We Should Parent More Like They Did in 1978

When I was born in the late 1970s, parenting was a much more casual affair. Parents loved us and all, but the whole cult of parenting hadn't yet been born. In recent years, it seems like parenting has taken on a whole new meaning and parents are more involved in their children's lives than ever before.

As I've spent the last two evenings staring at the many enrichment activities my 3- and 4.5-year-old have on their agendas for the fall, it occurred to me that I am the opposite of my hands-off parents in so many ways. And most of my peers are, too. Maybe we're reacting to our own upbringings by giving our kids the opposite.

In her recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, Comedian Samantha Bee discusses her own late 1970s upbringing in a hilarious and very familiar way while discussing summer enrichment with her kids. She says:


I am a child of the 1970s. What that means, in short, is that my childhood summer vacations were spent languishing in front of the TV watching Phil Donahue and eating Boo Berry until my skin turned purple. Nobody cared if I read. Nobody cared if I wore sunscreen, or pants. I was like a house cat; my parents barely even knew if I was still living with them or whether I had moved in with the old lady down the street who would put out a bowl of food for me. In the '70s, parenting was like a combination of intense crate-training and rumspringa, so I would typically spend June through September burnt to a crisp and wandering listlessly around the city, verging on scurvy.

And how true it is. Maybe we have all become overprotective in reaction to our own boo-berry filled Saturday mornings. And yet, there was a certain independence in that upbringing that is so lacking in today's kids (and parents). My mother's life didn't revolve around me and I knew it.

She had her swimming and her yoga. She was a therapist, so she had her patients and her friends. We were close, but I never thought I was her whole life. And don't even get me started on my dad who spent approximately half my life doing business in other countries. But it's all OK.

Still, I remember promising myself I would make sure my kids knew they were my whole life and I adored them above all else. Then, of course, I had kids. It's a lot harder than it looks! And while I mostly parent in the modern, obsessive way, I also wish I could take a page from those benignly neglectful parents of the early to mid-1980s. What's REALLY so wrong with a little boo-berry and daytime TV?

Do you parent like your parents?


Image via freakapotimus/Flickr

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