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