8 Childhood Horrors Our Kids Don't Have to Face


old station wagonThere's nothing that binds this generation of parents together like the lure of nostalgia. We love to moan and groan about how nothing is quite as good today as it was in those halcyon days when we were young, and man, are our kids missing out! But let me break it to you, ladies and gents.

Betamax was really not as good as Blu-Ray. Payphones were impossible to find (and hardly ever worked). Trapper Keepers were entirely too big for the backpack. And Shrinky Dinks didn't really have any USE. Oh, and then there were the real horrors of childhood ... that our kids are lucky enough to skip entirely:

Riding in the WAY Back of the Station Wagon: It's hard to tell how many kids saw the world from the back window on the family road trip because Mom and Dad insisted on overpacking. Today a kid lying in a car without a carseat will get you pulled over by the police. And good thing: the CDC says having a kid in a carseat during an accident reduces their risk of serious or fatal injury by more than half.

Creepy Cribs: It might have been cute for you to sleep in your dad's crib when you were a kid, but nothing's good enough for today's baby. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has come down hard over the years on regulating baby beds. That means today's kid never has to worry about getting his head caught between the slats or feeling the side come apart during a tantrum.

Who Needs What?: Children with special needs have a completely different life than their predecessors thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act. It passed in 1990, paving the way for today's children to get special services in schools and out in public that our parents only dreamed of.

Red Dye Scares: Red dye No. 2 was banned in 1976 on the suspicion that it caused cancer, but we kids spent years being told to avoid those fire-engine-red M&Ms. Our kids, on the other hand, are equal opportunity munchers.

Just Play It Off: Unless you were gushing blood from your nostrils, coaches and parents alike expected us to shake it off and get back out there when we were kids. Today we know a little something about concussions ... and how they impact kids for a long time if they're not treated.

Polio: It relegated one of our nation's best known presidents to a wheelchair, and it terrified parents. Even as the numbers of those affected dwindled, we kids sucked down the vaccine from a little vial. But as of 1994, there's no need for parents to fear: polio is considered eradicated from the American population.

AIDS: In December 1982, a toddler contracted the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion, and parents began to panic. Few knew what it was or how to fight it; they just knew it killed people, including innocent children. Fast forward to today, and infections in children are fewer each year, while the age expectancy for someone with HIV increases.

What's in the Water?: If your kid has brown stains on his teeth, it's probably because he's not brushing, not because of anything in your town's water system. The Safe Drinking Water Act passed in 1974, and today municipalities are required to meet federal guidelines that keep toxic nasties out of your kid's cup.

Do you still think childhood was so much better back in the good old days?


Image via taberandrew/Flickr

kid health, safety


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Alicia Lili Mauer

I don't necessarily think "just play it off" is a bad thing. Of course if a child hits their head or there's blood, there needs to be care taken. However, a little girl I babysat for (four, at the time) would shriek and scream like her arm was falling off over falling, often without there being even a brush burn. Her mother had coddled her to the point where she was afraid to run or play outside because she might get hurt. Even falling on carpet led to fits of tears and demands for ice and band-aids. If I hadn't known the child her whole life and hadn't known her mother, I'd have expected she was either being neglected and looking for attention or she had a developmental problem. Nope, mom was just the worst sort of helicopter parent and the kid's still like that in grade school. There has to be some amount of "walk it off" just so the kid learns how to handle pain and doesn't panic over everything. 

MadMe... MadMerlotMama

Yeah, I do think I had it better back then. When I was a kid, we lived in a very close-knit neighborhood, and everyone looked out for each other. We'd play outside until the street lights came on. Also, cartoons were a treat reserved for the all-important Saturday morning, noshing on a bowl of sugary cereal that we could only have on that Most Awesome of mornings. We didn't have many toys growing up, but we were lucky enough to have a treehouse. Throw in a cardboard box (extra points if someone had just gotten a new appliance) and some magic markers and we were in kid HEAVEN.


As opposed to my 8 year old stepson who bawls like we're TORTURING him if we make him (GASP) go outside and play, instead of playing on his DSI. THE HORROR.

Rachel Johnson

MadMerlotMama, you are so right! I was just thinking about it this morning how different my 2 year olds life is compared to mine growing up. I remember how excited I was when my parents would buy a new vacuum or when the christmas tree would come out of the box, because it was the coolest box ever. A three year old little girl used to walk by herself to our house to play, and we would all play outside for hours when we were under 10 years old. Now its dangerous to let your kids out of site even for a minute.

momto... momtolittleg

Obviously there's the good and the bad.  I remember being SO excited that red M&Ms were back in the mix!

lovin... loving.life

Red dye #40 and Yellow #5 are just as scary as the #2.  ALL those fake colors are bad news.

Doomy234 Doomy234

I think things were great when I was a kid. Although, I grew up in the 90's. I rode in the way back of the station wagon, not because my family overpacked, but because it was perfect for lying down and napping. It also had the advantage of looking out every window you wanted.

The cartoons were slightly more wholesome than nowdays. Today's cartoons will literally, and I mean literally, melt your brain.

I admit that the 90's were lacking in clothing style and the music was iffy at best (though still better because people still sang and werent all covered with electronic voices). But come on, Nintendo 64! The single best video game console known to man was released in 1998. Along with Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and all the other brilliant cartoons that actually had a point to the episode (unlike today's Chowders and Regular Shows, where even as an adult I dont know what is going on).

And health wise, kids today still have to worry about a lot of the same things. Chicken pox, bad flus. They still have to worry about bullies in schools and not fitting in. Life just doesnt change some things. But as long as a child enjoys their youth, it shouldnt matter what generation they are born into.

AmyKuras AmyKuras

I love this. I get so sick of that email that goes around periodically that's all "we didn't have bike helmets and we were just fine."

Angie Martin Roye

I have a big station wagon, but the BACK has seats with seat belts and my kids love to ride back there and will fight about it....lol.......red dye #2 may not be a problem but red dye still is for alot of kids and I make my kids play it off sometimes, especially if it is only a minor thing.

Theresa Juba

O coarse it was better...Did you take a count of how many people stated they would for the first time in their lives, go backward instead of forwards! Go head, I dare you!

nonmember avatar Trollie

Polio will be back...

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