I am 64 and seem to be a member of the youth-centered Baby Boom generation. At 14 I rejected the lifestyle and mind-set of my parents. All they were asking of me was to absorb and adopt their well thought out opinions and values which I was fed up with.

 

My Parents were Good People

They had been raised as privileged whites in the Southern United States and in their early 20’s rejected their parent’s world. They committed to changing the way things were. They sought out new allies quite different from the folks they had been raised with.

My father’s epiphany came when he personally witnessed the aftermath of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan. He realized that the establishment he had believed in was not always right, in fact they needed to be challenged. And he did for the rest of his life.

My mother’s was a more gradual awakening. She knew that lynching and other forms of terror in the South were being done to Black men in her name. So, she consciously sought out friendships with other like-minded people of both races and became an anti-lynching activist. It cost her some family and friends.

So, what’s not to like?

Why did I reject my parent’s ways?

Because I was too young to know I didn’t know it all?

 

Don’t Throw the Baby out with the Bathwater

One of the most harmful things I’ve witnessed, again and again, is the tendency of youth to throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater. They see their Elders faults, and unkindly and thoughtlessly reject-the-old-folks-ways.

So, if you want to reject that which came before you what do you lose?

You lose the wisdom, skills and experiences that have been shared from time immemorial.

The wheel has already been invented, so has midwifery, the healing arts, guitars, and abilities to repair and build machinery.

 

Belittling our Point of View

The final insult that our youth-centered culture offers is to belittle and speak-down to older adults.

We may think a little more slowly than those with younger brains. However, we get the gist of what’s going on around us much more quickly.

 

Stand up to Bullies

We need to stand up to youth-centered bullying that unintentionally robs us of dignity. Teach people to replace the ill-informed habits of calling us “miss”, “little lady”, “sweetie,” “dear”.

When we are negotiating for services we need some respect.

One area of great importance is the way health care professionals speak to us. Usually this is right in moments when we most need our wits about us; at a doctor’s office or when we are in pain and need to be listened to.

Let them know we are full persons.

 

Read this Interview with Mary Buzzel: Personhood Advocate

Read this article on The Negative Effects of Elderspeak