressers, mechanics, or influencers making six figures, and you can’t deny that there are far more lucrative pathways you can take to making a successful career.

Don't Wait for Retirement to Do Fun Things


Millennials and Gen Z’s caustic and nihilistic humor about watching the world die in their time hints at real concerns about retirement even being a possibility for them. When you’re faced with future prospects like no property, no guaranteed social security, and massive student loan debt, there doesn’t seem to be much point in waiting to have fun.

With the increasing violence, economic instability, and social stratification plaguing the world right now, younger people are wise to the point that you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. So, take that vacation and buy that silly handbag. Why wait until you’ve got no mobility and energy to do the fun things you dream about doing?

Be Skeptical of the News


Unfortunately, news outlets have gotten incredibly insidious, and Gen X and Boomers' news literacy hasn’t updated with the times. They’re running on good-faith software that can’t compute how a news organization could manipulate, lie, or omit information to serve an agenda. To many of them, the news meant facts, and so everything they say must be a fact.

Thankfully, being more interconnected than ever before lets us be at the scene of most major global events. You’ve got first-hand testimony in the palms of your hands! Millennials and Gen Z are constantly uncovering and adapting to media outlets' tactics, and Gen X and Boomers need to take a page from their book.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


There’s been a huge shift towards conscious spending with the younger generations. They may not make a lot of money, but they put their money where their mouth is. They support independent creators directly through platforms like Patreon, and they splurge on sustainable products.

Boomers and Gen Xers (largely) weren’t taught to think about every purchase they made and whether there was a better option that aligned more with their morals and social mores. But they can look to their successors to see how they’re making it work.

The Customer Isn't Always Right


Millennials and Gen Z would rather eat an overcooked steak than send it back to the chef. A few pennies lost in some miscounted cash back is par for the course for these younger generations. Given how non-lucrative most career paths are today, younger people are working retail and service jobs in droves.

The collapse of the traditional corporate ladder has let millennials and Gen Z see their own struggles and fights in service workers. Instead of separating themselves from some arbitrary marker like salary and demanding them to be at their beck and call, they band together. It’s never too late to learn how to have solidarity for the working class.

Don't Wait to Be Fired to Find New Opportunities


Word on the street for Millennials and Zoomers is that you shouldn’t stay at any job or with any employer for more than five years. It’s a “learn everything you possibly can and go make more money somewhere else with it” kind of situation.

The job market might as well be an orange to the apple that Gen X and Boomers grew up in. The allure of pensions, the falsehoods of company culture, and the realities that you’re always expendable hadn’t hit yet. But even Gen Xers and Boomers can benefit from taking the leap of faith in themselves and going for the opportunity.

Your Beliefs Should Change as You Learn New Information


Young millennials and Zoomers have a fluid approach to beliefs. They’re constantly downloading and processing new information and changing their current thoughts to fit the data they’ve been given. They’re not stuck on the idea that they should die on the hill of every belief they were taught when they were a kid.

Comparatively, Gen X and Boomers are quite rigid in their approach to new lifestyles and information. It’s a mental processing pathway that’s been baked in their brain for years; but with time and guidance from these younger folks, they can break through it.

There's Always Time to Be a Better You


Being an adult and getting older isn’t easy. You’ve only got so much energy to allocate throughout the day, and adapting to the latest trends sometimes falls to the bottom of the list. But, there’s always time to be a better you, and both Boomers and Gen X can learn a thing or two from those Millennial and Gen Z meddling kids.

12 Lessons Boomers & Gen X Can Learn From Millennials & Gen Z