We all know parenting has changed in the past 30 years. Gone are the days of riding without a car seat in the front row of the station wagon. Gone is the trust to let your 6-year-old wait in the car as you run into the gas station for 2 minutes to grab some milk. Hello to the Internet, with its plethora of knowledge within a single finger swipe.
Just for fun, I talked to a bunch of older moms and dads about what parenting was like when their kids were little, verses what they think it’s like now. These are some of the highlights:
“We didn’t have the car seat laws. The seats we had were not as fancy and sturdy as the ones we have now. Which means they probably weren’t as safe. But they were easier to use and install, that’s for sure!” –Katherine J.
“I’m so glad I wasn’t in the Pinterest generation because there weren’t any worries about comparing if I didn’t do a big, fancy birthday party for my kid. The Internet is nice to be able to look up questions but when it comes to how easy it is to see how other mom’s parent, I’m glad I didn’t have that accessibility. There’s a new level of mommy guilt for today’s parents.” –Ricki G.
“As far as parenting techniques, I think there was a lot more spanking back then. A lot more corporal punishment that most parents used and people didn’t look down or threaten to call CPS if you swatted your kid’s butt.” –Ricki G.
“I know there are a lot differences in the world today verses 30 years ago but there are similarities, too. Mommy guilt was just as much of a thing back then as it is now. Maybe on a different scale, but it was still there, especially for working moms. Back then, the epitome of a perfect home was if dad worked and mom stayed home with the kids and it’s not necessarily like that now. But the underlying guilt for having to work away from your kids will hit any parent of any generation.” –Maureen T.
“Well, back when I was a young father, you’d NEVER see a changing table in the men’s restroom. Today, you still don’t see enough of them but at least sometimes they are available. I love that I now have a place to change my grandson’s diaper that’s not on the bathroom floor, like I used to do when his father was a baby.” –Wes A.
“There were no gender reveal parties. Some people did get ultrasounds but they weren’t as clear and reliable as they are now.” –Thomas G.
“There was an overwhelming mentality that we were not “friends” with our kids. We were their parents and when we told them ‘no,’ we meant it. I think parents today give in more, or use other parenting styles that didn’t have a label back in my day.” -Adam R.
“I was an older mom when I had my daughter; I was 38. So I think I knew more of who I was when I had her back then, and that helped. I also went back to work after six months so there was someone else taking care of her all day long. There was some guilt but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it because I knew who I was before I had her. That’d be my advice to new moms today: know who you are and don’t let yourself get swept up in what you can’t control.” –Chris M.
“I really envy you guys having the Internet now. And cell phones, with their GPS and YouTube. Those would’ve made my parenting, and my life, so much easier 28 years ago!” –Sammy H.
“We didn’t have mobile phones when my kids were growing up. I had to trust where they said they were going and wait to hear from them after they go there, not during the trip. I can’t keep track of all the apps out there now that let you spy on your kid through their phone. Even though it’s there doesn’t mean you should use it, ya know? Trust your parenting, trust your kids.” –Taylor C.
“You young parents are so distracted by your cell phones now. I used to bring a book with me to my kid’s karate lesson and if I got bored waiting, I struck up conversations with other waiting parents. But parents today use their phones to socialize, I guess. And miss out on the world around them, sometimes.” –Linda K.
“I miss our movie nights, the way they used to be. Today, you just press a few buttons on your TV and you can search for a movie but back in my day, I loved taking my kids to a VHS store to search for a family flick. Then, they’d beg my to get some candy as we checked our rental out. That whole family movie night process took longer and involved more time together.” –Dan P.
“I see my friend’s daughter in law struggle in some aspects of motherhood because she wasn’t taught the things I was in my generation. My mother taught me how to sew and cook and to do other very useful, day-to-day tasks. In a way, I learned to love the chores I’d end up doing later as a parent. That way, when the day came that I was a stay at home mom, I didn’t struggle to love it like many young moms do now. Maybe that was a generational or societal thing but it was beneficial. Now, my friend’s daughter-in-law is always “looking for herself” outside of her kids and it makes her discontented with her life. Society and women’s roles are changing and in some ways, I think it’s making it harder to be a mom now.” –Cheryl W.
While there are still parental consistencies across generations, there’s no doubt that parenting a kid of any age in 2019 is different than it was 30 years ago. If you are a parent of grown kids, what else would you add to this conversation?