Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Parenting: it's different these days

I was born at the tail end of the 1970s, so I grew up throughout the 1980s, in all their neon, side-ponytailed glory. While a lot of the toys and fashions are coming back (in a ploy to get the 80s-raised moms to buy for their kids), parenting seems awfully different these days.

Five ways my parenting differs from my childhood:

(1) Stranger Danger
Sure, there were bad guys in the 1980s. But it seemed so much safer back then. My sister and I would play outside alone without my mom having to hover over our heads. I could jump on my bike, kick up the kickstand, and fly down the road bouncing on the big banana seat, as much as three streets over to my friend's house. Today, even in my small cul-de-sac neighborhood of only a few homes, I will not let Amelia play without an adult at least outdoors, listening and making sure no strange cars pass through. It is a different world - and I live in big city suburbs now too, not the quiet of a small city in Tennessee.

(2) Electronics
I wanted to spend most every free moment playing outdoors (throughout the elementary school years, at least). We had an Intellivision video game system... really, we did. No Atari for us! We played Snafu and Burgertime often, but it didn't have the lure that the electronics have these days. Now we need to limit iPad time and convince our child to go outside and be a kid.

(3) Cleanliness
I don't know if it was selective child memory or what, but Our Bowie was always neat and tidy. Maybe not my room or playroom, but at least all the main living spaces were for the most part, clutter-free. Seriously, no clue how my mother made this happen. I just hope Amelia remembers the few moneys of neat and tidy at our house... instead of the usual cluttered chaos.

(4) Vehicle Safety
The days of five-point harnesses and strict car seat rules did not apply to the kids of the 1980s. I remember long road trips up interstate 81, pillows pressed against the door, legs up on the seat. Or when my sister and I wanted to really stretch out (without touching each other), I made myself a bed on the floor of the backseat. It wasn't a huge taboo back then. Remember the pop-up backseat of station wagons? My cousins had one; it was exciting to ride in the back, unbelted, staring at the faces of trucks a few feet behind. Yeah... super safe. I am glad my children are safer than I was, and I am equally glad that I survived to bring them into the world.

(5) Water Guns
Back in the day, water guns were little plastic things with a water hole that required a lot of patience as the water drop, drip, dropped inside as it filled. Then the fight was on; with a little squirt, squirt, eeeeeek! Run! (Yawn.) Have you seen the water gun monstrosities these days?! You can go from dry to drenched in about 2.5 seconds via a rainbow-colored, double-tank mega soaker. Today's kids have all the fun, don't they?

- - -
Linked up to Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop
Prompt inspiration: 5 ways your parenting differs from your parents 


  1. So true!! I remember playing outside unsupervised (GASP)! Never would happen for my girls!

  2. I won't even let my kid go out in the backyard without me eyeballing him!

  3. Can so relate! My children were born in the 70's and 80's and they all did the same things you mentioned, except for the games. Twenty years earlier, I did most of the same things, as well. Boy, how well I remember riding in the station wagon, in the very back, and watching all the cars behind us. No seat belts! We survived, thank goodness. I still consider those the "good old days".

    Today I worry about my grandchildren and their safety. You can't seem to trust people, not even in your own neighborhood. Seems like stranger danger increases with each passing year.

  4. I remember sitting on the center console when my mom drove the car. You know that it was the best seat?
    I too remember being allowed to play all around the neighborhood without close supervision.
    Do you remember those popeye cigarette candies? Now they removed the red "lit" end so they're just candy sticks.
    oh times sure have changed.

  5. Loved your post and the memories it brought back. I raised my kids during the 80's and 90's. Car seats weren't even invented until I had my 4th child. When I was a kid we had a station wagon with a pop up seat in the back and even worse we rode in the back of a truck all the time. Stopping by from mama kats kelley at the road goes ever ever on

  6. I was born 10 years earlier, so I remember the 70's and 80's very well! We'd walk to 7-11 alone, at 8 and 9 years old and think nothing of it. And we spent all summer playing outside or playing cards inside if it was too hot. Those were the days!

  7. lol I too was born in the late 70s and remember biking with no protective gear, sleeping in the back of the car on road trips, and having a curfew that was enforced by sheer fear of punishment... there were no cellphones to remind me. We did a lot more outdoorsy stuff for sure. I think kids today don't know what they're missing... yet again, they will probably feel the same about the next generation. Loved this post... brought so many great memories.

  8. lol I too was born in the late 70s and I remember sleeping in the back of the car on trips, no seatbelts, biking or skating with no protective gear, remembering to stick to my curfew on my own, no cellphones, lots of play outdoors. I see kids today and think I had it better but then I think that they are probably going to think the same thing about the next generation. This post was so great and took me back to some great memories.

  9. The stranger thing...super duper true!

    And, the screen time. But, they go hand in hand in a way. Because they can't go outside without us and yet we have things we need to get done inside. It's a catch 22 for sure!

    And, yes, we rolled around the back of a Suburban without seatbelts. It's so scary to think about now!


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