On stressful days, I just want to crank my DeLorean up to 88 mph and travel back to the 1980s, when parenting seemed less taxing and came with a far skinnier rule book. I’m not alone — a report from the Social Issues Research Centre found that nearly half of mothers think the 1970s and 1980s were an easier time to raise children. Unconvinced? Check out how simple it was for our parents:
- Instead of fussing over car seats, parents could toss kids in the “way back” of the station wagon and let them roll around like oranges.
- Everybody in the family shared one phone. Not only was a land line way cheaper than individual mobiles, but Mom always knew who was calling her kids — and her husband.
- It was totally acceptable to send the kids out to play after lunch and ask only that they be back by dinner. Or dark. Bug bites were a bigger concern than child predators.
- Swimming pools had diving boards, bicycles were ridden without helmets and newborns could sleep on their stomachs. Sure it was riskier, but think how much easier it must have been to keep kids happy.
- Flight attendants (back when they were called stewardesses) would bend over backwards to entertain your kids on the airplane, taking them on field trips to the cockpit, doling out coloring books, and awarding those coveted wings. Now you’re lucky if you can score some 2% milk.
- When a preteen son saw boobies for the first time, it was in National Geographic or (gasp) Playboy — not in a hardcore fetish video readily accessed from a smartphone.
- Childcare was a combination of grandma and the teenager next door who charged a buck fifty an hour. Today, our babysitter makes ten times that amount, but I’m pretty sure we don’t earn 10 times what our parents did.
- The most violent video game on the market was Super Mario Bros. To my knowledge, there were no “school hammerings” as a result.
- Remember the four food groups? Carbs were an essential part of the daily diet! Ice cream was considered a reasonable source of milk! Moms weren’t scorned for serving a microwaved TV dinner — they were just being modern and efficient. I reflect on this when I’m shopping for organic kale and learning to make quinoa.
- The lower back tattoo had not yet been invented. Need I say more?
I’ll admit, there are a few millennial inventions that help parents, like iPads and Xanax. And sure, not everything was perfect in the 80s — we probably sucked down a little more second hand smoke than we should have — but didn’t we turn out okay? On balance, I think the past is winning.
Parents, there’s room in my DeLorean. Do you want to join me in the 1980s, or do you think things are better now?