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

TV Addict 16

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!

More from The Stir: Repeating Parenting Mistakes Isn't 'Fair' to Your Older Kids

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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jessi... jessicasmom1

smoking while looking at the child  haha 

easun... easunshine

I havent watched it yet but it's on my dvr and I am crazy excited!!

Rosemarie Cappellino Torem

Leading up to this episode, Don left the kids in the hotel room by themselves in California while he spent the night with Megan.

Sucro... SucroseMonkey

Don't forget Joan just leaving the baby out with the other people in the office and not seeming to mind as he gets passed around and taken all over without her knowing exactly where the kid is every second.

Piper... Piper3907

My Aunt told me the doctor actually lit the cigarette for my her in the delivery room! They were both smoking! This was in the early '60's.

MomLi... MomLily67

Crazy stuff!!!  where I  live (Mexico), you wil encounteer many kids wily-nily in the car. I've seen babies hanging on their moms arm as she drives,tiny ones.  I still have my 7 year old in a buster seat, and she could do without it, she is as tall as a 9 year old, but she says it is safer, that works great for me.

Heather Harrison

The smoking scene was and is hilarious. My grandmother used to drive us around smoking a cig in the car, windows rolled up tightly, and all of us bouncing around in the back because of course there weren't any car seats. Somehow we all survived. I have to admit (and I'm not afraid to because I got kicked out of the good mom club along time ago) that I kinda miss the bad parenting days. Not because I don't want my kid to be safe driving in the car, but back then it wasn't a big deal to make a mistake.


"The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself." www.themommypsychologist.com

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

It's willy-nilly, not wily-nily. Read them out loud, the latter is pronounced much differently, and is not a term anyone uses. Ever.

But yes, many things have changed for the better.

nonmember avatar Garyss

I grew up in a paradise small town in Northern California(the fifties and late sixties)and the kind of stuff you talk about was no big deal back then. Example, I played Little League Baseball with my next door neighbors (8 boys and 1 girl)and the dad was the coach. So after the game we boys piled into the back of the pickup truck and me being one of the lucky ones got to lean over the cab. The dad had plenty of beer in him and the road was curvy. He decides to pass a car on a curve and sure as heck, a car was coming our way. Now us boys were wide eyed and laughing our heads off because we just missed the guy and none of us were thrown out with the hard maneuvers he had to make (oh, and the creek was to the right of us and it was STEEP!)Ah, those were the days. By-the-way, this guy was an executive with plenty of bucks...a suite and at the end of the day, a highball in hand getting loosened up to play ball with us kids. Of course today, this dad would be behind bars in some county jail or prison. All the kids are still alive with all their limbs attached and the oldest being the girl, well she is still kicking and survived 8 brothers and me (she was my first heart-throb, but I did not tell her that until forty years later.)That was then.

Castanya- Anya Breen

I use "willy-nilly" all the time! LOL! Of course, I was raised in the South...

My mom was raised in this "Mad Men" world...and she is a wonderfully functioning, healthier than most, nearly 60 year old that often reminisces on those "good old days" (wow I use a lot of quotation marks).
Her mother was started on cigs because of morning sickness, smoked until 2 mths before her death (not smoke related), drank a beer in the evening to unwind, and gave me my first wine (I was like 19). I didn't have much of a booster seat, rode in the back of trucks, and helped deliver phone books off the side of my mom's suburban - in the 90's!!! My parents were considered OVER-protective. :)
Now, I sometimes feel so scared to rebuke my whining child in public because of CPS. Not all change is for the better.

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