Parenting: Are We Getting a Raw Deal?

12711307_10206480078338131_5829653117437408897_oSummer 1974. I’m 9 years old. By 7:30 am, I’m up and out of the house, or if it’s Saturday I’m up and doing exactly what my father, Big Jerry, has told me to do. Might be raking, mowing, digging holes, or washing cars.

Summer 2016. I’m tiptoeing out of the house, on my way to work, in an effort not to wake my children who will undoubtedly sleep until 11 am. They may complete a couple of the chores I’ve left in a list on the kitchen counter for them, or they may eat stale Cheez-its that were left in their rooms 3 days ago, in order to avoid the kitchen at all costs and “not see” the list.

If you haven’t noticed, we’re getting a raw deal where this parenting gig is concerned. When did adults start caring whether or not their kids were safe, happy, or popular? I can assure you that Ginny and Big Jerry were not wiling away the hours wondering if my brother and I were fulfilled. Big Jerry was stoking the fires of his retirement savings and working, and working some more. Ginny was double bolting the door in order to keep us out of the house, and talking on the phone while she smoked a Kent. Meanwhile, we were three neighborhoods away, playing with some kids we’d never met, and we had crossed 2 major highways on bicycles with semi-flat tires to get there. Odds are, one of us had crashed at some point and was bleeding pretty impressively. No one cared. We were kids and if we weren’t acting as free labor, we were supposed to be out of the house and out of the way.

My personal belief is that the same “woman with too little to do”, that decided it was necessary to give 4- year old guests a gift for coming to a birthday party, is the same loon who decided we were here to serve our kids and not the other way around. Think about it. As a kid, what was your costume for Halloween? If you were really lucky, your mom jabbed a pair of scissors in an old sheet, cut two eye holes, and you were a ghost. If her friend was coming over to frost her hair and showed up early, you got one eye hole cut and spent the next 45 minutes using a sharp stick to jab a second hole that was about two inches lower than its partner. I watched my cousin run directly into a parked car due to this very costume one year. He was still yelling, “Trick or Treat” as he slid down the rear quarter panel of a Buick, mildly concussed. When my son was 3 years old, we had a clown costume made by a seamstress, complete with pointy clown hat, and grease makeup. His grandmother spent more having that costume made than she did on my prom dress.

At some point in the last 25 years, the tide shifted and the parents started getting the marginal cars and the cheap clothes while the kids live like rock stars. We spend enormous amounts of money on private instruction, the best sports gear money can buy, and adhere to psycho competition schedules. I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve bought the $300 baseball bats with money that should have been invested in a retirement account, traveled from many an AAU basketball game, or travel baseball game, to a dance competition in the course of one day, and failed to even consider why. Remember Hank Aaron? He didn’t need a $300 bat to be great. Your kid isn’t going pro and neither is mine, but you are going to retire one day and dumpster diving isn’t for the elderly. My brother and I still laugh about how, when he played high school baseball, there was one good bat and the entire team used it.

Remember your clothes in the 70’s? Despite my best efforts to block it out, I can still remember my desperate need to have a pair of authentic Converse shoes. Did I get them? Negative. Oh, was it a punch in the gut when my mother presented me with the Archdale knock-offs she found somewhere between my hometown and Greensboro. Trust me. They weren’t even close. Did I complain? Hell, no. I’m still alive, aren’t I? We’ve got an entire generation of kids spitting up on outfits that cost more than my monthly electric bill. There were no designer baby clothes when we were kids. Why? Because our parents weren’t crazy enough to spend $60 on an outfit for us to have explosive diarrhea in or vomit on. Our parents were focused on saving for their retirement and paying their house off. The real beauty of it is that none of these kids are going to score a job straight out of college that will allow them to pay for the necessities of life, brand new cars, and $150 jeans, so guess who’s going to be getting the phone call when they can’t make rent? Yep, we are.

Think back; way, way back. Who cleaned the house and did the yard work when you were a kid? You did. In fact, that’s why some people had children. We were free labor. My mother served as supervisor for the indoor chores, and the house damn well better be spotless when my father came through the door at 5:35. The battle cry went something like this, “Oh, no! Your father will be home in 15 minutes! Get those toys put away nooooow!” The rest of our evening was spent getting up to turn the television on demand, and only to what Dad wanted to watch.

On weekends Dad was in charge of outdoor work and if you were thirsty you drank out of the hose, because 2 minutes of air conditioning and a glass of water from the faucet might make you soft. Who does the housework and yardwork now? The cleaning lady that comes on Thursday, and the landscaping crew that comes every other Tuesday. Most teenage boys have never touched a mower, and if you asked my daughter to clean a toilet, she would come back with a four page paper on the various kinds of deadly bacteria present on toilet seats. Everyone is too busy doing stuff to take care of the stuff they already have. But don’t get confused, they aren’t working or anything crazy like that. Juggling school assignments, extracurricular activities, and spending our money could become stressful if they had to work.

I don’t recall anyone being worried about my workload being stressful, or my mental health in general. Jerry and Ginny had grownup stuff to worry about. As teenagers, we managed our own social lives and school affairs. If Karen, while executing a hair flip, told me my new Rave perm made me look like shit and there was no way Kevin would ever go out with my scrawny ass, my mother wasn’t even going to know about it; much less call Karen’s mother and arrange a meeting where we could iron out our misunderstanding and take a selfie together. Additionally, no phone calls were ever made to any of my teachers or coaches. Ever. If we sat the bench, we sat the bench. Our dads were at work anyway. They only knew what we told them. I can’t even conceive of my dad leaving work to come watch a ballgame. If I made a 92.999 and got a B, I got a B. No thinly veiled threats were made and no money changed hands to get me that A. Ok, full disclosure, in my case we would be looking at an 84.9999. I was the poster child for underachievement.

Back in our day, high school was a testing ground for life. We were learning to be adults under the semi-vigilant supervision of our parents. We had jobs because we wanted cars, and we wanted to be able to put gas in our cars, and wear Jordache jeans and Candies. Without jobs, we had Archdale sneakers and Wranglers, and borrowed our mother’s Chevrolet Caprice, affectionately known as the “land yacht”, on Friday night. No one, I mean, no one, got a new car. I was considered fairly lucky because my parents bought me a car at all. I use the term “car” loosely. If I tell you it was a red convertible and stop right here, you might think me special. I wasn’t. My car was a red MG Midget, possibly a ’74 and certainly a death trap.

Look at your coffee table. Now imagine it having a steering wheel and driving it. I promise you, it’s bigger than my car was. The starter was bad, so after school I had the pleasure of popping the hood and using two screwdrivers to cross the solenoids or waiting for the football players to come out of the dressing room headed to practice. Those guys pushing my car while I popped the clutch, is a memory no 16-year old girl around here will ever have, and it’s a great one. Had I driven that car in high winds, it’s likely I would have ended up airborne, and there were probably some serious safety infractions committed the night I took 6 people in togas to a convenience store, but I wouldn’t go back and trade it out for a new 280Z, even if I had the chance. I was a challenging teenager, and in retrospect the fact that it was pretty impressive every time I made it home alive, may not have been an accident on the part of my parents. Go to the high school now. These kids are driving cars that grown men working 55 hours a week can’t afford, and they aren’t paying for them with their jobs.

And those new cars don’t do a thing for telling a good story. I tell my kids all the time, the very best stories from my teen and college years involve Ann’s yellow Plymouth Duster with the “swirling dust” graphic, Randy’s Valiant with the broken gas gauge, and Carla’s burgundy Nissan that may or may not have had a complete floorboard. A story that starts, “Remember that time we were heading to the beach in Carla’s Nissan and your wallet fell through the floorboard onto the highway?” is so much more interesting than, “Remember that time we were going to the beach in your brand new SUV, filled up with gas that your parents paid for, and the…well, no, never mind. Nothing happened. We just drove down there.” To top it all off, most of them head off to college without a clue what it’s like to look for a job, apply for it, interview, and show up on time, as scheduled. If they have a job, it’s because someone owed their dad a favor…and then they work when it “fits their schedule”.

We all love our kids, and we want to see them happy and fulfilled, but I fear we’re robbing them of the experiences that make life memorable and make them capable, responsible, confident adults. For the majority of us, the very nice things we had as teenagers, we purchased with money we earned after saving for some ungodly amount of time. Our children are given most everything, and sometimes I wonder whether it’s for them or to make us feel like good parents. The bottom line is that you never value something you were given, as much as something you worked for. There were lessons in our experiences, even though we didn’t know it at the time. All those high school cat fights, and battles with teachers we clashed with, were an opportunity for us to learn how to negotiate and how to compromise. It also taught us that the world isn’t fair. Sometimes people just don’t like you, and sometimes you’ll work your ass off and still get screwed. We left high school, problem solvers. I’m afraid our kids are leaving high school with mommy and daddy on speed dial.

We just don’t have the cojones our parents had. We aren’t prepared to tell our kids that they won’t have it if they don’t work for it, because we can’t bear to see them go without and we can’t bear to see them fail. We’ve given them a whole lot of stuff; stuff that will break down, wear out, get lost, go out of style, and lose value. As parents, I suppose some of us feel pretty proud about how we’ve contributed in a material way to our kid’s popularity and paved an easy street for them. I don’t, and I know there are many of you that are just as frustrated by it as I am. I worry about what we’ve robbed them of, which I’ve listed below, in the process of giving them everything.

  • Delayed gratification is a really good thing. It teaches you perseverance and how to determine the true value of something. Our kids don’t know a damn thing about delayed gratification. To them, delayed gratification is waiting for their phone to charge.
  • Problem-solving skills and the ability to manage emotion are crucial life skills. Kids now have every problem solved for them. Good luck calling their college professor to argue about how they should have another shot at that final because they had two other finals to study for and were stressed. Don’t laugh, parents have tried it.
  • Independence allows you to discover who you really are, instead of being what someone else expects you to be. It was something I craved. These kids have traded independence for new cars and Citizen jeans. They will live under someone’s thumb forever, if it means cool stuff. I would have lived in borderline condemned housing, and survived off of crackers and popsicles to maintain my independence. Oh wait, I actually did that. It pisses me off. You’re supposed to WANT to grow up and forge your way in the world; not live on someone else’s dime, under someone else’s rule, and too often these days, under someone else’s roof.
  • Common sense is that little something extra that allows you to figure out which direction is north, how to put air in your tires, or the best route to take at a certain time of day to avoid traffic. You develop common sense by making mistakes and learning from them. It’s a skill best acquired in a setting where it’s safe to fail, and is only mastered by actually doing things for yourself. By micromanaging our kids all the time, we’re setting them up for a lifetime of cluelessness and ineptitude. At a certain age, that cluelessness becomes dangerous. I’ve seen women marry to avoid thinking for themselves, and for some it was the wisest course of action.
  • Mental toughness is what allows a person to keep going despite everything going wrong. People with mental toughness are the ones who come out on top. They battle through job losses, difficult relationships, illness, and failure. It is a quality born from adversity. Adversity is a GOOD thing. It teaches you what you’re made of. It puts into practice the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. It’s life’s teacher. Our bubble-wrapped kids are so sheltered from adversity, I wonder how the mental health professionals will handle them all after the world chews them up and spits them out a few times.

I know you are calling me names right now, and mentally listing all the reasons this doesn’t apply to you and your kid, but remember I’m including myself in this. My kids aren’t as bad as some, because I’m too poor and too lazy to indulge them beyond a certain point. And I’m certainly not saying that our parents did everything right. God knows all that second hand smoke I was exposed to, and those Sunday afternoon drives where Dad was drinking a Schlitz and I was standing on the front seat like a human projectile, were less than ideal; but I do think parents in the 70’s defined their roles in a way we never have.I worry that our kids are leaving home with more intellectual ability than we did, but without the life skills that will give them the success and independence that we’ve enjoyed.

Then again, maybe it’s not parents that are getting the raw end of this deal after all.

Advertisements

1,266 thoughts on “Parenting: Are We Getting a Raw Deal?

    1. This article should be given out to all parents as they leave the hospital with their newborns!!!! As the parent of an only child, I am guilty of doing too much for my daughter. I admit that all the ‘help’ we gave her in her early years has turned her into the most unorganized, entitled, narcissistic, bratty adult who is basically incapable of solving the smallest crisis in her own life. She is a smart girl—so smart that she chooses to not address a problem because she knows daddy will step in and take care of it. Mommy (me) had had enough and has toughened up. We are doing our kids a major disservice by helping them too much. We have to allow them to fall in order for them to learn how to get up on their own.

      Thank you for this amazing article…..I will be sharing it with everyone I know!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Michelle, you are my kind of woman! As parents, we are inevitably going to make mistakes. I just love people willing to raise their hand and say, “Hey, this is what I did and how I wish I had done it differently.” What a gift to those who have 2 years olds, to be able to benefit from the knowledge of those that have gone before. I’m betting your daughter gets it together and comes out just fine. Half the battle is identifying the problem. Hats off to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. God knows all that second hand smoke I was exposed to, and those Sunday afternoon drives where Dad was drinking a Schlitz and I was standing on the front seat like a human projectile…laughed out loud! This is a very good read!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You hilariously expressed what causes my husband and I to rebel against in parenting. Our poor kids friends would and do come over to play only to be kicked out of the house in all kids of weather. My Jr in high school still had a broken flip phone 3 years ago. No way was My kid having a better phone than me!! They are lucky to have them at all! I have 4 kids ages 12-20. I read this out loud to my 14 year old daughter and 20 year old son. Yeah, they do have way more than they need! But most of it comes from goodwill cousins and friends. We all repurpose each other’s things! And if we buy it new, it’s on sale! My 20 year old has now owned about 10 cars since the age of 14. He had to buy his own car and fix it up. He started buying cheap cars, fixing them up and selling them. His money, not mom and dads. And if you don’t have money for insurance you don’t get a drivers license. If you can’t pay your speeding ticket…then don’t get license.
    Our now 18 year old didn’t get her license till she was 17 1/2. The list goes on, and they did survive and still are. Thank you again for writing This!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My money says they come back and thank you profusely later in life. As a single mom until 3 weeks ago, I know all about hand-me-downs. What I love most about this is your positive attitude in the system you have in place. It’s not controlling angry, or bitter. I bet you have some great kids.

      Like

    1. Hi Ann! My kids agreed to be misrepresented a little for the piece. They’ve grown up with a single mom, so I only had the time and resources to do a little damage. I’m sure “When I was your age” rings in their ears! What I love is everybody’s willingness to say, “Oh my gosh, I’m guilty of that but I’m trying to do better.” I think the simple fact that we care, we’re trying, and they know it contributes in a positive way. My best to you and your daughter! Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  3. Every single thing you wrote here took me right back to growing up. It’s sad that our kids are missing out. I just told my 9 y.o. this morning that we used to be out from daylight until dark in the summer and loved every minute of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know. As much as I love the convenience of technology, it makes me sad to think about how it draws kids in and they miss out on the wonders of nature. When my son was younger, I used video game time as a reward for reading, creativity, etc. Might should have included “playing in the creek”.

      Like

  4. Spot on, and without all the nonsense of how much better things were 40 years ago. You put my thoughts on me vs my parents in writing eloquently. And for that I thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This was AWESOME!! I tell my kids stories like this all the time! My first car was a hand me down Oldsmobile Delta 88′ 1978! There was not floor so I had to get fake grass from the local hardware store and make one!! My next was yet another hand me down Buick Skylark, the hood was broken and had to be held down by a bungee rope that often decided to let loose on the high way! LOL This was a refreshing, funny read!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So true and what a great reminder that kids are not fragile!! We were mad that our parents (I was born 1961) did not pay enough attention only after we were TOLD by the culture/psychology of the day that we were cheated of praise and an over abundance of attention!! How I wish we could go back and not be so afraid!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Yvonne! I so appreciate people taking the time to read and give feedback. You’re right. I think the fact that we’re able to access every bad bit of news instantaneously, has made us more fearful than ever.

      Like

  7. This hit home for me, in the way I raised my kids. When I think back on my childhood, I remember all the fun things, like being outside all day, making mud pies in my hedgerow playhouse, playing in the rain, kickball in the neighborhood, We certainly did not have any extra money, but I do not think I missed out on much! Passing this on to my daughter, who has 3, 6 yr old girl, and 3 yr old twin boys!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You said “hedgerow”. Are you British or possibly, Australian? Either way, I adore both for different reasons! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I too think back fondly to the way we played as kids. I spent so many days in the creek behind my house catching crayfish or riding my bike on ramps we built in the yard. As much as I love the convenience of technology, it’s robbed our kids of some of those experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great read!
    As I’ve gotten older, I find myself trying to make things easier for my kids. This is a great reminder for me to stay on course (our youngest child is a junior in high school now) and to not make my kids soft!
    Some points you made actually made me feel better about some of the decisions we made and things we’ve done as parents.

    The first thing that popped into my mind were the homemade halloween costumes my kids wore. The only store bought ones they ever wore were hand-me-downs that someone else bought, wore and then gave to them. My favorite homemade costume was the “bag of M&Ms” my son wore 14 years ago. It was a clear plastic trash bag with blown up balloons stuffed in it.
    I also appreciated your comments about kids and work. In our home we didn’t give the kids allowances. But we did give them the opportunity to work and earn money at home. All three of our kids mowed the lawn, did their own laundry (since they were little), and cleaned their own bathroom. We did pay them for some of the extra chores they did around the house because we wanted to teach them the concept of work and reward.

    Thanks for the accurate, entertaining and spot on analysis. I appreciate the reminder and laughs!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a fabulous article! One of my best friends and I were just discussing how parents are so afraid to let their kids feel any disappointment..what a sad commentary on our society! My hubby and I just discussed tonight that everyone wants to save their kids from experiencing things that might hurt their feelings. Parents need to give their kids tools to cope, not save them from the experience. Your article is so hilarious and really hits home in so many ways. Thank you for putting into words what really needs to be said to so many of us parents..it made my night!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wynne! It’s hard. Our natural instinct is to protect our kids, so letting them fail now so that they’re prepared for the future is tough. The nice thing is that there are so many of us engaged in the same struggle that are willing to work together and look for ways to do better. I so appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      Like

  10. Thank you for this piece, it’s what has been boiling inside me since my grandchildren were born. I don’t know when it happened but I know the generation that caused it. I was a baby boomer and we were taught that if you wanted something other than necessities, you got a job, in addition to your daily chores. I got my first babysitting job at 10 and began buying all of my own school clothes so I didn’t “have to” wear what my mother bought. I was taught to work hard also, to give a job 150% because they were not only “my” bread and butter but that of my children also. I don’t know where I went wrong with my kids, maybe it was their peer influence because when they were coming up, their peers were being handed things. My son adopted my sternness but added his own to it and has become very strict with his children and my girls are “yes” moms. They give their kids (or try to) everything they ask for. If their husbands disagree, they do it anyway but on the sly. Yes, my grandchildren are pretty dependent on their parents for most everything, except for my son’s kids.
    I look at the kids today, those just graduating and I am in real fear for them. They have no idea what the real world is like and have never been given a compass (or gps) to navigate it. They only know the “home” button where all their troubles will dissolve and magically disappear.
    Thank you for this, I will share it and slip it in under the radar so my kids can read it. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and your well-thought out response, Charlene. Your grandchildren are lucky to have a grandmother who cares so much about their well-being and whether or not they’re prepared for the challenges life is sure to bring. I think a combination of technology, people becoming parents later and having more disposable income, and media have all contributed significantly to the parenting shift we’ve seen over the years. Fortunately, there seem to be a great number of parents who are of the opinion that the best avenue is somewhere in the middle. I’m just happy to see so many people committed to doing to the best job they can do!

      Like

  11. My husband and I were just lamenting on this exact topic a couple of days ago. My fourteen year old son wants to do nothing but sit in he’s room and play Xbox 24/7. It drives me crazy. We make him do chores, how dare we and constantly battle on the time spent on the Xbox and tablet. I told my husband we are the parents and we don’t have to ask our fourteen year olds permission to make or change the rules. My childhood was as you described yours and I am a better person for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susan! I don’t know if it will work for you, but I used gaming time as a reward for reading and working around the house. I swear, those things are addictive. If it’s any consolation, my 18 year old worked through that phase and went from wanting to be a “professional video game player” to majoring in Economics and Political Science. There’s light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

      Like

  12. Lol yup, I bought my first car for $300 and a box of fireworks. There were quite a few bungee cords holding it together. That little Honda civic hatchback lasted forever. Just wouldn’t die. Saturdays were “get up, we’re cleaning out the garage today”. We’d bang on the door to be let in and my parents would ask whats wrong, it’s not dark yet. Ok you can use the bathroom and then back out you go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your response, Katrina! So funny to me how most of us grew up with similar experiences despite WHERE we grew up. I’m sure the best practice falls somewhere between what we experienced and parenting today, but we did turn out pretty well, didn’t we?

      Like

  13. You hit this right on. Things aren’t important, experiences are what are important. Giving your child or teen everything teaches them nothing. Having to work hard, save, sweat, anticipate and then ultimately getting what they worked for teaches them so much – that THEY can do it. It also teaches them respect for what they purchased and for the work their parents put in to achieve what they have. I refused to type my children’s school papers even if they were running behind. It taught them to have better time management the next project and that mom (or dad) wasn’t going to fix everything for them.

    I also played outside until dark as a kid and I’m sad to see a whole new generation of kids missing out on those experiences.

    Kudos to you for a great article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Connie! I agree with you. Experiences are what we remember and impact our lives…not stuff. Having some “skin in the game” gives all of us a better appreciation for the value of things. I so appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

      Like

  14. All I ever hear are complaints about “kids these days don’t go outside and play”, or “are so entitled”, “they are so pampered and have no idea how to handle anything”, etc. etc. I like to counter with, “But WE made the kids these days like this! WE did it!” So refreshing to read your view expressing the same sentiment! Somehow, we switched around how we were treated as kids (and it generally was not a bad way, but definitely we were left to our own devices and expected to help out a lot at home) to raise our own children like some sort of royalty that have to have everything and do nothing! Do you think they will finally figure it all out,…in time to be proficient middle aged adults that will, by then, have the responsibility of caring for us?!!! We can only hope. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wendy! I do love how parents now are more engaged with their kids, but I so wish we could find a balance between being engaged and not turning that into dependency. I do think there will be the lucky ones whose parents figure out they’re not helping and back off. Unfortunately, that learning curve is probably going to be more painful and costly out on their own than it would have been while still at home. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments!

      Like

  15. Loved it-and I loved to stand in the front seat while my dad drove anywhere-LOL-we lived dangerously-but I don’t remember a single person being killed or even hurt in the 60’s. This made me smile. Dad drove a tractor trailer and was only home on weekends-mom worked in a factory,swing shift. It wasn’t always ideal-but we had great neighbors and everyone looked out for everyone else. It was such a different time. Yep-loved this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a great reflection of days gone by!! I love it and miss it all…was just discussing an upcoming boating trip with my DIL’s mother about the need to take 2 cars due to the grand kids car seats……….long gone are the days of piling all the kids in the back of a station wagon and going for a ride all while mom and dad enjoyed their Schlitz. I was one of those who had to drive my moms Plymouth Duster too oh the stories…My boys grew up to be great young men we are very proud of today, all while having a bit more than we did as kids and I could not be more grateful. However I often found myself saying things that as a kid I never thought I would say…..ie “I brought you into this world I can take you out” Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. LOVE THIS…And I had… If I tell you it was a red convertible and stop right here, you might think me special. I wasn’t. My car was a red MG Midget, possibly a ’74 and certainly a death trap….
    I think my mom thought I would die on a horse, so after I did fall off and landed myself in the hospital for a week, they ‘compromised’ and bought a red MG Midget, a 68 I think. Was fun for the two months that it ran out of the year that I had it ;). Yes, would I let my kids drive that on the highway where I could have easily zipped in and out under 18 wheelers, no way 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  18. My parents did buy my first two cars but I didn’t get one until I was a junior in college. The first one being a used Chevette, which was hilarious because I had teased my roommate when her parents bought her a new Chevette. When that died, I got an orange MG. I loved that car, although it seemed to go through alternators like gasoline.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Lynn, the alternators were disposable! So funny how many people I’ve heard from the also drove an MG Midget. They made for some great stories…Oh, and my best friend drove a Chevette!

      Like

  19. I was 11 in 1974 and relate to everything you wrote about! Especially the Jordache jeans & Candies! I am guilty of over-pampering our children, at times. I want them to be successful, and they are. They rarely ask for money and are grateful, caring, contributing, wonderful people. I am a parent who has allowed my children to work out problems on their own. Thank you for writing this article…it brought back some very unique memories from my childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Way to go, Janine! Sounds like you found the proper balance between the structure and expectations of our childhood and the engagement and support of our parenting now. So many people are searching for that! Kudos!

      Like

  20. Great read! I was born in 1961. I grew up in the country where there were no street lights and everything seemed miles away! We worked hard as kids and had to pull our weight! Times were tough back then,but everything you gained from those experiences were invaluable. I’ve raised 2 kids and shared stories with them and they laugh and listen but they really just don’t get it! I guess I’m the same as everyone else where we have spoiled our kids because of our childhoods. But I’ve always tried to instill in them about our past and history and how crazy things really are in today’s world! Thanks for great article brings back great and sad memories! Thankd

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My sister and I were just talking an out this (while venting about being unappreciated on the eve of Mother’s day). And we grew up in Greensboro in the 60’s and 70’s. We also didn’t have all the technology to distract us then.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I was also nine years old in 1974, so this piece resonated with me in so many ways!
    Today, Mother’s Day, gives me pause to reflect – our kids aren’t nearly as “hungry/ambitious ” as I’d like them or they probably need to be. I sometimes complain about dropping everything and having to pick my son up from everywhere at a moments notice, and then I keep doing it. Talking to other parents we share the same view but we can’t help ourselves. Our son will be getting his license soon and our friends are wondering when we’ll get him a car. Not gonna happen. One of his best friends drives him around in a Benz. Uh, just no.
    Great post !

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I was 9 years old in 1974. Lived in a trailer until dad built out house when I was 12. Never heard of trailer trash back then and always had so many kids in our yard since we had the corner lot. Mom and dad both worked and she expected a clean house when she got home. I was cooking full dinners by age 12. We ran all over the place and knew to behave because all the neighbors knew us. My first car was a rusty Toyota Carona that had no windshield wipers and I had to take the leads off the battery to turn it off. We had fun and learned to entertain ourselves. We had one TV that had 3 channels. One phone in the kitchen and had to sit in the broom closet to talk privately.
    This story hit home for me and I now know that my kids are spoiled because I made them that way! I did so much for them and ran myself ragged running them around to every club and sport while working full time. My daughter got a brand new car at age 16 because I was so tired of driving and working. That car meant nothing to her because she didn’t have to work for it. It didn’t last long.
    I’m now raising a grandson and this has opened my eyes for his good.
    Thanks for the great read and reminder of a great childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Beth! Our lives were so much simpler. I find myself nostalgic for those days often. No doubt in my mind that parenting is the most difficult thing we ever do. And though many people have written books on it, I think every situation is unique due to family dynamics and we just have to do the best we can. I applaud you for raising your grandson and consciously employing what you’ve learned in the past to improve the present and future. That’s what we should all aspire to do.

      Like

  24. Thank you for this article, it will be important to remember as I raise my daughter who is 4yr and son due in August. That there has to be a balance in wanting the best for them, but not always giving it to them. I totally agree that you appreciate everything more if you worked hard for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melanie, you have so much “wonderful” ahead of you and you’re already looking for the best way to be a parent. You are absolutely on the right path in looking for that balance. It’s tough to find, but it’s out there. My kids are absolutely pure joy in my life, even on the worst days. At 15 and 18, I still miss them when I’m at work. I’m so excited for you and all the love that lies ahead!

      Like

  25. Absolutely spot on! Don’t forget that somewhere between the 1960’s and the 1970’s, adults were brain-washed into believing that women were worthless if they didn’t pursue a “career”, leaving their kids at home or in daycare to be raised by a stranger. Did that stranger feel the need to teach the kids life lessons or skills that mom would have? No. Ask any young adult these days if they know how to darn a sock. How to can fruit or vegetables… or how to keep a clean house, clean vehicle or even how to do their own taxes. Do any of them even know how to properly carve a turkey or balance a checkbook?…. All these entitled, spoiled kids of today will be the clueless adults of tomorrow if the ‘s’ every hit the fan. No common sense… No incentive…. no desire. Are they stupid? No! Their college degrees say they are smart and driven. But in many ways, we’ve let them become the useless slugs they are today.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Nancy! I do think that changes in our world due to technology have caused a decline in people learning some of the skills you describe. It has also required society to learn a whole new set of skills that many people in my age group haven’t learned. I’m a bit of a dinosaur so I still have a checkbook, but many people have abandoned them completely. Certainly, there’s a nice balance between 70’s parenting and today. I certainly wouldn’t describe them as useless slugs. I do, though, think we’ve done them a disservice by not encouraging independence, letting them fail, are making the accountable. I’m greatly encouraged by the number of people I’ve heard from that say they recognize it too and are looking for ways to improve and rectify the situation. Thanks again!

      Like

  26. Being with children a lot your description rings so so true. I would love to give this letter to every parent that walks out of a hospital with a child. Thank you for the great read.

    Like

  27. I love this so much. I don’t have kids, but the childhood you described was EXACTLY mine (except my decrepit car was a hand-me-down 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham with the passenger door tied closed) (with ROPE). As a dog trainer, I go to family’s homes every day, and it makes me so…I don’t know – sad? shocked? disappointed? – to see how drastically different kids’ lives are now. You hit the nail on the head in so many ways. They’re missing out on so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tied closed with a rope….I love it!! On another note, I’m a dog fanatic and active in rescue. Thank you for your work!! People like you keep dogs in homes and out of shelters. Sending much love and admiration!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Loved the article and I feel like you do. I have already explained a lot of this to my twin 4 yr old girls, with many repeats to come. My favorite comment to them is that “My job as your dad is to help you grow up to be good adults that can take care of yourselves.” Isn’t that what parenthood is supposed to be? I’m not here to give you everything you want. I’m not here to kiss every boo boo. I’m here to make sure they have good values and make good decisions. That means I have to warn them, let them stumble at times and help them up to keep moving.
    At the risk of having this post deleted, there is one song’s chorus that sums it up very well (Dear Daughter by Halestorm):
    “These are words that every girl should have a chance to hear
    There will be love, There will be pain, There will be hope, There will be fear
    And through it all year after year
    Stand or fall I will be right here
    For you”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No way would I delete this post! Those are two extraordinarily lucky twin girls. I am so glad you read and took the time to comment. Partly because I believe girls face unique challenges now (more to come on that soon), and partly because I appreciated and agreed with everything you wrote. You are pretty awesome!

      Like

  29. Growing up in 70s and early 80s many Moms did not work full-time. Neighborhoods were perceived as safer places to be. Kids came home to Mom with a snack, (ok one oreo), a cooked meal; homework was done right away, there was a system. Today with both parents working, I believe parents feel guilty dropping kids off at daycare etc..Parents, therefore, take their money and spend it on their children out of guilt. Today Dads don’t go off and play golf, basketball, poker etc because their spouse put in the same amount of time at the office. Dad and Mom bind together to micro-manage their kids because they feel detached from them throughout the workweek, Throw in technology, more divorce and the problem mushrooms. I agree neighborhoods/childhood were much better back in the day. I had a wonderful childhood and roamed the neighborhoods with my brothers. We even got in fights, played tackle football and shot ben guns. My kids get a sense of the playground like through ice hockey, but definitely not the same as stickball in the street, building forts and playing kick the can.. Today very blessed to be married to a nurse who can work part-time but recognize that is rare… Our motto is raise all kids like they were the 3rd (we were both thirds and have three) so no to be on top of them and let them loose https://blog.dol.gov/2017/03/01/12-stats-about-working-women

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Wow! Thank you so much for this! Everything you have said here is so spot on! I have tried not to pamper my kids, and have still managed to do so! I think in wanting them to do more and be more than us, we’ve managed to do everything here almost! Especially my daughter, who as loving as she is, can also be a 14 year old terror!

    Sharing this! So many need to look at how they are doing things, even if they take one thing from this, it is progress!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy, I also have a 14 year old daughter. I think the terror part is just in the package, no matter how you raise them! You’re right. We all have good intentions and I think you hit on something important when you said we want them to do and be all they can. I think we started out trying to assist them in that and it snowballed. I can’t tell you how much I love the “village” attitude of us all looking around for better ways to do things and taking what works for us. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to share with me.

      Like

  31. Call my mom old fashioned then. I got a job while in high school that I searched and applied for, bought my own car with my own money, payed for my own gas, paying for my own college, etc. If I want something I have to pay for it. Truth is it’s better that way, teaches people responsibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Can I just say, this is perfect! I am 26 with two kids that will be 8 & 2 in just a little over a month. I pride myself in not being the trend setting mom that most try to be today. My kids wear “nice clothes” but only because I believe it is important to dress for success. They’re not tip top polo, but they don’t look like they just rolled out of bed and threw on something from the play drawer. My son (8) thinks he should have a phone and be able to do what all the other kids are doing. Well, I hate to burst his bubble (not really) but that just isn’t how this life thing works. If I think it’s appropriate, sure. If not, too bad. Most people consider me an old soul, at first I didn’t know how to take that, but now it is the compliment of all compliments! I do not plan to raise a spoiled, entitled brat. I have expectations and I do not negotiate. My daughter (2) is the most headstrong, hard headed, loving child I’ve ever met. She is literally into EVERYTHING. i swear I count to 3 at least 973 times a day. When we get home I don’t always let them come straight inside, I make them stay out and play(mainly because it keeps the girl from destroying the house while I try to prepare dinner.) it ruins my sons day to have to stay out with her instead of hopping on his Xbox. If it’s a nice day outside, you best believe you’re not laying up in my house. Most of the time I’m the “worst mom ever” and just don’t understand him. He gets a daily reminder that he’ll thank me one day! I’m so looking forward to the girl drama that’s bound to come!! Sorry that got really long, really quick lol but I loved this read! It reminds me that even on the worst mom ever days, that I’m doing something right and it’ll come to light in later years!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I was also 9 years old in the summer of 1974. Your article took me back to so many of the same memories you had. Thanks for making me laugh at how times have changed. It’s always a challenge to try to create a certain way of life for our children and families when it’s not society’s norm. But thanks to this reminder my husband and I will keep on doing our best to instill those ideas we grew up with onto our 21st century children.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. You are so right! I raised my kids in the late sixty and seventies and it was like you said. I couldn’t afford designer shoes or jeans. They got what was closest to it. My son was 12 years old and put together bikes at the hardware store to buy Christmas presents. In high school football games, basketball games, baseball games. Yes before school after school practice the inconvenience I did that too. Oh yes my daughter and her activities but I worked and no meant no I am not your servant. My son bought his truck at 18. He kept it until he was 26. All in all they are very responsible adults. My daughter has raised 2 daughters who work who have bought auto make payments and one who is buying a home. They are 22 and 23. So there is hope if parents will stop giving everything your child asks for says I want. Take away things when they miss behave have consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I was rasied in the 50’s and had the best parents. They gave us all the love and support we could need. We played outside all day. The whole neighborhood would play together. All the Mom’s treated each one of us as their own. We were taught to always respect our elders. Teachers were always right. So we had to work harder.. Thanks for the reminder, I am now raising my two wonderful stepchildren 13 & 11 .. I hope I can bring some of the old ways into their lives.. Thanks for the advice.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s