Then and Now
Considering I am only 33 I don’t have very much knowledge of the parenting differences in the past 50 years. I was wondering what the big differences were from then to now. I decided to take a survey and do a little research to see how different the styles of parenting really are now.
Why do we have a fixation with parenting?
One possible explanation comes from the issues parents face in raising children in today’s society.
The media regularly report national statistics such as:
- every 1 second a public high school student is suspended
- every 9 seconds a child drops out of school
- every 4 minutes a child is arrested for drugs
- every 3 hours a child is a homicide victim
Parents are also frequently reminded by the media that child-rearing issues faced in the 1950s—such as children chewing gum in class, talking out of turn, and not cleaning their rooms—have been replaced with more serious issues such as drug addiction, suicide, violence, and teen pregnancy.
These messages can scare parents into the perception that parenting styles and methods today are more important than in past generations. Concerns about the importance of parenting in today’s society are strongly reinforced through our exposure to prevention efforts in the areas of drug abuse, violence, and teen pregnancy.
While parents should play a critical role in prevention efforts, these ideas indirectly suggest parents are the cause of many of the problems facing youth today.
The “parents are to blame” belief is further reinforced in the way the media portrays modern parenting styles.
Television has moved from Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver to more controversial programs such as South Park, The Simpsons, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It is no wonder that many in our society perceive parents as unable to “control” youth.
What do you Think?
I asked on my various social media platforms what other moms thought about this subject, And reflected on their answers.
Here are some of their answers:
The Coffee Mom commented:
“…one of the biggest changes is that, we as parents are more involved with our children. Especially fathers now are more loving and involved, many are even SAHD (stay at home dads)
My thoughts on this specific comment:
I do agree to a point. I also think that the reasoning behind those SAHD is more the effect of those men not being able to find a job, and not having another choice but to let their wives/SO become the sole bread winner. Which, some people might think is a good thing, I believe that its easier for women to be the stay at home partner (not because I think women “should” be the domestic) but, because we are the nurturer and its ingrained in us to be the homemaker.
Rebekah Martin from My Circus My Monkeys commented:
“…the amount of freedom and independence we give (or don’t give) to our children…. I remember riding my bike around for hours and just had to be home for dinner.
My thoughts on this: Yes, I completely agree with this comment. Even just about 15 years ago I remember being able to go outside for hours at a time. I would have to be in the house by the time the street lights came on at night. Nowadays, there are almost no children out riding bikes or hanging with friends.
Marielle Petkoff from The Resplendent commented:
“I think technology is the biggest difference. It affects so many aspects of parenting and the way children are raised. … With everything on the news and Facebook, we are much more of a fear-driven society.”
My thoughts: I also agree with Marielle. This day and age we are bombarded with news stories of missing and abducted children. It is so easy to be afraid and just keep our little ones close to us. They need to be able to be children and explore and learn the world.
Amaris Bannon Beecher from Crumbs and Glamour commented:
“More couples probably stayed together. I wish the divorce rate was lower. Children need both parents at home.”
My thoughts: While I agree very much with this comment. Having both parents together would be ideal, it is just not possible. Staying together for the kids is probably what most couples did back then. But, when two people are no longer happy together the tensions can be very high. Arguing in front of children was a big problem back then. While it is very sad divorce is a necessary part of life.
“chores are far less extensive and physically demanding, boredom is more prevalent”
My thoughts: Absolutely! I remember not being able to go out on any night, let alone a school night, if my homework/chores were not done. Also, on a side note, if I claimed to be sick and didn’t go to school, my butt was NOT going outside at all that day.
“I wish parents would be more strict nowadays like my parents and grandparents were”
My thoughts: YES! Parents these days want to be their childs “friends”. And hang out with them. Go get mani/pedi’s while sipping on vente Starbucks half caff latte’s or whatever. I am not my child’s friend, I am her parent and I will treat her as such until the day I die. I will always know better no matter how old she gets. 🙂
“I like that we don’t force kids to finish their plates… we need to teach them to listen to their bodies when they are full.
My thoughts: Yes, I always tell Allie that she needs to eat a little bit of everything. Then I ask her twice if she is sure she is done. In my opinion forcing children to eat forms a negative relationship with food and can lead to a problem in the future.
“kids being able to play outside all day and you didn’t have to worry”
My thoughts: Agree (refer back to Rebekah Martin’s comment from FB)
“I think there are a lot of people with the perception that discipline is somehow cruel and there are so many children that are entitled because rules aren’t enforced”
My thoughts: Yes, completely! This says it all.
“I think there has been a definite decline in the respect department”
My thought: Yes, the lack of discipline and structure these days has led to children disrespecting any type of authority figure, especially their own parents”
“I wish that parents spent more time with their kids and not so much time allowing electronics babysit them.
My thoughts: I absolutely agree. It is very sad the way technology has taken over for parenting these days.
“Kids are exposed to too many things way to early”
My thoughts: I agree. This day and age there are way to many “adult” type things that we are giving to our young children.
I did some research on the effects of societal changes in the past 50 years and here is what I learned.
There is a trend for families to live very disconnected lives in our society. The factors that lead to this trend, include:
- young families moving away from extended family members;
- the increased rate of single parents; and
- free time limitations due to the work schedules of dual-income or single-parent families.
We as parents spend more time working to provide for our children’s basic needs and less time providing for their emotional needs. Because of this, we are participating less in social and community activities and interacting less with family members and friends. Which means we are receiving less emotional and mental support in raising our children.
It is important to remember that, in addition to parenting, children are impacted by various influences occurring at the individual, family, community, and social level. Parenting is not solely at the family level but within a larger network of interdependent sections. Parenting and families do not develop independently, and they typically reflect the problems of the larger society.
Whether at the individual or social level, stress can negatively impact parenting. Parenting styles are also influenced by the popular advice of the times. There have been several parenting experts who have influenced large numbers of parents. Social factors such as politics, religion, and media often influence the advice provided by experts. Thus, the advice offered by experts is often conflicting, and parents are left confused by the different advice they are offered.
We all deal with stress on a day to day basis. When we think of the effect of stress on people in general, we think of problems like headaches, hypertension, heart attacks, increased smoking/drinking, strokes, and various other medically related problems. But, stress can also have a large effect on parenting.
Actually, stress may be a major contributing factor to many of the parenting changes occurring in our society. Because of this, it is clear parenting in today’s society is occurring in an increasingly stressful atmosphere.
Parenting stress inducing points include:
low social support
negative life events
and difficult child temperament
Parenting stress coincides with:
- inconsistent parenting (lax or overcompensating)
- more negative communication
- decreased monitoring/supervision of children
- setting unclear rules and limits on children’s behavior
- being more reactive and less proactive and
- increasingly harsh discipline
As the stress increases, the parent-child relationship suffers, and we are less involved with our children. Parent-child relationships often become more problematic when parents are stressed by minor “daily-hassle” events.
My final thought:
It is easy to be critical of other parents and their efforts; but, there is much more involved than simply they must not care or are obviously doing the “wrong thing.” This parenting thing is difficult under the best of circumstances. For more and more parents these days, the stresses in our society are making it very difficult to parent effectively. It is important to remember that parenting occurs within the context of a society, not in isolation, and parenting problems often reflect society’s problems. And, we all know how that is currently working out.
So, the next time you see a mom in the grocery store in pajamas or in line at Starbuck’s with a child on her hip, remember we are all in this together. Don’t judge her because you don’t know her story.
We all need to start loving each other instead of spreading so much hate.
It doesn’t matter what decade we are in or what country we come from or what religion we worship or the color of our skin, we love our children with every fiber of our being.
If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who was becoming a first time mom this year, what would it be and Why do you think that advice is important?