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has parenting changed or was my childhood unusual?

(200 Posts)
pallyfally Fri 23-Oct-20 20:50:50

Should start by saying I do have great parents and they have always stood by me and are good fun. I see them a lot and we get on mostly.

I just wonder if anyone else had a similar thing growing up and maybe it’s just normal? My mum was a stay at home mum but I don’t remember doing anything with her growing up, yet now I’m an adult I see most parents doing things with their kids...taking them to play centres at the weekend, daily trips to the park, lots of walks, painting, cooking, just activities day to day.

I have a couple of memories of us doing painting but it was all highly controlled and stressful because of any mess. We never ever cooked as far as I recall, no cake baking for instance.

When my sister was here I would get her out of her cot, I was age 4, and we would go downstairs very early and watch tv. We were perfectly happy doing this but I just don’t recall my parents being around and it strikes me as odd now? Obviously we were well fed and looked after so they must have appeared at some point but I just can’t imagine having a four year old and 1.5 year old getting on with things on their own like that. It’s quite funny I suppose but just surprises me.

I always remember having a book read at night but that stopped by age 7 if not before which is normal I think. Christmas and haownee and Easter and birthdays very much celebrated and we went on holiday a lot and taken to museums etc lots of learning. I’m talking more about day to day life really and how I have no memories of doing much with my parents like that.

Is that sort of thing normal, some parents just not into the whole activity thing and doing things together on a day to day basis?

OP’s posts: |
SnoozyBoozy Fri 23-Oct-20 20:57:30

I definitely didn't do much with my parents either (I'm early 40s), my brother and I were very much left to our own devices. We were sent out to play and we'd usually stay out most of the day and just come home for lunch and dinner.

We did go on holiday (always camping, both here and abroad) and we did a few days trips, but mostly we were left to go to the clubs on the campsites and make friends with other children.

I don't feel like I was neglected or anything, but we do soooo much more with out kids, a lot of day trips or trios to the park etc, we play with them, read to them, in fact I sometimes think we do too much and they don't do enough on their own.

I think times have definitely changed though.

NaughtipussMaximus Fri 23-Oct-20 20:58:23

I think that sounds not dissimilar to my childhood - my parents were loving and we were well fed and clothed etc, but we were very much expected to make our own entertainment. We weren’t well off as my mum didn’t work due to a disability, so not much spare cash for soft play (did that even exist in the early 80s?!) or trips to English Heritage places etc, and she couldn’t walk much so no trips to the park. My dad worked long hours and some weekends, he didn’t really interact much with us when we were small. The highlight of the week was probably a trip to the library, but most of the time we played with out toys, read or ‘played out’ from the age of 6 or so. They claim they read to us every night but I don’t remember! But by the time I was 5 or 6, my reading age was around 10 or 12, so I read to myself happily enough.

Popcornismandatory Fri 23-Oct-20 20:58:44

I'm in my early 50's and my parents had me late in life. Mum wasn't in best of health but I went out lots with dad on walks which has given me my love for nature and baked and cooked with mum. No holidays until dad retired (I would have been around 14) but we had lots of day trips to seaside.

Crap thing is because they had me late I lost them early so they never got to see me settle down and meet my children

Hardbackwriter Fri 23-Oct-20 21:03:21

I think times have changed but also that you might just not remember a lot of that background, low-level parental interaction, etc. I don't remember ever being taken to the playground but there are photos of me there. My mum was astonished when she gave me a load of children's books she'd kept that I didn't remember any of them - 'you knew that one by heart, you'd make me read it every day!'. I have no memories of baking with mum but when I started baking with DS mum said what lovely memories it bought back because that was her favourite thing to do when we were toddlers...

I have a general warm, fuzzy feeling about my young childhood but relatively few specific memories (and those that I do have are actually mostly negative - being told off unfairly, an incident when my brother hurt himself and I was really scared) - I don't think that's unusual and I don't think it means no one was doing anything nice with me day to day.

NaughtipussMaximus Fri 23-Oct-20 21:03:40

My mum baked sometimes but not with us, per se. I do remember once making toffee with her, once making Christmas murals and once making pictures out of scraps of fabric. Those were the only times I remember doing anything crafty with my mum. I don’t think my dad really saw is until we were 10 or so and capable of having an adult conversation. Before that we were just cuddly blobs to him, I think!

StarShapedWindow Fri 23-Oct-20 21:07:47

I don’t think life was child centric back in the 70s and 80s. My parents were great but they took us to things that interested them, like art exhibitions and the ballet - a treat for us would be to visit a museum like the Natural History museum because they was considered ‘for the children’. Life now is centred around DC in a way it never has been before. My DC are the reason for most of our family days out, we bake, go to theme parks, go to playgrounds and adventure parks etc.

hypochondriacseveywhere Fri 23-Oct-20 21:08:39

Sounds very much like my childhood. We were very much expected to just play out or watch tv. My parents didn't have much money growing up so that could of been a factor. Total opposite to what my kids have now. I think it's expected more these days to take children out a lot.

Magicbabywaves Fri 23-Oct-20 21:13:08

Sounds like my childhood. Don’t think my mum ever took me to a playground, and as I was the oldest by a fair bit I know she didn’t take the younger ones. We came straight home from school and watched telly. No crafts or baking. Weekends were supermarket/garden centre/market. Was pretty boring to be honest.

newyeardelurker Fri 23-Oct-20 21:13:52

I'm a 70s child and did do some things with mum and dad. Baking with mum, crosswords with dad, lots of card games, dominoes, board games. But left to ourselves a lot too (me, brother, sister). My mum wishes she'd had us when it was normal to play with your kids, go cycling etc, she feels like she's missed out. But actually they did lots.

Coldwinds Fri 23-Oct-20 21:16:08

Society has changed.

And your childhood sounds very similar to mine. I wasn’t even allowed 50p to go to the local dance troop where as now most kids are in some weekly organised activity grin

Rainbowllama4 Fri 23-Oct-20 21:18:07

Same op, I was a 70’s baby and an only child, my parents never did anything with me, no baking, crafts, days out etc.
My mother read to me at bedtime but that stopped as soon as I could read myself. I played by myself or occasionally with my cousins, I didn’t have friends home to play, I went to a private school that they struggled to pay for, we lived in a tiny terrace at the time, my mum was ashamed of our small house.
I didn’t go to a playgroup before starting school. I don’t remember being lonely, I just got on with it.

My kids are nearly grown and when small at weekends we used to have a day out and a home day, I baked with them, did crafts, played games etc but also left them to their own devices.

I have a very good friend who had children later so hers are between the ages of 3 and 9, they don’t stop going from one activity to the next, weekends are busy, swimming, horse riding, one has violin lessons, the other ballet. They have no down time, no time to sit and be kids, watch cartoons, get bored and have to use their imagination. I think there’s a balance somewhere in the middle.

bluebluezoo Fri 23-Oct-20 21:18:53


Assuming this is an autocorrect or typo but can’t figure out what it is?

lovablequalities Fri 23-Oct-20 21:19:17

I can remember days to the beach, painting, baking and cooking, cutting peats, doing the hay, lots of reading, rounding up sheep, lots of walks, going to the library, cleaning the house, playing word games etc. We only very rarely went on holiday and almost always that was a holiday to visit a relative.

Pretty much the same as my own kids (although they have WAY more telly!)

gingganggooleywotsit Fri 23-Oct-20 21:19:32

I am early 40s and my childhood was exactly like this op. Think some parents were very hands off in those days. Not always a bad thing imo

slipperywhensparticus Fri 23-Oct-20 21:20:47

My mums sisters were babysitting her from around age 6 (they were six she was in a pushchair)

Both my parents worked but my mom woukd take random days off and take me to castle's and to meet the Queen mum we went to allsorts of places one school tried to say no so she just rang us in sick packed us in the car took us to Warwick Castle for the day both our childhoods were out there i think

Toilenstripes Fri 23-Oct-20 21:20:50

Same for me. I sometimes wonder if kids today get overwhelmed with all they’ve got going on. My brother and I did one after school activity each, once a week. Otherwise we were at home doing homework, then chores. Saturdays were all about helping clean the house and wash my. Dad’s car, not days out.

formerbabe Fri 23-Oct-20 21:21:08

Yes that sounds normal. Family life is very child centred nowadays...I got taken out a fair bit but I remember school holidays I had to polish and vacuum the living room every day and watch whatever my mum was watching on TV and fetch her cigarettes for her. I remember they employed a nanny to look after us who did lots of arts and crafts and activities with us and I was thrilled as I never did that with my mum!

YesIReallyDoLikeRootBeer Fri 23-Oct-20 21:21:23

I'm American and my childhood sounds similar to yours. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. We played outside with friends or played on our own (or with siblings) in the house. My father would take us camping one week a year. We would go to an amusement park once a summer. Occasionally trips to the lake. Mostly things in the summer like that. But total would probably be less then a couple weeks worth of things. When I had my own children I did far more with them and it occurred to me that it was much different to my childhood. I actually loved the freedom of my childhood and would not have wanted it any other way.

PhoneAddict Fri 23-Oct-20 21:21:38

I'm 35 and my parents didn't play games with me, however to be fair my Mum did a couple of things. I remember baking with her, and picking out what birthday cake to make from her Jane Asher cake book every year grin she also took us swimming quite a lot. However we were expected to play outside with the kids in the street from a very early age for the bulk of our day. And if we went to soft play (as it was in the late 80s / early 90s) there's no way my mother was going to crawl around with us!!

Coldwinds Fri 23-Oct-20 21:22:30


Yes that sounds normal. Family life is very child centred nowadays...I got taken out a fair bit but I remember school holidays I had to polish and vacuum the living room every day and watch whatever my mum was watching on TV and fetch her cigarettes for her. I remember they employed a nanny to look after us who did lots of arts and crafts and activities with us and I was thrilled as I never did that with my mum!

Christ yes! I had to bring my mums fags and lighter. Could only watch tv when sons and daughters had finished grin

nibdedibble Fri 23-Oct-20 21:22:55

A lot of that sounds familiar except the ‘go downstairs to watch tv’ because it didn’t start in the mornings till the early 80s.

But then I am in my late 40s

VirginiaWolverine Fri 23-Oct-20 21:23:46

I'm in my mid 40s, and remember doing a lot with my parents. Trips to the park, playground, library, swimming pool, museum; blackberry-picking; country walks and days out. And smaller things, like sitting round the table preparing beans or peeling veg, or making a salad dressing. Watching family TV programmes together. Having a weekend cleaning frenzy with loud music playing. Listening to music together. We talked about stuff a lot. I remember being little and bored and my mum drawing me pictures to colour in. Making Christmas decorations together. Playing board games with my dad, and listening to him read me stories, and when we were older listening to radio dramas together.

shivermetimbers77 Fri 23-Oct-20 21:24:24

Same here. We were taken out to places like parks and playgrounds etc but when we were at home we we just expected to go and play all day or watch tv. Parents would appear for mealtimes and bedtimes. I don’t remember any adults getting down and playing with me. I enjoyed my childhood though so don’t feel like I lacked anything.

ureterr1blemuriel Fri 23-Oct-20 21:24:59

I was an 80’s child and had a very similar unbringing. DM was a single parent so £ was tight, and whilst very loving/fed us well she didn’t do loads with me. I cannot remember being taken to the park hardly ever, not really read to at night, no crafting together etc (we did bake a bit though) and I had to just get on with entertaining myself with telly / playing out. Luckily we lived in a village and at 8/9 I was allowed to cycle a couple of miles away to see friends!!

Every summer I had to go to my DGM who would watch horse racing or black and white films ALL day. It was so boring - I hated it.

Times have changed so much. Today I’ve taken my DC to the coast and DM takes them out all the time. She’s even bought a motor home partly so they can take them on holiday!!

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