Do you ever wish you could be the half-assed parents our parents were? I do.Please, take this with a grain of salt. Obviously I’m happy that our children are healthier and safer but sometimes I really think I’m parenting in the wrong decade. There are so many things our folks got away with that made their domestic lives so much easier than ours; it’s really got me thinking that ignorance is bliss…
1. Babysitters? Who needs ‘em? Oh my God, there were so many parties that involved smoking and booze and the kids were always there. No one had to worry about babysitters. Everyone just showed up and let the kids loose to run the streets and play “Ghosts in the Graveyard” or whatever. Frankly, I don’t remember our parents even checking on us. Try bringing your children to an adult party now and see what happens. Methinks you’ll end up on STFU Parents.
2. What’s a car seat? My mom used to just throw me in the back seat and let me negotiate my own seating arrangement, which was usually straddling the hump on the floor between the seats. Clearly I’m happy our children are safer. But can you imagine just herding your kids to the car and having them hop in? My mother never broke a sweat trying to adjust car seat straps. Ever.
3. Not being solely responsible for your children’s entertainment. Entertaining children? This is a symptom of parenting that is but a few decades old. I’m pretty sure my parents never thought for even one second that it was their job to entertain me. My siblings and I played amongst ourselves all day never expecting our parents to direct us in any way.
4. Not worrying about your vices affecting your children. My father was a chain smoker. Eventually he quit, but totally for his own benefit. Secondhand smoke wasn’t even a thing back then and I’m pretty confident parental guilt didn’t weigh into his decision to stop at all.
I used to be a smoker (waaaay before I had kids) and have been known to occasionally dabble. It goes without saying that I would never smoke around my kids, but do you know the kind of detox station I have to go through before I allow myself to even touch them after I have had one? It puts the Silkwood shower to shame.
5. Drinking during pregnancy — or whenever. My mother told me she had one whisky sour every single night of her pregnancy with me. Seriously? I would have the occasional glass of wine but only after googling all the ways in which I may have been impairing my fetus. I could never even enjoy a whole glass thanks to the Google-guilt trip.
6. Shrinky Dinks! Need I say more? Our parents baked plastic in our homes, and we stood there with our faces pressed against the oven door shrouded in toxic fumes. Now it takes me hours to find the perfect non-toxic, BPA-free, not-made-in-China toy. It’s exhausting.
7. You could yell at your kid in public. You could totally yell at your kid in public without someone calling child protective services. Now we have to grind our teeth and feign patience and sweetness. I have never been hit in my life and would never hit my child either, but sometimes even when I use a stern voice in public, people look at me like I’m Joan Crawford.
8. Kids didn’t dictate dinner. I don’t recall ever being asked what I wanted to have for dinner. Ever.
9. What child-proofing? Child-proofing? What child-proofing? I know what it feels like to be electrocuted (mildly), to touch a hot stove, to fall down stairs and to burn the shit out of my mouth with hot food. My child doesn’t have a clue, and he never will thanks to my utter paranoia and proficiency with child-proofing. I’d like to think my child would survive even if I wasn’t single-handedly protecting him from the Darwin Awards.
10. We love our parents anyway. Our parents threw us in the back of pick-up trucks, let us play with matches, and never treated us as individuals with preferences. We still love them. Now, we’re afraid if we let our infants cry for a few minutes too long and don’t treat our toddlers as equals we are dooming them to a life of reclusion and therapy and they’ll hate us forever.
Related post: Five Reasons Parenting Was Easier in 1984
This post first ran on Mommyish