By Randi Crawford
I spoke with several moms in their mid-to-late 60s to get their perspective on parenting...then and now. I wanted to know what they did differently, and how they feel about the way that we parent our kids. This is much more than one article, but at least it’s a start. I’m not going to quote anyone directly, but I’ll paraphrase what was said to me by several different women.
In general...back then:
“If you had kids, you were a mom, and you didn’t make excuses for it. In fact, you were proud that you were a mom and you didn’t need to defend yourself to other moms about what you did all day. ‘Mommy bloggers’ didn’t exist and therefore nobody was sitting behind a keyboard dishing out advice on how to be a perfect parent. Your responsibility was to raise your family. Other moms were there to support you, not judge you for everything you did wrong. We were much more of a community. Nobody had ‘nannies’ to watch our kids, we all just had each other. If one of us needed to run out to the market, we asked a friend to watch our kids and vice versa. Today, everyone feels detached and separated. Nobody wants to ask anyone else for help. We parented as more of a team with each other, the school and, for some, church. If a teacher called you in for disciplinary issues, we dealt with it. We didn’t march into the school with our lawyers threatening to sue. Kids were held accountable for their actions, period.
“From our perspective, we didn’t have “time outs”; you were put in your room, possibly without dinner, and didn’t come out until you apologized. Some of us spanked our kids, others just put the fear of God in their kids that they were going to spank them, but never did. Either way, we had respect, which is something very different than we see today. We see very little respect for elders. Parents want to be their kids’ friend. It’s incredible how much information you all share with your children today. Kids know too much about things they have no business knowing. Why do you all want to be your children’s friend? Who is in charge?”
“According to my mother-in-law, ‘Society was more important than the individual.’ This leads my husband to a phrase that brings him back to his childhood because he can hear his mother saying, ‘The world does not revolve around you.’ This is exactly the opposite of what kids are taught today, that the world does revolve around them. Nobody asked their kids what they wanted to eat (or do). What an absurd thought. You made dinner, put it on the table, and your family ate it. If someone didn’t like what you cooked for dinner, they went to their room. They didn’t run to the pantry and grab a pre-packaged bag of extra cheesy goldfish, and a protein bar. Everyone sat down to eat and shared stories about their day.
“There was no ‘practice’ until 8 p.m. for multiple kids, cutting into ‘family time.’ Nobody was playing with technology, (because it didn’t exist), like we see today. It always shocks us (elder moms) to walk into a restaurant and see an entire family out to dinner, and every one of them is on their technology. Nobody looks at each other; nobody engages or talks, until the waitress comes to take their order. It’s the strangest phenomenon. Why go out together, if nobody is going to talk? We understand allowing the ‘little ones’ to play on the iPad so their parents can eat, but the rest of it is nonsense. Today, it’s all about the ‘individual’ because everyone is running in different directions for their kids. We understand that things are much different today, but at some point you need to re-connect with your family and make time. Don’t allow technology at the table. Have meals together during the week. It’s the simple things that will create the dynamic that’s missing today.”
I found these conversations fascinating and will dig much deeper each week.