I can’t help but think that when I was growing up parents had a slighter easier job than parents do now.  It sometimes feels like our parents had more freedom to make their own parenting choices than we do.  Eighties parents versus today’s parents: Who had it easier?


eightie's parents


Car Seats

Car safety has come a long way since the eighties, but it means that these days shopping for car seats can be as overwhelming as it is trying to understand the laws on car seats. Rear facing, high backed, side impact protection, isofix, tilt and swivel.  It’s a minefield.

Eighties parents just strapped the carry cot on the back seat and let the baby roll around inside. My best friend and I used to love riding in the back of my Dad’s van.  We’d pull our brownie hats over our eyes, crouch down and then find it hilarious as we lost our balance and rolled around the back, all the while screaming at my Dad to go faster!  


Health & Safety

Loom bands are dangerous.  Fidget spinners will blind you.  Hatchimals are a ridiculously expensive waste of money.  Ok, that last one is true, but whatever the latest craze of toy, there is sure to follow a whole load of articles on why they should be banned, and how you are risking your child’s life by letting them play with one.  Heaven forbid us parents of today have any actual common sense.  

Eighties parents had no such worries.  Do I need to remind you that our parents quite happily dressed us in shell suits and sent us out to play with no regard for open flames whatsoever!


Kids TV

I may have to concede on this one and admit that eighties parents did it tough.  Whilst we grew up with classic shows such as Cities of Gold, Fraggle Rock and Dogtanian, you could only watch for a couple of hours after school.  

Nowadays we have entire channels dedicated to kids TV, yet we still moan when the kids are up before 6 and Cbeebies hasn’t started.  At least we can shove a DVD on.  When I was a kid we didn’t own a VCR until I was eight. I’m not sure how my Mum coped.  And if you don’t know what a VCR is, shut up!


eightie's parents

This is me as a baby. Technically this is 1979, not quite the eighties and explains the flock wallpaper, hideous carpet and flower power bouncy chair.  Today’s parents will struggle to find a simple bouncy chair for their baby.  Bouncy chairs now vibrate, swing and play music.  You can even have plug your ipod into one.  Soon you won’t have to hold your baby at all!


Food & Drink

Words like; organic, refined sugar, e-numbers, and allergies, didn’t seem to apply to foods in the eighties.  Today’s kids are supposed to love vegetables and cous cous, and snack on cucumber and carrot sticks.  Most of them wouldn’t know what a Findus Crispy Pancake was if it bit them on the nose.

One of my happiest childhood memories was my Dad bringing home a soda stream.  The must have kitchen gadget of the eighties, along with the deep fat fryer. We spent a week drinking gallons of fizzy drinks in all manner of flavors with no regards for sugar whatsoever.  It was probably a good thing that the gas canister ran out and was too expensive to replace! At least that’s what my Mum told me.  Looking back she may have realised the fizz was the cause of my brother and I bouncing off the walls.



Growing up holidays involved camping in various parts of the UK.  We do that now with our own kids, only we are forced to pay ridiculous amounts of money to sleep in a field in the summer holidays because we face fines or prosecution for taking our kids on holiday in term time.  

There were no such rules for eighties parents.  They didn’t give kids pencils for having good attendance in schools.  Personally I think the future success of my children depends on them receiving that pencil.  They will amount to nothing without it.



Online shopping.  Take that eighties parents.  We are doing something better than you.  We no longer have to drag our kids around the supermarket for the weekly shop.  We don’t even have to go to the supermarket.  

Do you remember how boring it was as a kid?  Making up silly walks to pass the time, holding onto the wrong trolley by mistake, loosing your Mum in the cheese aisle, begging for the Wotsits to be put in the trolley, queuing for what felt like hours.  Come to think of it, a lot of life lessons were probably learnt in the supermarket, not least patience, and the power or persuasion. Maybe eighties parents were doing it better than us after all.


Days Out

A day out with kids when you were an eighties parent meant a day running round the forest with a picnic.  If you were really lucky Mum packed grape sandwiches.  

Nowadays there’s Cbeebies Land, Peppa Pig World, and Lego Land.  You can kiss goodbye to £100 before you have set foot inside.  We even have softplay to entertain the kids on rainy days.  Lucky us. My favourite days out as a kid were when my Nanny and Grandad used to take me to the Zoo.  There was a gorilla called James.  He used to smoke cigarettes.  I think there would be protests about that now.



Eighties parents weren’t bombarded with advice from all angles like today’s parents are.  So much advice is opinion dressed up as fact and it all contradicts each other.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  Is it any wonder today’s parents trust google more than their own instincts? 



As well as loosing our instincts, today’s parents have maybe lost their sense of humour.  If you laugh at the absurdity of a toddler tantrum, or claim your kids have driven you to drink, there are some that will accuse you of being a bad parent.  How dare you not enjoy every minute.  

This is a picture of me with my Mum and Dad.  After speaking to friends of a similar age I have found that they all have a very similar picture of themselves in their family albums. Can you imagine taking this picture today, and the response you would get on social media?


eightie's parents

Yes that is a dolls cot I am sitting in.  Yes that is a cigarette in my mouth.  No it’s not lit.  Yes my Dad in particular seems to find this hilarious!  Yes, I Know, I look a bit like Winston Churchill.


Things have changed.  Things are safer and healthier, and technology makes things easier. But I can’t help but wonder if our parents enjoyed our childhoods that little bit more without all the added pressure and worries that are put upon today’s parents.

What do you think?



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Claire Kirby

13 Comments on Eighties Parents Versus Todays Parents

  1. I just nodded my whole way through this, what a fab blog post lovely! I definitely think we’re much more of a judgemental and pressured society now and I can’t say I like it. Parents certainly had more freedom in the eighties (and nineties) on how they bought up their own children with out anyone having to have their say. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

  2. Oh Claire I love that photo! As a fellow eighties child I can relate to this. I do think our parents had it a lot easier (but I would say that!). In those days my mum used to work evenings at the hospital and my dad would often be going to his masons in the evening. That would mean he would drive us to the hospital and put us in mum’s car with a magazine each and a colouring book and tell us not to touch anything in the car. We would then have to wait an hour for my mum. We must have been 6 and 4 years-old and the car was parked right next to the hospital lake. Can you imagine if we did that today! Also lunch boxes were so much easier then. You could add any old rubbish in there. Monster munch, penguin bars, pop. Those were the days. However, living on Jersey can be a bit like the 1980s. You do see people living their kids in the car as they do a shop. But that’s probably because there is no online shopping here – waaaaah! #FridayFrolics

  3. We had 2 videos of cartoons taped from the TV that o knew off by heart. No tv on demand back then. I was know the pain of technically being a 70’s baby (born December 79)

  4. Yes to Dogtanian – loved that programme and found the baddy dog(s) pretty sinister!! Yes to the soda stream, we used to love making the cola too strong so it was syrupy!! Yes to boring food shopping and I remember there being a lot of freezers, perhaps my mum shopped at 80’s Iceland. The eighties were great but I wouldn’t swap it for todays gear! Great post, v funny x #fridayfrolics

  5. OMG love your smoking baby photo.Fantastic!I def think we have all gone P.C parenting mad and it drives me bonkers.Having said that my kids are trussed up like mummies on the back seat of our car and I don’t allow refined sugar in the house but I do let them smoke in the garden on a Sunday……

  6. I often wonder how parents coped with teenagers back then. I’m constantly phoning and messaging mine when they are out late and still sit up worrying until they get home!

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