34 People Start Discussing How Their Boomer Parents Are Becoming Meaner

Probably the most important thing we can do in life is grow a thriving social network of people we deeply care for and treat with respect. However, relationships and friendships need to be nurtured—they won’t survive on their own. Unfortunately, some people forget this.

The members of the r/Millennials online community recently opened up about a very sensitive topic. They revealed how much meaner their parents have begun acting as they age. You’ll find their candid personal stories as you read on.


My Silent Gen mom gets meaner and more passive aggressive by the day. She’s angry and social media keeps her raging, afraid, and marinating in conspiracy theories. I rue the day I ever got her an iPad and set up a FB account. It’s utterly tragic.

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This thread makes me feel lucky my dad is just a normal 65 year old boomer with dumb quirks and habits but not insanity.

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For all the talk they make about "We didn't have all these screens when we were your age," I think social media is wreaking havoc on the older generation as much as the younger.

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Research has unequivocally shown how vital it is to have a thriving social life. An 80-year Harvard study, currently run by Dr. Robert Waldinger, has shown that the foundations of leading a good, long, and happy life are made up of our close relationships and social connections.

To put it simply, our positive relationships act like a buffer from whatever stress life throws our way. This leads to better overall health, helps reduce our cognitive decline, and affords us better protection against diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Aside from making us feel good and making life feel meaningful, our relationships have a very direct impact on our health.


My parents get softer and nicer as they age.

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I work in retail and see this all the time with boomers. They’re all reasonably nice people for the exception of some. But what's really interesting is the commonality they share when it comes to something not going exactly right. Unlike other generations, every single one of them have this tendency to get super flustered like it's the end of the world if there's a minor price difference or if their coupon isn't eligible.

And what's shocking is that both my parents are exactly the same. Totally chill and great to be around...until something doesn't go according to plan. That's when the stress kicks in and everything falls apart. It's like some weird autistic thing.

My take, though? It's the erosion of Western civilization that has them all worked up. I mean, think about it. In their entire lives, every year was always better than the last, especially when it came to retail service. But somewhere along the line, we peaked and now we're falling and this is reflected in the quality of service you see in retail. They grew up expecting a certain quality of life overall and now they're experiencing faults left and right but because they’re experiencing this at an older age, it's much harder for them to cope and adapt.

Whereas people in my generation or younger grew up either at the peak, itself or around the downward slope, so we grew up with the erosion, which makes it easier for us to deal with things like poor service or just something going wrong.

Yeeeeah, the one benefit to stocking shelves all day is that it gives you so much time to observe and contemplate. So I've had a lot of time to think about this lol

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My mother has gotten more and more childish as she aged. She's 73 now and her emotional maturity clocks in at about a teenager. Burned so many bridges with her children and friends. Entitled, lacking empathy, and super judgmental (while saying she's not at all!) Sometimes I wonder if our parents are changing or we all just grew up and are able to see that they were always this way.

Edit: Rereading the question, I want to add that my grandmother was decidedly not this way. The difference was that she had a strong community of peers and local institutions around her and way too old (born 1920) to have gotten sucked into the digital age.

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According to Dr. Waldinger, people must be proactive when it comes to their social lives, instead of letting their friendships ‘happen.’ “The people who were most successful at this didn’t just leave it to chance,” he said that folks ought to nurture their relationships in person. 

Failing to do so has a deeply negative impact on people’s quality of life. This is why we have to take care of our friendships.

The CDC reports that social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, addiction, dementia, and self-harm.


My mom is in her 70s now. We ( rest of the family) are cajoling her to start testing with a neurologist, we think it's dementia but maybe it was strokes. Rage is part of it.

I believe there are tons of issues but it's more than "Boomers being fools" but one of them is if medical advancements were where they were at 30 years ago they'd be dead. Obviously some people were always mean but had more social inhibition, some of this is mental decline. On top of untreated anxiety, depression etc. then all the lead and all the rage bait media.

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My husband says his parents have always been like "this", they just used to pretend with outsiders. Now they don't. It's truly like a monster thinking it's wearing their mask but the damn thing has peeled off a long time ago.....

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Funny enough, my parents started off nasty and have mellowed out with age and economic stabilty.

My dad is your classic boomer narcissist but dementia has made him outright pleasant to be around. Its like he forgets to be an a*****e.

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No matter how you spin it, proper friendships are about creating a give-and-take relationship centered on respect, generosity, reciprocity, and support. Real friends have your back no matter what, through thick and thin. On the flip side, fake friends are often only there for you when times are good. However, when you’re in need of a helping hand or emotional support, they’re nowhere to be found.

What are your thoughts on the topic, dear Pandas? Have you noticed changes in the way your parents treat other people as they age? Have you ever struggled with loneliness or social isolation yourselves? If you feel like opening up a bit, you can do so in the comments.


I'm going through something extremely hard right now and had to inform my parents. Their lack of emotional understanding and support is so apparent and astounds me compared to the two friends and two siblings I reached out to and who have been so helpful and supportive. I don't understand how I could have such helpful siblings while my parents are so useless and out of touch. But honestly my parents never were very nice to begin with.

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Something similar has happened/is happening to my parents, my wife’s parents, and almost all of my friend’s parents. Whenever the topic of parents comes up, I always ask my friends if their parents have started going crazy, and the answer is almost always yes. It seems to hit in the late 50s. The worst thing is that I remember having a conversation with my mother when I was a teenager about how her mother was getting really rude and nasty to people.

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I legit said this to my dad the last time I was at their house. He sat on his phone the whole time, and I was like "that thing's going to rot your brain." and he scoffed at me, and still sat on his phone. Like, if I had a nickel for the number of times he yelled at us kids to turn off the TV growing up, I'd be rich.

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Their aging and changing is bringing out the traits they were able to repress or play down when they were younger. It's truly a nightmare

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I think people in that age bracket just suppressed their feelings and never delt with them. Now that their body is more fragile due to age they can't handle it and become grouchy and bitter.  Combined with the 24 hour news cycle and cellphones allowing unlimited unregulated access to the news cycle they never take a moment to unplug and relax, which blows the repressed feelings up. 

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I think they just didn't deal with their s**t over decades and it eats them alive. The mask slips get harder to cover 

We're seeing them as they always were, just through the lense of ourselves being adults.

I would be wary OP, you'll be next on their s**t list eventually. 

As once they push away all their past friends they will want to cannibalise their young.

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I noticed this happen with my parents and their neighbors next door. Solid friends for 7 years and then my dad flipped out one day this Fall about religion to the neighbor wife. Just blew up the relationship because he doesn't believe in God and she does.

It was very eye opening as I heard about it from the wife after a month or so and not from my parents. My dad called me to tell me not to talk to her and then went into a tirade how he and my mom have known plenty of crazy women through the years and all these women are just bat s**t.

I could not help but think that while I do love my dad, the common denominator in these relationships is him. And when the wife relayed what happened (straight from the notes she wrote directly after the event) it was 1000% how my dad has historically behaved towards me when blowing up and it had me tearing up on the phone because he had been very mellow for a long time now and I thought he had chilled out with age.

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I haven’t experienced that. I work with the geriatric population & can tell you that personality changes like this can be signs of developing dementia.

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My dad, 100%. He went from someone suggesting helping others was a sign of strength and something we should do when able—often taking unhoused people with us to get food, stopping to help injured animals he found, etc.—to someone suggesting even appearing to need help was a sign of weakness.

He became very money oriented and selfish, only reversing course when he needed something medically…then once he got it returned to form and was a monster of a person. He started making racist jokes, never had up to that point, and looking down on anyone that wasn’t living in a big house with two rental properties.

I blame Fox & Rush Limbaugh for decades of turning him into what he became. Fox was always on in his house and he listened to Rush Limbaugh religiously. I shed only one tear once he passed, and never in front of anyone.

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Up until the last year or so, I thought my parents became nasty. But now?

I think they’re just tired. They regularly babysit my niece and nephew in another state despite their parents making more than enough (at least, I think) to cover the expenses of a good babysitter…. Or to have one parent stay home.

But more tiring is the fact that I’ve been floundering around for a few years. Gotta suck having your adult child living with you and not making tangible forward and upward (and outward) progress

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My dad just complains all the time and it’s embarassing. He’s not *mean* but he is embarrassingly cantankerous.

We went to a restaurant that I’ve been going to since HS where the owner knows all of his customers by name. My dad insisted that there was a senior discount. The owner’s kid said they didn’t have that. My dad had to argue. They finally just brought him the $2 and change to make him shut up.

I kinda wanna not go out with him when I visit but then I’d have to do the cooking.

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These are the people running our country and literally every system that exists.

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Old people are grumpy, often. This is not new. I feel a little bad for them these days as life and technology change so fast it’s easy to be left behind. Every time I trouble shoot my home entertainment set up I think about how a lot of old people probably just have to say, well the sound doesn’t work until whoever can come over and fix it. Tech breakdowns can be infuriating to even young people, and tech companies have completely stopped providing support of any kind. Lots of products don’t even really have instructions anymore.

Getting old sucks, and you also have Fox News Brain. It’s no excuse for bad behavior but it may explain it.

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Having a 24hour news agency tell them how much they should be outraged about everything makes for bad company. MAGA brain rot is something that will be studied for a while assuming we don’t go all Fury Road in the next couple years.

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They maybe pretty resentful their retirement isn't working out how they hoped it would. Maybe they didn't plan it well financially. That kind of stress comes out in many different situations.

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My Mom has gotten sweeter, my Dad on the other hand, yeah, he fits this bill.

The dude used to be able to make friends with anyone and everyone regardless of religious or political beliefs. Now? He has no friends. He even cut off his own brother over a perceived slight. The smallest error or flaw and he is completely done with that person (for example, the guy at their local deli stopped giving free samples because the store changed the policy during COVID, so now if my Dad sees him at the store, he completely ignores him even though it wasn't even his decision). Now he wants to move to another state, but my mom still has dozens of friends and doesn't want to uproot just because he has burned every bridge he has had.

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Spoiler alert: cognitive decline comes for most people who live long enough

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My parents were literally always nasty but yeah it's gotten worse. My dad was jailed for domestic violence against my mom two years ago he's in his 60s.

My two uncles got into a brawl not too long ago, late/mid 50s.

Fun times lol

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What your describing sounds like narcissism. You mention they were always a bit arrogant, and list their education. Narcissist, especially grandiose ones, will often hold higher degrees or positions as they see it as their "rightful place". The dinner parties are another sign of this. Yes it's socializing, but it's also showing off. Narcissists tend to get worse as they get older because before society treated them with grandiosity they thought they deserved. But now their old people, old people who aren't treated with reverence, who don't have people snap to attention like their secretary or underlings used to when they were working. They don't have people to boss around, like they did at their jobs. So all that pent up "I gotta be in charge of someone" is gonna come out somewhere. For the unfortunate clerk they bore the brunt of that rage bc in your dad's eyes they weren't snapping to attention fast enough, or bending over backwards to kiss his butt and pamper him like he thought he deserved. He was being treated exactly how everyone else was, and more so how an old man is treated. That blow to a narcissists ego is devastating, and because their ego is so thin, and their emotional control is so fragile, they have a giant toddler tantrum.

Think back to your own childhood, were your parents excessively controlling of you or siblings, especially when out in public. Perhaps phrases like "you represent the family" were used often.

It seems the boomer generation had an exceptionally high amount of narcissists. What do you expect when life was handed to them on a silver platter. But now they are old people, in a broken economy, being served by a younger generation who is over worked, underpaid, and just dead inside from all the narcissistic boomers having adult tantrums bc the ticket printer smudged the ink. Sure this could be early dementia, but what your describing sounds more like narcissism.


I think one thing we don’t acknowledge is many older people are in constant pain of some sort.

Arthritis, gout, muscle pains and aches, etc.

I’m not saying it’s an excuse, but when you’re in chronic pain it’s hard to be chipper and cheerful. People who can be in constant pain and still be nice are extraordinary humans.

I’ve found most grouchy old people are actually in lots of pain, and aren’t necessarily evil or bad people.

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It’s because they were never good and kind people to begin with. These are the folks that complain about “political correctness” when it really means just regulating your emotions and behaviors so that you’re not a s****y person. Now that it’s socially acceptable to be less “polite”, the mask is off. 

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My mom started becoming unhinged and constantly livid with everything at about 45.  

She’s an analytical chemist with multiple degrees that specialized in HPLC work for pharmaceutical companies.  

She never had friends.  My entire childhood was listening to her rant and rave for hours while throwing s**t and chain smoking.  All her coworkers were horrible people that were in a conspiracy to undermine and fire her.  I was also trying to destroy her life in elementary-junior high school and working in conjunction with them.

 She’s 74 now and made of nothing but hate and rage. 

 That’s why she’s dying homeless on the streets.

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I think some in the older generation have never recovered from the social isolation and stress of the pandemic years.

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My mom is 60 and my dad is 70 and I haven't noticed either getting mean. If anything my mom is less mean. She was often very typical self centered boomer, gotta get mine type. I don't think her mentality has changed, but I think she's learned to be quiet sometimes. However, I have noticed other undesirable personality changes - heightened anxiety, easily frustrated, really poor communication and then being confused/frustrated I can't read her mind. I wonder if it has something to do with their generation's reluctance towards therapy? Having a toddler makes me see the similarities between the boomer generation and my child younger than 2. There's a level of emotional immaturity in my parents and in laws that is similar to my child. They never learned to work through their "big feelings" and seem to have the viewpoint that you often see in teenagers that their feelings of discomfort are a result of someone else.

I still have a grandparent and honestly she's had a similar trajectory to my mom. Lashed out a bit here and there as life got uncomfortable (I imagine the way the world changes is very uncomfortable) but realized it would negatively impact her personal relationships and walked it back.

In defense of the boomers a bit, I get grumpy sometimes too when I'm out of my comfort zone. I just think at 35 a lot more of the world is set up to be inside of my comfort zone. Last week I went to Disney with my kid and felt like everyone else knew a foreign language that I didn't speak. I spent the morning saying Disney is stupid and this place sucks before I realized it's a me problem and I'm acting like a teenager. So I get where they are coming from sometimes, I think everyone feels the impulse sometimes. It's just whether people have the coping mechanisms to ground themselves when they are spiraling. Which is where I come back to that generation's reluctance towards therapy - if they needed help figuring out coping mechanisms, most of them never got that help


My old man has one friend that he spends time with outside of work.Most of his downtime is spent watching hockey or movies.He’s only in his early 60’s,but I think I found where I got my shut-in introvert side from. He’s actually more chill with us grown kids that he was when we were growing up.