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. Eightie’s parents versus today’s parents: Who had it easier?
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. Eightie’s 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. Eightie’s 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!
I may have to concede on this one and admit that eightie’s 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!
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 eightie’s parents were doing it better than us after all.
A day out with kids when you were an eightie’s 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.
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?
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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