The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
May 192012

There seem to be many recent efforts to define and name the next (post-Millennial) Generation.  I’ll deal with the naming question in another post.  Let’s just look at the question of defining when these post-Millennials are born.  Many marketers and psychologists are claiming that this new generation is already in its mid-teens, which means that its oldest members were born in the mid-1990s, which means that the Millennial Generation, if its first members were born in the early 1980s, is only around 13 or 14 years long.

But isn’t a generation supposed to be roughly twenty years long?  Perhaps, but none of these experts really say much about the expected length of a generation—or even care much about it.

Magid Associates, which recently released a report calling these post-Millennial “Plurals,” defines them as all Americans born in 1997 and after (terminal birth date unknown), Millennials as born from 1977 to 1996 (a 20-year generation), and Generation X as born 1965 to 1976 (an 11-year generation).  So Millennials include the 1977 birth year?  So Kanye West is a Millennial?  Very interesting.  Magid, apparently in order to avoid shortening the Millennial Generation, instead shortens Generation X to only 11 years.  This is a solution?  Do they simply think that no one cares about Gen-Xers anymore?  And even beyond the question of generational length, one wonders: What is the justification for these dividing lines?  What is it about the age location in history of these birth cohorts (1976-77 or 1999-97) that makes them generational boundary lines?  We are offered no explanation.  Magid’s report includes not one word justifying its choice of birth-year dates.

A new USA Today piece on the post-Millennials, which attempts to identify some of their key traits, again quotes experts saying their oldest members are now in high school.  Yet unlike the Magrid report, these experts don’t mind lopping off the last half of Millennials without adjusting the first Millennial birth date.  In other words, they don’t mind shortening the Millennial Generation.  And for this, they do have a justification: namely, that history is moving faster, technology is accelerating, and (hey) just so much more is happening now than ever before.  And if more is happening, then generational boundaries (which I guess they regard as arbitrary mile posts of historical change) naturally fly by us ever faster—like roadside telephone poles as you punch the gas pedal of your new 900-hp Mustang.

The gist of this argument is implied by the following passage in the USA Today story (I am quoted here, but not to any effect):


Whether middle- and high-schoolers are really a separate generation, as Rosen suggests, or “late-wave Millennials” isn’t clear; Howe believes the latter.

“I think you’re going to find a lot of disagreement about this,” Rosen says. “I don’t think you can define a generation when you’re in the middle of it. The best you can do is try to characterize the similarities and differences and the overlap.”

He suggests, however, that new generations arise based on their use of new technologies; he says identifiable new generational groups are emerging more frequently than in the past.

The Baby Boom generation, for example, most often thought of as those born from 1946 through 1964, lasted almost 20 years. But Generation X, born from about 1965 through 1980, was five years shorter. And the Millennials (also known as Gen Y) appear to be about 10 years, he suggests.


Well, I certainly agree with Larry Rosen (a psychologist and prolific writer about kids and technology) about one thing: You are going to find a lot of disagreement.

Let me start with the common assumption that history and technology are changing so much faster today than in the past.  I totally disagree—or at least I would insist on asking, which aspect of history and technology are you talking about?

Let’s consider, for a moment, the life experiences of the peers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, born 1890.  When he was a child, kings and queens still ruled Europe, you needed to know Morse Code to communicate faster than a horse could run, and (in fact) horses were the only mode of ordinary street transport, even in the largest cities (the removal of manure being a huge municipal challenge); children routinely died from bacterial infections; and Lord Kelvin, one of the greatest scientists of that age, declared that “aeronautical travel” was impossible.  Now let’s fast-forward to Eisenhower at age 69, in 1959, during his second presidential term.  He was inside in a Boeing 707 (the first “Air Force One”) dictating memos on the deployment of hydrogen bombs, sugar-cube vaccines for polio, and plans to put a “man on the moon” (a plan later spelled out by Jack Kennedy and executed on time by LBJ), while flying at 35,000 feet over a nation whose vast, affluent, home-owning, car-driving, union card-holding middle class would have been utterly inconceivable in the presidency of William McKinley (or during the twilight years of Queen Victoria).  Oh, and did I forget to mention that he lived through two world wars and the establishment of two totalitarian states (USSR and PRC), all responsible for the slaughter, deportation, and migration of countless tens of millions—and the rise of a family of liberal and democratic “developed economies” responsible for the affluence of hundreds of millions.

Yeah, he lived through just a bit of history.

Meanwhile, I get up every morning and drive basically the same silly internal-combustion car that people drove fifty years ago–through the same suburbs on the same interstates to the same buildings powered by the same nuclear plants and hydroelectric dams that Eisenhower’s peers saw fit to build.  As for space travel, whoa!—that seems further in the future today than when Eisenhower was Pres.  And I complain about how history is accelerating?  Oh, sure, my peers got to see the Berlin Wall get torn down.  But his generation got to witness the seismic global events that built them up.  I’m not denying that the changes in digital IT over the last three decades have been breathtaking.  They have been.  I’m astounded every time I punch an app on my smart phone.  But I have often observed that people tend to fixate on whatever aspect of their social environment is changing the fastest, and ignore those aspects which are in fact surprisingly stationary.

In the Fourth Turning, we point out that the western world (especially since the Reformation) has adopted a uniquely linear view of history in which practically every generation believes it just happens to be experiencing the apocalyptic inflection point in world history, in which humanity is about to be completely transformed either morally or technologically.  And to buttress such conviction, we try so very hard to persuade ourselves, contrary to fact, that our grandparents and our earlier ancestors have lived through a history in which very little happened.  Let us please rid ourselves of this modernist hubris.

That is point one.  Now for point two: another disagreement.  The “speed” of history—regardless of whether you think it is accelerating or decelerating–is not what determines the length of generations.  Rather, what determines their length is the biologically and socially defined length of a phase of life—in particular the length of childhood, the number of years that elapse between birth and coming of age as an adult.  This is true because a very different social role is associated with each phase of life—so that when the social mood suddenly changes everyone will be shaped differently depending up their age.  The climax of World War II, for example, affected Americans who were still regarded as children (through age 19 on D-Day), very differently than those who were regarded as young adults.  The former (whose role was to keep quiet and stay safe) became the Silent Generation, the latter (whose role was to organize, rise up, and meet the enemy) became the G.I. Generation.  And those would have no memory at all of World War II would become the Boomer Generation.  These boundary lines are not arbitrary, and the transition from one generation to another is not continuous.

Although there’s more to the story of defining these three generations than just World War II, the concept of generations being forged by the intersection of history and phase of life is fundamental to the writing of so many of the great generations thinkers, from Emile Littre and John Stuart Mill to Orega y Gassett and Karl Mannheim.  See a bit more here.  I just wish that the marketers and social scientists who today opine about generational length (those few who even bother) demonstrated a bit more familiarity with the rich history of brilliant thinkers writing about generations over the past couple of centuries.

That is point two.  Now for point three: yes, still another disagreement—and this one is directed specifically at those who believe that “iGeneration kids” are digital natives, differently wired neuronally to be multitaskers , parallel thinkers, etc.  They miss the point.  Technology does not shape generations.  And those who believe it does tend to have a superficial understanding of what a generation is—as though a generation were shapeless and formless before a new device (like a smart phone or an ipad) miraculously imprints something on them.  It is far more accurate to say the reverse, that generations shape technology.  A generation, impelled in its youth by parents and by the prevailing social mood to acquire corrective attitudes and behaviors (toward family, risk, civic life, money, gender roles, rebellion, authority, whatever) will then come of age inventing new technologies to suit these new attitudes and behaviors.

Were Boomers “shaped” by the mainframe “Organization Man” computers they grew up with?  Hell no—only to the extent they invented (with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates) “personal computers” that would liberate the individual from mainframes.  (Steve Jobs: “1984 won’t be like 1984.”)  And were Millennials “shaped” by the late-90’s end-of-history dream that the internet would cater to the ever-more privatistic desires of individual.  Again no—only to the extent this pushed them to popularize or invent the IMing and texting and smart phones and social network sites that would reconnect their peers back into one vast fish-bowl community.  (Mark Zuckerberg: “the social graph is our future.”)

No one thinks of his or her own generation as mindlessly or mechanistically “shaped” by the technology they inherited.  They think of their own generation as having a mind and spirit of its own.  So why do they think it will be any different for today’s kids?  These experts would employ their energy much more fruitfully if they were to look closely at the family, community, and economic environment surrounding these kids and to try to draw parallels from past generations of kids that experienced a similar shift in the prevailing social mood.  How did they turn out?  What can we learn here?

Here’s where I’ll lay my cards on the table: I think the closest parallel for this new generation of kids is the Silent Generation.  Like today’s Homelanders (that’s our tentative reader-chosen name for post-Millennials), the Silent were a generation of children who were born just too late to recall a boom (the Roaring Twenties) and instead recalled nothing but hard times; who were very protectively raised by hands-on, pragmatic parents (then, Lost; today, Xers); and who learned early in life to fit in seamlessly (conform) to the peer mainstream.  I’ll defend this view in a future post.

That is point three.  And now for point four, which is my cynical take, having been an veteran observer of “generational” discoveries for well over twenty years.  Authors and marketers always want to be the first to proclaim the emergence of a “new” generation.  And to be the first, it always helps to cut short the current youth generation and say—wow!—I just noticed something brand new!  I can hardly recall how many times this happened with Millennials.  I recall the first mention of the term BABY BOOMLET or ECHO BOOM GENERATION applied to kids born in the early mid-1970s, and then GENERATION Y (invented by Ad Age in 1993, and originally applied to kids born from 1974 to 1980), and then terms like DIGITAL GENERATION, NET GEN, GENERATION 2000, GENERATION NEXT, GENERATION 2000, Y2KIDS, and GENERATION WHY.  Without exception, each of these new labels required, breathlessly, the hurrying in of a new cut-off point.

It’s been a wild ride.  And after it’s all over, we have mostly settled on dates for Gen-Xers and Millennials that define each of them as born over a period of roughly twenty years—just like most other American generations stretching back over centuries.  Yes, some generations manifest steep attitudinal or behavioral trends from first-wave to last-wave.  This was certainly true for Boomers.  And it seems to be true as well for Millennials.  But history cautions us against mistaking these first wave-last wave differences for entirely new generational dividing lines.  History sometimes acts on us.  History can speed us up or slow us down.  But we cannot do the same and act on history—we cannot speed history up or slow it down.

As ever, generations will arrive in their own sweet time.

May 272010

A very good piece about Generation X (born 1961-1981) moms are running against the tide of over-protection.  Unlike most X’er parents who want to protect their Homelander children at all costs, she instead suggest that kids should learn by being out in the world playing with peers on their own. She’s right, of course, that playing games with peers develops self regulation. But the new mode (see the  preschool “Tools of the Mind” curriculum) develops self-regulation by games with the teacher or by carefully supervised peer games in which the various roles play are all pre-chosen. That way you make sure that the games only teach the right lessons and none of the wrong ones.

The need to some kind of role-playing or game-playing to develop self-regulation is very well established.  In a famous European study, one group of 2nd graders was simply told to stand absolutely still for as long as they could.  Average time before giving up: around 2 minutes.  Another group was told to stand absolutely still because you are a sentry on duty guarding a post.  Average time: 12 minutes.  The need kids have to “imagine themselves into” a role of success or mastery at something (as a parent, doctor, patient, scientist, warrior, whatever) is so basic that one wonders why ordinary K-12 schools don’t tap into it more often.

Apr 022010

This article in the Washington Post that describes the alternative to failing schools: going online. Like early college and service academies, the most innovative programs introducing on-line education to K-12 is happening with low-achieving, “at-risk”  kids.  Apparently, the school establishment would just as soon hive these off.  But they don’t dare give up their middle- and upper-achievers.

Interesting how parents are beginning to come around, probably due to the rising presence of Generation X (born 1961-1981).  On-line advocates need to stop trying to confirm quality of instruction and begin to address the community and civic dimensions of education, which I think give rise to most of the qualms.  The author mentions this objections, but doesn’t really say how the problem is solved.

She is absolutely right, though,  about the irony of the feds giving new R&D money to post-secondary schools to develop on-line education—as if they need it: The University of Phoenix is now hitting 500,000 enrollees, more than the Big Ten combined!  But nothing for K-12, which remains an utter backwater in the application of any kind of technology beyond the occasional classroom movie.  In this, the teachers unions truly are reactionary.

Feb 222010

Though I’m quoted several times in this article, I don’t really agree much with its conclusions.  As you may know, I tend to downplay the central and causal role attributed to technology by so many generational “theorists.”  More to the point, I pay a lot more attention to the way generations shape technology rather than the other way around.  But apparently that idea is a hard sell.  Listen especially to what many of these people say about the *length* of a generation.  Since they have no definition of what a generation is, nor any theory about how generations are formed, their observations here seem like stabs in the dark.

Nov 302009

Great piece in the NY Times about behavioral parenting. Generation X (born 1961-1981) are really getting into this. Here’s a good line:

“It’s finite, and it’s what they crave,” Ms. Hope explained. “Children love structure, the same as animals love structure.”

2009-11-25_1259There were plenty of “authoritative” childcare guides back in the 80s that Boomer (born 1943-1960) parents gobbled up. Bill and I looked at a lot of them. They were, to be sure, very different from what Xers are reading today. The Boomer guides tended to be very attitudinal, even counter-cultural, stressing the need for a whole new way of looking at relationships, at society, at gender roles and at your own life. It was really an extension of the Lamaze Movement-very spiritual and full of the power of suggestion-that hit full on in the 1980s. Bill Cosby influenced a lot of young adult Boomers, but because he was Silent (born 1925-1942), Boomers wanted to take his value-free-let’s-discuss-everything point of view and move it in a more normative direction. A lot of Boomers really wanted to change society with the way they raised their kids. And in trying to do that, they believed all that mattered was the intensity and quality of their relationship with their child and the correctness of the values they taught them.

With Xer guides, everything has changed. Xer guides are much more prescriptive, full of do’s and don’t’s, and much less attitudinal. Many of the Boomer guides looked a bit like the Whole Earth Catalogue: It showed how raising children was part of a whole world view. To Xers, hey, child rearing is just like any other technique or business-there must be a good way and a bad way to get the job done. I want to do it the good way.

Xer guides are much more scientific in the sense that the authors need to show that there’s empirical evidence favoring one way over another. Skeptical Xers don’t take advice on pure faith. Amazingly, Boomer guides rarely talked about evidence: We just “knew” e.g. that Lamaze just *must* be a vastly superior way to give birth. Just look at those Hopi designs on the book cover! (btw, I’m a big supporter of Lamaze; I just acknowledge that it was never sold to us as an evidence-based practice.)

As I’ve mentioned, Xer guides are putting a lot more stress on behavioral techniques. Dog whispering is, admittedly, an extreme example. But apt. As in so many other things, Gen-Xers know how to take their own ego out of the equation, which is what behavioral parenting requires. The whole behavioral point of view is very Xer in that it looks at the human condition as a matter of external conditioning and adaptation-a useful antidote to the endless Boomer fixation on interior motives and values.

In the end, one must say that there’s a real bottom-line pragmatism about Xer child raising that wasn’t there for Boomers. Raising children isn’t about saving the world or making a perfect child or self-actualizing the parent. It’s just a set of tangible practices that will keep your child safe, reasonably happy, well behaved, and ready to take on life’s challenges when they’re good and ready but not until then. Forget the “supermom,” striving to correct her shortcomings. Now it’s the “good enough mom,” humorously self-deprecating about her shortcomings. What else would you expect from someone who’s read The Idiot’s Guide to Parenting. Good parenting for Boomers depended on being a good person. Hence the anxiety. Now it just means knowing a bag of tricks and being there at the right time. So now you can joke about it.

Xer pragmatism means today’s parents are much less interested in trying to make their kids perfect in situations where it really doesn’t matter that much. Xer parents, for example, are notoriously careless about how their kids in public places. (OK, civic comity is not very high on their priorities in any case.) But if they don’t care how other adults see their kids, they are extremely wary about other adults approaching or interacting with their kids. That’s “hands-on” parenting.

Here’s another example. Boomer parents often didn’t think very hard about exactly *where* they raised their kids. As long as the emotional bond was high quality, the place really didn’t matter. So Boomers trekked with their small tots out to wildness outposts, or to communes, or to inner-city neighborhoods as urban homesteaders, and so on. So long as you lived your own authentic dreams, your kids would be fine. Xer parents are much less likely to think that way. To them, place really matters. Lots of Xers are moving into very pricey suburban or exurban communities whose lifestyle they loathe (god, do I really have to feed and mow all that grass!), just so their kids will be able to attend the best schools and be around other kids with like-minded parents.

According to Judith Harris, whose influential though admittedly controversial book “The Nurture Assumption” appeared in 1998, Xers may be making the smarter choice. She argues that the only important influence that parents actually have over their own kids is the genes they pass on. The environmental influence of parents is practically nil-much less important than the influence of the youth peer group that surrounds the child as it grows up. Thus, according to Harris, Xers are indeed focusing on the one variable which turns out to make a difference.

btw, the Harris book is excellent. She supports her conclusion with reams of academic evidence (she’s practically a walking library on twin and adoptee and child development studies), and in any case she writes very well. Her thesis also has very important implications for any theory of generational formation-which is why I find her work especially interesting. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Nov 232009

The cover of Time Magazine this week features on article on overparenting:,8599,1940395-1,00.html

(thanks to JenX67 for the link)

The claim is that a backlash is forming, but I wonder whether that will really be the case. The author of the Time article doesn’t seem to discriminate between over-achieving parenting (typical of Boomer (born 1943-1960)) and over-protective parenting (typical of  Generation X (born 1961-1981)). Things like “slow parenting” are a good example of where Gen X is rejecting the Boomer over-achiever style:

This is a Slow Family Living class, taught by perinatal psychologist Carrie Contey and Bernadette Noll. “Our whole culture,” says Contey, 38, “is geared around ‘Is your kid making the benchmarks?’ There’s this fear of ‘Is my kid’s head the right size?’ People think there’s some mythical Good Mother out there that they aren’t living up to and that it’s hurting their child. I just want to pull the plug on that.”

There is definitely a Gen X driven backlash against the whole perfectionist Boomer “hyper-parenting” style. But the whole move back to simple, slow, home-based child rearing often leads to parenting styles that are even more hands-on and protective than they were before. Workshops on how to help kids by “letting go” and the mathematical reassessment of which risks are worth guarding against has a comical aspect. You will know when the next generation of young children are arriving (their parents will be late-wave Millennial (born 1982-200?)) when no one is any longer interested in this subject. We’ve built a whole new world that is basically safe, so now let’s just ignore them and not worry any longer. When we reach that point, young Prophets (the next incarnation of the Boomers) will be among us.

Nov 122009

Proviso: I don’t of course agree with everything–or maybe even most of the things–Jim Quinn says.  But I do love the passion and intensity and texture of his analysis.  He is definitely a worthy contributor.  I don’t know his age, but I guess like the rest of you he’s Boomer-Xer cusp.

On the starting date for the Fourth Turning (Crisis) (4T), I believe Bill and I did a column on the 4T site several years ago detailing all the reasons why we thought it did not begin with 9/11.  We got some flak at the time, because there were lots of people who *wanted* it to begin then.  But to our eye, it was clearly too early.  Typically, a new turning begins after all of the living generations begin to move into their new phases of life.  In 2001, clearly that hadn’t happened yet: Boomers were not yet retiring, Generation X (born 1961-1981) were not yet taking over any institutions as midlife leaders, Millennial (born 1982-200?) were barely graduating high school, and so on.  We predicted that the Third Turning (Unraveling) (3T) mood would yet have an Indian Summer… and so it did.  Keep in mind that on the “Hero clock” of the last 4T, we are still not quite due for the 4T to begin.  The ’29 Crash happened 28 years after the first G.I. (born 1901-1924) birth year.  We will hit that same year  for Millennials in… 2010.

All that being said, many are asking me if I think the 4T has yet started.  I’m with Mr. Cooper.  For nearly a year now, I’ve been saying that a strong case can be made that it started in 2008–with the beginning of an epic financial crash (a 60% decline in the global Dow from peak to trough) and an extraordinary national election that may signal an enduring political realignment and that has, for the time being, put government on a sort of permanent emergency fiscal footing (with 10% of GDP deficits that may only come down slowly if at all).  And yes thanks to 911 everyone knows that we are engaged in seemingly endless Asian wars–but now, thanks to the election, they are *bipartisan* wars… and *bipartisan* showdowns over nuts with nukes.  We’ve got plenty of moving parts.  I think one could say we’ve got sufficient or “critical” mass to call this the beginning of a 4T.  The next two or three years must be watched closely.  The crucial question, if indeed the 4T is underway, is determining when the “regeneracy” phase of the 4T will begin.

On the question of dating the Homelanders.  Let’s assume the Millennials are a 23-year-long generation (perfectly plausible: one year shorter than the GIs, one year longer than the Xers).  That would put their last birth year at 2004.  Which means the first Homelander birth year is 2005.  Let’s now assume that 2008 marks an extended period (ten “lost years” or more) of very poor economic performance–with high unemployment, low capacity and consumer confidence, stagnant global trade, etc..  That would precisely mark the Homeland Generation as the generation having no memory of the Great Boom.  All Millennials will recall at least some childhood during the zany ’90s and early oughts; Homelanders not.  Exactly in the same manner that all G.I.s could later recall at least some childhood during the Roaring Twenties–but the Silent (born 1925-1942) (born starting in 1925–the oldest were turning four at the Great Crash) could not.

In presentations I do for K-12 teachers and administrators, I am starting to spend more time talking about the Homelanders (they may now be in preschool–and will soon be entering grammar school).  And yes they have all the early markings of the Artist archetype.  They are heavily protected by their Gen-X moms and dads, who overwhelmingly believe they are raising their kids in a more hands-on, interventionist, kid-safety-comes-first style than they themselves were raised.  Just like the Lost Generation, who discovered the behavioralist child-rearing guru John Watson, so too are Xers parents deep into the behavioralism of child-care guides filled with “do’s and dont’s” rules.  In our recent book “Millennials and K-12 Schools” (2008), we have a small chapter on the Homelanders.  Every day we are expanding our insights.  I hope sometime soon to write a longer column on them for all of you.

It’s getting late.  Anyway, thanks again for being here.  Last weekend I did a three-hour radio show on Coast-to-Coast AM (11 PM to 2 AM Pacific Time), and I was extremely grateful, in the last hour, to get a great number of phonecalls from Boomer (born 1943-1960) and Gen-Xers around the country who first read our books in the early ’90s and have been following us ever since.  This was my fourth or fifth show for them–and they will probably soon have me on as a regular (rough hours I know!).  I hope to meet you on one of these show.  In any case, I can truthfully say that it’s your curiosity, your enthusiasm, and the sharing of your own experiences that has always made this worthwhile for both of us–Bill, while he was still with us, and myself for as long as I am around.

Oct 262009

I’m talking about the Homelander Generation (born 200? – 202?) . And I mean—literally—silent in the case of this article about using sign language in the classroom.

Let’s glimpse ahead 15 years… to K-12 classrooms where every kid is polite, sensitive to the needs of others, and unwilling to “disrupt” classroom flow for a mere personal request. Another Silent (born 1925-1942) generation in the making?

Oct 012009

This recent article in the New York Times by Alfie Kohn caught my eye. First let me say that I really don’t agree with this well-known progressive educator. His thesis (“unconditional parenting”) is that a parent should be equally approving of his/her child regardless of the child’s behavior. My opinion? Parents cannot act this way—unless they have a heart of stone and are utterly indifferent as to how the child grows up and who the child becomes. Most parents who *think* they raise their kids unconditionally simply try to repress their hopes and desires and hope their kids don’t notice how the parent really feels. But kids always notice.

That said, I do agree with an important observation Kohn makes early on. He says that explicitly behavioral/conditional parenting strategies are gaining in popularity. We have long made this prediction about Generation X (born 1961-1981) parenting—and have pointed out the emergence of it in other contexts. Gen-Xers care less about how perfect their kids really are on the inside (no Bill Bennett’sBook of Virtues” for them), but they care a lot more about whether their kids behave in ways and acquire habits that maximize their long-term odds of success.

The Homeland Generation is already gestating.

Note: The Homeland Generation (Born 2005-?), now entering pre-school, will include the babies born between now and the mid-2020s. Their always-on-guard nurturing style will be substantially set by Gen-x parents, legislators, and media producers, who are already gaining a reputation for extreme sheltering.

Aug 182009

You may like this ad, or just find it creepy. But it does dramatize the society-wide fantasy of watching Millennial (born 1982-200?) lead a totally sheltered and planned life.

In certain respects, in fact, this is a “Homelander” (the generation to follow the Millennials) commercial before its proper time.  The protectiveness is not portrayed as the result of passionate and committed Boomer (born 1943-1960) parents—but rather as the result of a new “system” that works to protect everyone automatically. The parents’ (midlife Generation X (born 1961-1981)) role is portrayed as a newfangled system that does  its job and waves goodbye. This is more like the attitude we expect during the upcoming First Turning (the High), rather than the current Fourth Turning (Crisis).