Parenting in the 1970s and 1980s vs. Parenting Today

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I recently came across an article that asked a series of interesting questions: How much of your parenting style is based on how your parents raised you? Is it still appropriate today? Personally, I’ve found that I utilize many of the “old school” values that my mum and dad instilled in me for my children. Their parenting style was definitely more hands-off than mine, but it wasn’t because they didn’t care; that was just the norm at the time.

Here’s a list of five differences between how I was raised and how I raise my children.

1. Unsupervised Play

When I was a kid, it was the ’70s and ’80s and we played hard! You rarely heard about kids being abducted or creepers hanging around the school. We would tell our parents that we were “going outside to play,” and would return home only to eat lunch and dinner. As a parent today, I wouldn’t even dream about allowing my children to disappear all day without knowing where they were and having a cell phone to check in with. I’m not a hovering kind of parent, but society seems to have changed.

2.  Danger

I don’t know about you, but there were several times when I was riding my big wheel or bike down a mountain where, looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t break every bone in my body and knock a few teeth out! I didn’t wear a helmet, but I’m still alive!

3. Discipline and Obedience

In the 70’s, my mum was the disciplinarian. My dad worked all day and traveled, so she had to keep four kids in line somehow. Her choice instrument of intimidation was the wooden spoon. I’ve spanked my children, but I couldn’t imagine using an object to do so.

4. Grounding and Consequences

When I did something wrong as a kid, my parents would ground me. That could come in all kinds of terrible manifestations, like missing a fun party or not being able to play Atari for a week. Like my parents, I too take away privileges as a consequence and maybe even add in an extra chore, just for good measure.

5. Hands-Off Approach

For the most part, my parents took a hands-off approach to child rearing. “Did you do your homework?” was about the extent of their involvement in my schooling. They attended parent-teacher conferences, which back then were mandatory, but mostly you just did your homework without supervision. Nowadays, I help my children with their homework and monitor their progress. We also have regular conversations about college and a plan to help them succeed.

Children in the ’70s and ’80s were mostly expected to be responsible for things such as homework and being on time. When your parents said to be home by 7 p.m., you knew to be home by 7 p.m. (or there would be consequences). Holding us accountable and having not only the fear of God instilled in us, but the fear of authority, really had a lot to do with how we turned out. I hold my children to a high standard of responsibility and, so far, it’s paying off.