Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parenting Then and Now

I grew up in the 70s and 80s.  As if you couldn’t tell.


My daughter says that I was so cute that
all the boys probably loved me.
Yeah, that's right.

My parents were junior high school sweethearts who got married soon after high school.  They had kids, built a life and never looked back.

Total. Babes.

Still babes.

I remember my childhood well.  It was a good one.  I didn’t suffer at the hands of abusive parents or family members, save for my brothers and I beating up on each other from time to time. We had lots of family and friends who lived close by.  We had enough of everything we needed.

It was a good, simple life – a great way to grow up.

It is this childhood that largely influences the way I parent my kids today.  Except for a few modern-day differences and new information, I am mindful of my memories and draw upon them when I am faced with a parenting challenge or question.  Although they were incredibly young and likely did this parenting thing by the seat of their pants, what would my parents have done in the situations that I face?

Try as I might, I cannot realistically parent the same ways they can.  I can for a lot of things – the needs of children haven’t changed so much in forty years.  But the world has changed in ways that don’t allow for a carbon copy of parenting techniques.  Parenting styles of the 1970s and 1980s don't always make sense in the 2000s.

So although I’ve tried to use my parents’ example to guide my own parenting life, I’ve still done a lot of things differently.  Here are five:

I’m an older parent than they were.  Sort of.  My mother was twenty years old when she had my brother.  She had me at 21.  She had my little brother when she was 29.  I had our son when I was 27 and our daughter just one week shy of 30.  I was not mother material before age 27.  I know this because pictures of what I was doing between 20 and 27 and pictures of what my mother was doing during those ages are vastly different.

I don’t smoke in the house.  The perils of exposing children to secondhand smoke are now well-documented, and I remember falling asleep to the smell of smoke wafting up the stairs from my dad’s cigarettes as he made work calls from the little desk in our kitchen.  Every holiday was tinged with the familiar scent, every get-together.  We don’t have friends or relatives who smoke anymore, but when I was young someone was always flicking a cigarette.  We didn’t even think about it then; I can’t imagine how our children would react if all of the adults suddenly lit up at a dinner party.

I don’t use daycare.   My mom stayed at home, like most mothers at the time, and when I became pregnant, I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do, too.  However, my parents owned their own business, and my mom started working in the office around the time my younger brother was born.  So they hired teenagers in the summer and found a friend to care for my younger brother in her home while my older brother and I were in school in the winter.

We are more hands-on.  I’ll never forget calling up my mom, worrying about the age at which children these days need to use deodorant.  I was concerned with body hair, age of puberty onset, normal age of body changes, and on and on and on.  Our kids are so young! I gasped.  When did we start all that?  I wanted to know.  My mom hesitated before replying, “Well, I don’t know!  I wasn’t up you kids’ butts the way parents today are up their kids’ butts!  Who knows when you started using deodorant?  I never even noticed!”  Huh.  Point taken. 

We talk about uncomfortable subjects.  In my day parents just didn’t talk about certain things with their kids.  Sex and drugs weren’t mentioned, and parents didn’t share deep thoughts.  In our house, we all talk about every subject imaginable and my husband and I field questions from our kids that I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking my own parents.  In addition, we share big plans, money issues, and how we screwed up in the past.  Maybe we share too much, but I can’t imagine being less open with my kids.



How do you parent differently than your parents did?

Do you think you do a better or worse job, or is it just different?

*******

This post inspired by:


Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #5: List 5 ways you are different as a parent than your parents were.


23 comments:

  1. Stopping over from Mama Kat's Writing Prompts. I liked your post about how you parent differently. I also had everything I ever wanted and lived with wonderful parents who loved me very much. It is fun to reflect back on how I parent different than they did. It is not really a "I am Never going to do that" mentality anymore as it is more of a "this works for me!"

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    1. I had that feeling when I was writing this, too, Ruth! There's nothing in my upbringing that causes me to sigh in relief that those days are past and never need to be repeated. So nice to hear that others had great parents and memories of their own childhoods. I feel like we only hear the bad stuff sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I love this! IT's true - we cannot recreate the laid-back parenting style of the 70's and 80's because we KNOW WAY TOO MUCH!

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    1. Wow, isn't that the truth? Laid back is right (as I recall our 9-year-old babysitter). :)

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  3. I think we grew up in the same smoke-filled house. Your mom's quote is priceless!

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    1. Ha ha, thanks! She really made me stop and think when she said that. As if any knowledge of knowing when things are coming will change the reality of our kids growing up. Back then they really lived in the moment.

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  4. I grew up in a smoke filled house, too. It grosses me our - I cannot handle the smell now and to think I was around it 24-7!?

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    1. My dad didn't smoke around us during the day, but he always did at work. Such a strong memory, and yes, I agree, how did we stand those smoke-filled places everywhere we went? We didn't even think about it.

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  5. OMGosh Andrea...we grew up the same way and now raise our kids the same way...I feel like I wrote this...lol. Yes, so different now a days than when we were raised!

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    1. Right? I did my best to try and adapt my parents' ways to my own kids, but they don't always work out. Doesn't take away from the memories, though...

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  6. Makes you wonder how the next generation will raise their kids lol - I'm loving these "parenting then/now" posts... such good memories. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in. I wonder what my kids will choose to change about how they raise their own kids - if they even have them, that is.

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  7. My style is definitely nowhere near my parents' hands off ways!

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    1. Evidently mine is more hands-on, too. :)

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  8. Crazy how taboo smoking ANYWHERE has become and I'm glad for it! I remember many smoke filled car rides with my aunt...I can't imagine the horrified looks someone would get for that now with kids in the car.

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    1. Right? My Grandma used to keep a lit cigarette in her bedroom when we'd have holiday gatherings. She disappear for a minute or two and take a puff throughout the visit. It never fazed me. If I did that in our house the children would be crazed lunatics: IS SOMETHING BURNING?!?!?!?

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  9. While I didn't have a childhood like yours, I felt the same emotions that somehow our parenting techniques are vastly different. I like to think I have more on the ball with my own kids but who knows?
    It's more your delivery that makes me eat up your words. You have a beautiful family.

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    1. Thanks, Kir. I feel like my mom had it more together than I do, especially on busy days. I have no idea - maybe my kids will remember me as Super Mom, too, even on days that I don't feel like it at all.

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  10. Amazing. I think about this very topic all the time- and save for the daycare, all of your differences are mine, too. OMG the cigarettes! My mom smoked 24-7 in our house. I love your family photo, btw, talk about total babes.

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    1. Awww, thanks. Most of us must have all been brought up similarly. How will our kids remember their childhoods? "My mom wouldn't let me play outside by myself until I was twelve." "Oh, really? I was fifteen!"

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  11. Well I'm not a mom yet but I share the same sort of upbringing as you and it was pretty great! My mom was also 21 when she had me and that's something I can't imagine! We lived around a lot of family growing up and I really lived having all my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents around. I'm a nanny now and most of my families really have no one around to help care for their kids. It's just a different world now. People move away from their families more often. I also loved being able to play outside all day long with no supervision and my parents never had to worry about us being abducted. Can't do that in most places these days anymore!

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