'Mad Men' Premiere Shows How Much Parenting Has Changed Since 1966

Roger, Joan and their newborn mad men season five premiere
A smoking Roger Sterling checks out his and Joan's kiddo.
When one of my good friends was almost nine months pregnant, she admitted she would have a sip of wine here and there. But she was totally freaked to do it in public, because, you know, she might get nasty stares (or maybe even kicked out of the place!). When confronted with that situation, I can't help but think how times have changed. Rewind back to the '60s, and an expectant or new mom enjoying a martini and cigarettes was no big thing. Well, that's not all that has changed ... as evidenced by the season five premiere of Mad Men.

Here, a few of the most glaring examples from the episode that show how parenting has changed from 1966 to now ...

  1. Baby on a bar stool. Now that baby Gene is a toddler, he seems to be making regular visits to Daddy Don's with big sibs Sally and Bobby. But he's still quite the tiny tyke, and so to see him precariously perched way high up on a bar stool at the mod chic kitchen counter is definitely kind of a shock. Don't think that would happen these days!
  2. Kids all wily-nily in the car. When Don takes the kids back to "Morticia and Lurch's" (aka mom Betty and second hubby Henry's house), not only is Gene not in a car seat, but no one has a seat belt on. Craaazy!
  3. Kids have to go to the door on their own. It definitely seems off-kilter that a father wouldn't bring his children -- especially poor little Gene -- to the door. You'd (hopefully) never see kids that young unaccompanied these days. (As my mom pointed out: What if Gene had decided to run into the street?!)
  4. Pete's disinterest in daddying. As we can tell from his convo with the other dad on the train about evading his postpartum wife, his late night return to their Connecticut home, and how he reacts when he first sees Joan's baby, Pete doesn't seem the least bit interested in being a father. Go figure. He even makes crack about how he can't push a stroller, because he isn't wearing a skirt. Ugh! Thankfully, these days, most guys aren't running away from their wives the minute they have a baby, and they take a more active role in fathering.
  5. Joan rushing back to the office. Pre-women's movement, I'm sure working women like Joan, who had worked their way up to a senior position, felt like they couldn't just throw in the towel just because they were "married to a doctor," as her old-school mother points out. These days, while it's still not exactly easy, most women don't feel as pressured to sacrifice parenthood or a career. We know we can have both.
  6. Roger smoking in his kiddo's face. As he picks up Joan's (and his) baby (probably to check to see if he notices any resemblance), Roger has a cigarette hanging from his lips. Ick. Hope you'd NEVER see that in 2012!

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Still, as much as things change, the more they stay the same ... Take Sally walking in on Dad (thankfully already in a robe) and Megan hanging out in bed, half of her nude bum exposed. How many kids have made that mistake ... and will continue to for years to come?!

Did these scenes shock you? In what other ways has parenting changed from the '60s to now?

Image via AMC

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