Parenting has changed hasn't it? And I can't say that these changes make it any easier. Here are some things that are part of being a parent nowadays that were not when we were young.
Playing with the kids
I'm sure my parents played with us occasionally, but they certainly didn't feel any remorse over sending us off to play and amuse ourselves with nothing more than our imaginations (even if it was just so they could read a book). Because guess what? Our boredom was not their problem.
Speaking of which, the guilt. This guilt gig is a new thing. We feel guilt about everything these days. My child isn't in enough activities; my child is in too many. My child asked me to play, but I don't feel like it. The list could go on and on. Did our parents feel guilt? It's doubtful.
I had a few cool toys when I was a kid, but these days neither our kids (or us) seem to be content with just a few cool toys. So, we buy, and buy, and buy, until their room looks like a toy store exploded.
Extracurricular activities weren't the big deal they are now. Every now and then a kid would become passionate about a sport or activity, but for the most part the rest of us just dabbled in extracurriculars. These days we're on a constant search to spark a passion for some activity in our kids.
Attending EVERY game
Nowadays if you skip even one practice there is guilt, but when I was younger my parents would send me off on a bicycle to my baseball games. By myself. I would bike there and back, and I would play for me, not them. It didn't bother me at all. That would never happen today.
I'm sure our parents would have laughed at the idea of a playdate. A set start time, a set end, a nutritious snack in the middle and possibly a planned craft. When we were little, we just ran out into the neighbourhood, played with whatever kids we found and came in when the streetlights came on. That was our playdate.
The Nosy Nelly
Our parents didn't have to worry about someone reporting them if their eight-year-old was out playing in their fenced backyard alone. In fact, their eight-year-old was likely running wild in the forest, keeping an eye out for the streetlights to come on. If a nosy nelly got involved at all it wasn't to rat my parents out for anything. It was to tell me off on their behalf.
In my day we had Atari and Nintendo, but our parents never had to tell us to come off of them. We had much better things to do with our time than sit all day with a controller in our hand. These days, we wage mental warfare with our kids every day over how much, what type, and when.
All this label reading, and frozen/fast food, was not an issue when I was young. Mom made a home-cooked meal every night because we weren't rushing off to yet another extracurricular activity. In today's society, quick meals are a bonus because we've always got somewhere else to be.
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Our parents never had to deal with as much judgement as we do, particularly since they didn't have to parent "online." Our parents didn't care what others thought of their parenting, and to be frank, I doubt they gave a fig about what Susie down the street was doing parenting-wise either.
So, as I look at these differences I think maybe it's time to bring back a little bit of old school parenting. Perhaps we should let the kids learn to play on their own, throw away our feelings of guilt, stop buying so much crap, reign in the extracurriculars a bit, let the neighbourhood kids play together and for crying out loud, stop judging each other. It'd be a good start at least. Here's to our parents for doing a bang up job!
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