Parenting 80's style...You're doing it wrong!

The 1970's and 80's were a different time. Men drank, women smoked, people enjoyed Tang and SPAM. The SAHMs of today were yesterday's housewives and they were okay with it. Kids were kids and parents were law. I miss those days. I grew up in those days. As I watch the parents of today ask the Easton's and Brynna's of tomorrow, the future rulers of the free world, if they'd mind quieting down as they run through early morning tumbling classes, I cringe.
I do my best to hold my tongue, attempting to keep my own parental views to myself, but sometimes when their unruly offspring go a bit too far (throwing blocks, screaming as parents smile and continue to talk about the weather) or when my patience has been pushed to the limits I speak up. 
Okay, maybe I just make some passive aggressive jabs...loudly. Things like, "Wouldn't it be nice if people could control their kids?" Maybe I'm out of line. Maybe I'm a bitch. But let's face it I'm an honest bitch, and someone has to speak up. We as parents need to end the reckless sense of entitlement we've fostered in our progeny. I don't mean for this post to come across as a rant or a lecture. Rather, I want to go back to the days of the simplistic (I know some of you would argue neglectful)  parenting style of the 70's and 80's. I can't help but hear our own parents and grandparents whisper, 'You're doing it wrong.' While they wouldn't be entirely right, they may not be entirely wrong.  So, keep reading if I haven't pissed you off too much....

Playing was simple...

   I think you know what I mean. Little Bruce from down the street knocked on the door and asked if Rodger could come out and play. There was no scheduling, no play dates to set up. iPhones,with color-coded calendars as complicated as ancient Slavic languages, weren't frantically pulled out. No, Mom would yell for Bruce and he and Rodge would go out and play with sticks, stones, and trees. Nature sparked imagination; something I wonder if my own kids have lost because the world has imagined everything for them, given them everything in an instantaneous and gluttonous heap. We've replaced imagination with rigid schedules, which leave very little time for original thought. But, let's get back to Bruce and Rodge...when Mom calls them for lunch, she simply hangs her head out the door and yells their names. They come when called and settle into lunches decided upon by the parent, no choices and you know what, they eat every bite and don't get an after lunch treat...hell, maybe they'll be an ice cream from the truck later. Back then you didn't have to take out a second mortgage to afford an ice cream on a summer day. Times sure have changed. As my son stands behind me reading this, he says, "I don't know what to play." Parents are activities directors. Kids no longer know how to be bored.

Toys were toys...

The Slinkys and Shrinky Dinks, while not gone, have mostly been forgotten, tossed aside for the wonderful world of electronics. Our idea of an electronic was Battleship or Simple Simon. Kids would literally sit and spin until they were about to vomit, but the toy was not without appeal. And don't even get me started on the precursors to the jazzy software art programs of today...the Lite-Brite, which while it had a catchy song, was impossible to work. I could never figure out how to make the super ship or suburban house from the commercials. Instead, I made odd boats and nice squares, everything looked boxy. And speaking of boxy, the Etch A Sketch....impossible, but it was fun to shake. Today we have the iPad, Kindles, laptops, Xboxes and each year they come out with better versions. As children are whooping it up at birthdays and holidays with the latest and greatest, parents know their kid's happiness is transitory; in just a short time a newer, better, faster (but just by a bit) version will come out with a price increase because let's face's gadgets are like cars...depreciating as we purchase them. Our kids want the best and we, out of guilt and keeping up with the Jones' syndrome, often give it to them. I'm guilty of I'm not judging and if I am, I'm including myself. 

Cartoons were on Saturday...

   Saturday mornings were a big deal. Mom bought sugar cereal and this was the one day we were allowed to eat it. My own grandmother wouldn't buy our weekday cereal unless sugar was the third (or fourth) ingredient listed on the box, but on Saturday morning we could get jacked up on sugar and watch cartoons until lunch. Now, cartoons are on everyday and can be found 24/7. 

Entire channels are devoted to them. When my daughter was up sick and I wondered if it would be possible to find a kid show, I had several to chose 2AM on a Tuesday. Growing up we only had Saturday. And, we watched what our parents did if we were lucky enough to get to watch TV. I was raised on a steady diet of Aaron Spelling, Norman Lear and soap operas, where I taught myself the wonders of kissing and serious stares. I dreamed of boarding school because I watched four girls each week and they seemed to really love it. And there was a little boy, the son of a millionaire, who rode a train through his living room and slept in a race car bed. In my world of TV, two boys from Harlem got into trouble each week while their wealthy benefactor father watched and advised from their Park Ave. penthouse. Today's shows seem unbelievable in comparison, a girl is nanny to four kids adopted by rich parents who are never around to raise them....what?

Kids did what their parents did...period. 

   We weren't given options. They didn't ask if you'd like to go to the beach or amusement park. If our parents said beach, we loaded into the back of the wagon, slapped on our water wings and followed them for a day of crispy (remember, no sunscreen) and often painful fun. You came home red and blistered, but your parents told you you'd had fun and you believed them, because they said so....
And their catchphrases were different from the ones I use on my own children. The I'll give you something to cry abouts and no ifs, ands or buts about it have been replaced by no treat tonight, no show or early bedtime. How I miss the old days....

Food was NOT organic...

French fries, eggs and cheese drizzled 
with hot pepper juice.
My favorite meal from childhood. YUM!
   Because either it wasn't filled with chemicals and preservatives or our parents just didn't care....I'm still trying to figure this out. What I do know are the names of those things I believe have caused my three-year-old to have breasts and may bring about menstruation at an astoundingly young age. The latest statistic says (voiding the previous statistic) 3 out of 4 people will get cancer in their lifetime. You'd imagine all this would force me to buy organic, but I can't afford to.....
Back in the day we ate SPAM, and Fluffernutters. Kool-Aid and Tang were our drinks of choice. Kids weren't allergic to everything. Today EpiPens and hand sanitizer are pocketbook necessities. Poor kids face lives without ice cream or peanut butter. Eating was simpler back in the 70's and 80's though I can't figure out why.
And, when you sat down to dinner you ate every single bite....or else!! You didn't leave the table and you said please and thank you for everything and to everyone. No Exceptions.

And finally, the family pet...

Dogs were dogs with dog names like Toby and King....none of this naming your dog after the latest Disney character. Yes, my dog's name is Elsa, but I didn't pick it...she came with it, which absolves me. Really, Elsa is hardly fitting for a 70 pound lab/pit mix. But, I digress. My dog does not wear a dress, she does not see a  therapist, she is not my profile picture on Facebook. Because while I love her, I know she is a dog...and I want her to know she is a dog, just like my kids know they are children and I am the parent. Things, I've found, are much less confusing for everybody...this doesn't mean my dog or children are less than me, it simply means they are not the same as me. So, I will not schedule play dates for my dog or bring her to a doggie dating event (no, I've never heard of one, but I'm sure they exist or are about to...). Instead, I promise to take her for walks, feed her dog food, let her chew on sticks and act like what she is, a dog. Today, we schedule dates for our dogs....don't schedule dates for your dogs....Enough said.

   Yes, I am guilty of doing half the things I've mentioned. Yes, I'm a hypocrite, but I told you that in my first post. If you don't believe me, go back and take a look. What I hope for myself and for all of you, is to fall somewhere in-between the carefree and possibly neglectful parenting of the 70's/80's, and the very involved, bordering on coddling, parenting of today. I hope I am aware enough to realize that parenting is hard and we all just do our best to make it matter the decade.

If you want to contact me with comments, feedback or just because, you can reach me at


  1. Amen. Agree w/ everything, but my favorite: "but your parents told you you'd had fun and you believed them." As if parenting isn't hard enough, the way it's done today makes it SO much harder for us parents. I've written about this BS, too, and even started a movement - The Detached Parenting Movement. Join me, won't you?

    1. Thanks for reading Stacey. Can't wait to read what you've written on detached parenting!!

  2. I found you through Beyond Your Bloggers and I love you already! I totally agree with you here ... the 70s rocked so hard being a kid!

  3. Thanks so much Kerrie!!! I loved the 70s...I think things were much easier, but that's because I was a kid I guess. Being a parent is awesome, but so much harder. I'll look forward to checking out your stuff on Beyond Your Bloggers. Do you have five kids? I ask because I have four and when we all go out people look at me like I'm nuts....

  4. And when did gift bags at kid's birthday parties become a thing?!?! I don't get it! I remember going to a friend's birthday party giving a gift and not expecting one in return. I don't have kids yet, but when I do, I WILL NOT be making or giving gift bags to their friends at their birthday parties.

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