I have always felt like I was a bridge person. Most of my relationships in life have been with people older than myself. My siblings are much older than I am, my boyfriends and husbands have all been older than me. And I seem to connect with older people in my business. I was born in 1964 the last year to be considered a baby boomer. I understand that mindset with all its strengths, idiosyncrasies, and nuances. But I also feel a strong connection to the Gen X vibe.
This dual citizenship, so to speak, is such a gift for an organizer.
Because of my age I’ve lived some life. I grew up in a hoarder home, I went through my own period of collecting things and learning to let them go, I’ve liquidated my parents’ estate, I’ve had to move them into a senior living facility, and I’ve experienced their deaths. I’ve seen the role that our stuff plays in our lives in each stage.
As this huge group of Baby Boomers age, more and more of their Gen X children are having to make all those difficult life decisions. It helps them – and their parents to have support from someone who understands both perspectives.
And they ARE different. It’s no secret that Boomers have a lot of stuff, and that their children don’t want it. That can be hard to navigate in a relationship. For the Boomer parent there is great meaning and memory attached to their possessions so the rejection of them feels like a rejection of all they have lived and wanted to give to their kids. For the Gen X child, it’s like being shackled with things that have no meaning and being made to feel guilty for not wanting them.
There are plenty of Gen Xers that are sentimental keepers. In fact, in every couple, regardless of the generation, there is a keeper and a discarder. But as a whole Gen Xers want to make their own memories and need fewer place holders for them. In many cases the Gen X child has attached a negative meaning to their parents’ possessions. To one they are an indication of success, accomplishment, and a good life. To the other they are often symbols of excess, self-medication, and shallowness.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Having a dual empathy means translating between the two generations. Helping each to see the perspective of the other. It can be a source of healing. And it can make the decluttering process less painful.
For the Boomer to cherish the memories and have fewer place holders. For the Gen Xer to spend some time listening to the stories and appreciating the life that was lived. Both take effort and intent to change, but it can make all the difference. As a 50+ organizer you have a special ability to make decluttering for Baby Boomers AND Gen X a meaningful experience. Celebrate your superpower!