Things You Shouldn’t Say To Younger Generations (Unless You Want To Sound Old)

Things You Shouldn’t Say To Younger Generations (Unless You Want To Sound Old)

The world changes fast, and sometimes the way we communicate gets stuck in the past. While bridging generational gaps is important, certain phrases guarantee that eye roll from your kids, nieces, nephews, or younger coworkers. You have to be willing to let go of the outdated lingo and learn how to connect with the next generation on their terms.

1. “Back in my day…” launches a cringe-worthy story.

We get it, times were different, but starting every story this way is a surefire way to get eye rolls. Instead, try asking them about their experiences; you might be surprised by what you learn. Let’s face it, we probably bored our elders with the same kind of stories when we were young! Anyway, the generation gap isn’t as wide as you think it is, The Guardian notes.

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2. “You kids and your technology…” is a classic eye roll inducer.

Yes, younger people are glued to their screens, but guess what? We were obsessed with something back in the day too (Walkman, anyone?). Embrace the fact that tech is different now; it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Plus, half the time, they’re probably schooling us on new apps and shortcuts we didn’t even know existed!

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3. “You’re too young to be tired/stressed/sad.” Nope.

Everyone experiences ups and downs, regardless of age. Dismissing someone’s feelings just because they’re young is super uncool. Offer support, not judgment. Sometimes a listening ear is far more helpful than unsolicited advice.

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4. “Figure it out yourself!” is not the helpful advice you think it is.

While we want to encourage independence, sometimes younger people genuinely need guidance. Instead of leaving them hanging, offer a few starting points, then let them try to problem-solve. It’s all about striking that balance between offering help and encouraging their ability to figure things out themselves. Asking questions, listening, and empathizing are great ways to provide support, Healthline notes.

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5. “What does that even mean?” about slang is a dead giveaway.

New slang pops up faster than mushrooms! Instead of openly mocking it, try, “That’s new to me, can you explain?” You might learn something fun and bridge the generation gap. Who knows, you might even adopt a few new phrases to spice up your own vocabulary!

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6. “It builds character!” minimizes their struggle.

We went through hard stuff too, but that doesn’t negate someone else’s challenges. Validate their feelings and offer support instead of brushing off their experiences. A little empathy goes a long way in building trust and open communication.

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7. “This generation is so sensitive!” is unfair.

Younger generations are more open about things like mental health and social issues, and that’s awesome! Sensitivity isn’t weakness; it’s showing empathy and awareness. Instead of judging, try listening and understanding their perspectives.

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8. “Why are you dressed like that?” kills their sense of style.

Fashion changes! Instead of criticizing their funky outfits, try to see it as self-expression. Remember, you probably had some questionable fashion choices too back in the day. Who’s to say their bold looks won’t be considered ‘vintage cool’ in a few decades?

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9. “This music is just noise!” hurts more than you think.

We all have music preferences, but trashing their favorite tunes is straight-up disrespectful. Try asking them, “What do you like about this?” You might get a cool insight into their world. Besides, maybe their playlist has a few hidden gems you’d actually like!

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10. “In my day, we didn’t have [insert thing] and we were fine.”

Progress is a good thing! Just because you did something the hard way doesn’t mean they have to. Celebrate how far we’ve come instead of being bitter about it. Maybe they’ll even teach you some cool new ways to use the technology you didn’t grow up with! Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love having instant food delivery and the ability to look up any random fact in seconds?

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11. “This political correctness stuff is ridiculous!” shuts down conversation.

Younger folks often care deeply about social justice. Instead of scoffing, try to understand why it matters to them. You might learn something new! Besides, a little respect and sensitivity towards others never goes out of style. And who knows, their passion might inspire you to get involved with causes you care about too.

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12. “That’s not a real job!” about new career paths is dismissive.

YouTuber? Influencer? Sure, these jobs didn’t exist before, but they’re very real now. Show interest in what they do, instead of writing it off as silly. They may surprise you with the hard work and skills that go into building a career in these new fields. Honestly, wouldn’t you rather see them chasing their dreams than stuck in a job they hate?

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13. “Kids these days don’t know hard work!” is probably false.

Younger people work hard, just maybe in different ways than we’re used to. Acknowledge their efforts instead of making unfair assumptions. Balancing side hustles, online courses, and maybe even traditional jobs is no easy feat! They’re facing a tough job market and uncertain future, so cut ’em some slack.

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14. “You need to [insert life advice]!” is a bit pushy.

They’ll figure out their own path, even if it involves a few mistakes. Offer advice only if asked, not as an unsolicited lecture. Remember, sometimes the best lessons come from figuring things out firsthand. Trust that you raised them well (or that they’re smart enough to learn from others!).

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15. “I can’t with this generation!” shows you’re not even trying.

This negativity helps no one. Instead of writing them off, focus on building bridges of understanding and respect. You’d be surprised how much common ground you can find if you’re willing to listen and learn. Every generation says this about the next – it’s practically tradition!

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16. Any phrase that starts with “When I was your age…”

Just… try not to, okay? We know you mean well, but it often seems preachy and out of touch. Focus on sharing your experiences in a way they can relate to, instead of making it all about yourself. Maybe try framing it as, “I had a similar experience once, and this is what I did….”

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17. “You’ll understand when you’re older.” is super patronizing.

They understand plenty! Instead of dismissing their views, try having a two-way conversation. You might be surprised by their insights. And hey, maybe they’ll teach you a thing or two along the way! The best relationships are built on mutual respect, regardless of age.

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18. “You have it so easy!” ignores modern struggles.

Each generation has its own unique challenges. Instead of assuming their life is a breeze, try having an open conversation about what difficulties they face. The pressures of social media, the gig economy, climate change – these are real issues they deal with that we might not fully understand. Plus, every generation has its own version of dealing with difficult parents, heartbreak, and finding their place in the world.

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Gail is Bolde's social media and partnership manager, as well as an all-around behind-the-scenes renaissance woman. She worked for more than 25 years in her city's local government before making the switch to women's lifestyle and relationship sites, initially at HelloGiggles before making the switch to Bolde.