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Parenting - easier now or 'back in the day'?

(174 Posts)
Coughandsplutter Fri 14-Apr-17 07:11:15

Posting for traffic tbh. Ive got a toddler of 2.5 and a baby of 4 weeks. Yesterday I was chatting to parents about how bringing up kids has changed. Mum was telling me about her silver cross pram with seat fitted on top for me to sit on while sibling was in pram. She was on about terry towelling nappies and having to boil them clean. It wasn't a "we had it tougher" conversation, just a comparison between times. My parents didn't have much money or grandparent support so perhaps their situation is different from most. Mum had no car so everywhere she went was on the bus or walking. We talked about how pubs, supermarkets, shopping centres etc are all now very child friendly with changing facilities etc.

Not really expressing myself well as I'm very tired but what do others think. Was bringing up kids in 70-80s harder? Or 50s? Or was it just different pressures? Was life simpler then in some ways - no Facebook photo 'competitions' of who's having best Easter and check ins to the latest trampoline Park. Or is it easier now?

GnomeDePlume Fri 14-Apr-17 07:28:14

I had my DCs 21-17 years ago. A lot of things have moved on from then, mostly for the better but some for the worse.

A colleague of mine has recently had a baby and suffered with very severe PND. There has been far more sympathy and understanding about this amongst my other colleagues than when I had my DCs when it was something not to be talked about at all.

On the downside, every one seems to have an opinion now on how everything about childrearing should be done and feels free to share it! A mother's place is in the wrong! I was left to get on with it more.

Just my 2 pence worth.

Sybil59 Fri 14-Apr-17 07:30:56

I think parenting has definitely changed some for better some for worse.
You have a greater choice of parenting style nowadays where nappies, feeding sleeping and transport are concerned whereas in the past I think everyone did the same.
I do believe one thing has changed massively which makes parenting tougher and that is our child centric lifestyles. We are constantly entertaining and indulging them and it is creating pressure on ourselves and effecting their development as people. Essentially, children have too much and are not given the opportunity to strive for a toy or a special day out. The time between wanting and receiving is too short. Nothing impresses them. When you receive everything you ask for life is incredibly unsatisfying. I have also noticed there is a break neck speed race to be grown up, phones, makeup, boyfriends running alongside what appears to me to be a society of cry babies who lack the emotional maturity that we had in our less indulgent upbringing. This is simply what I have observed with my own 2 girls who are at primary school and their peers in comparison to my own childhood which I consider to have been a very happy one.

Sparklingbrook Fri 14-Apr-17 07:34:30

I have talked to my Mum about this. She said it was a simpler life. She too had the Silver Cross with me in it and my DB in the seat, Every day she would walk to the local shop and buy the dinner for the evening.

Dad had the car for work but Mum could drive. We lived in a road full of families and we were in and out of each others houses as we grew up. Mum and Dad were friends with everyone and babysitters were on tap.
School was a walk away which we did alone from age about 7. Mum got a part time job which she cycled to.

I remember getting the bus to visit my grandparents every month. It took two changes and was the biggest adventure ever. smile

Spikeyball Fri 14-Apr-17 07:41:13

I don't think my own life would have been much different. Ds's life because he is severely disabled would have been very different.

OwlinaTree Fri 14-Apr-17 07:41:35

I think it's easier in many ways. You can take children everywhere, there are changing facilities available pretty much everywhere. It's not smokey anywhere. Supermarkets are open 24 hours so no running out of nappies etc. Children's clothes are very cheap too. There are much better maternity benefits and child childcare options if you want to return to work. Women can parent alone without anyone passing comment, and mixed parentage is celebrated rather than commented on.

There may be more pressure to be constantly doing things with your children though, baby massage, swimming, gym clubs etc. I don't think that sort of thing was around when I was born nearly 40 years ago! There's pressure to be a type of mum, green, gentle parent etc, which there may not have been in the past.

On balance I'd say easier as the UK is a nicer more tolerant place now.

GrayJane Fri 14-Apr-17 07:46:28

Sybil - how very well put. Thank you.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Fri 14-Apr-17 07:49:26

I was going to start a thread about this!

The funniest and weirdest thing I think about was people selling actual cat nets because people so often left their babies in prams out in the garden to sleep/scream.

The hilarity of cat nets aside, parenting sounds pretty easy if you ignore (or can't hear) your baby screaming so don't worry about nap times in the crib. Also if you just shove your kids in their bedroom and ignore their crying when they misbehave, feed them formula rather than breastfeeding (so, so much easier) and have no concerns about them being out in the street/park etc all hours because "it was a gentler time".

See, most of the above would be considered neglect these days. It really annoys me when older people complain about how anxious mothers are now and talk about how they just got on with it. Thing is, we now have 60 years of studies (and therapists bills) to show what's been wrong with their parenting style so of course we're anxious to avoid those mistakes (or for our charmingly free-wheeling kids to get stuck down wells etc).

On the other hand, I do acknowledge that those parents (but if we're being realistic, it's mothers) had a whole other world of stuff to deal with. I could never give my kids the attention I feel they need if I was supposed to have an immaculate home with perfectly turned out kids in white, home-made clothes, dinner on the table for the man while looking gorgeous.

Too much Bewitched? Perhaps. Was weird though when MIL was ironing all our tea towels. I said, we just fold them and put them in the cupboard. She said no one will be able to say she has untidy tea towels in her cupboard. confused See also taking the mostly empty bin bags out 3 times a day because it "looks better". And oh the shock of her son changing nappies, carrying crying babies around, bathing them and all!

We have it pretty good these days. I also think we have much more acceptance of children (older posters please correct me if I'm wrong). I have older relatives who are/were a bit "children should be seen and not heard) but I find most cafes, museums etc are very welcoming to children (and their noisy fun) these days. Were there many cafes with sandpits in the 70s? I think it might be a bit of a golden age for the little tykes.

God, what a long post! I'd rather parent now. At all costs. But please give anxious new mums a break. We have a lot to be anxious about. I can point you to the studies that prove it!

*please no one take offense at the above claims of neglect. I'm stereotyping to make a point.

starzzzz Fri 14-Apr-17 07:50:05

My personal feeling on this is that there was very little goodness in the good old days, especially with regard to child safety.

starzzzz Fri 14-Apr-17 07:51:03

I completely agree with you IWas

I hate those Facebook memes about playing out on the street. So dangerous.

heron98 Fri 14-Apr-17 07:55:07

My mum had to go back to work when I was three months old as that's all the maternity leave she was allowed.

Sparklingbrook Fri 14-Apr-17 07:55:59

My Mum would often put the pram out in the garden and probably did have a cat net. But that wasn't so she couldn't hear us cry, we were asleep.
We played in our own street until it got dark and there were all the other parents watching out for us so it was very much a community.
I was very pleased that we managed to move to a street which meant our two could also play in the street in the same way.

As for feeding, there are still the two choices. I was formula fed because Mum really struggled with BF. 30 years on I too had to make that decision as I really struggled.

starzzzz Fri 14-Apr-17 07:58:46

I hate seeing children playing on the street.

Sparklingbrook Fri 14-Apr-17 08:02:01

Why? confused

We live in a cul de sac. Lots of children the same age. It was lovely for them to come home from school and go straight out.

WateryTart Fri 14-Apr-17 08:04:29

I was raised in the 50s. We played in the lane, hardly any traffic and what there was looked out for DCs. The car wasn't king then. We would take a bottle of squash and sandwiches and disappear all day from the age of about 10. We all stayed together and played in the fields or the brook or the rec. Sometimes we got paid by the farmer to pick potatoes or help bring the stock in. My mum was a working mum and still tried to keep the house perfect and cook every day. No disposable nappies, baby changing facilites, room for pushchairs on busses, high chairs in cafes etc. It wasn't easy for her.

My DCs were born in the late 70s/early 80s. I still used proper nappies even though disposable ones were available. They seemed too expensive. The world was becoming more child friendly but still no room for buggies on busses or much in the way of changing facilities. DCs played in exactly the same way I did. No screens to keep them indoors, thank the lord.

I'm glad I'm not a new mum now, although I accept a lot of things are better. Parents seem so afraid of so many things, from what I read here.

siblingrevelryagain Fri 14-Apr-17 08:05:07

My mom has always said that I have it easier than her in some ways with the money/technology (I have shopping delivered, my own car, tumble dryer etc, whereas she had to boil and wash our nappies in a twin tub and didn't have gadgets/a car), but i have far more pressure to have to have 'things' and a career. She said all her friends and neighbours had second hand non-matching furniture handed down from relatives, and being a SAHM was the norm, whereas woman of my generation are expected to run themselves ragged going to work/organising childcare/taking to clubs in the evening.

I was born in 1975, and my mom thinks she had it easier than I do now.

claraschu Fri 14-Apr-17 08:06:07

I love seeing children playing on the street.
I hate seeing children looking at screens.
We had more freedom and things were simpler for parents in the past.
I think everyone is under more pressure these days.

Lots of problems in the past, but these have already been mentioned repeatedly.

Violetcharlotte Fri 14-Apr-17 08:07:48

Do people not leave babies in the garden to sleep anymore then? Genuine question, mine are 17 and 15 and I did.

And what's the issue of playing out in the street? Not near a busy road obviously, but mine used to play out all the time. And there's always loads of kids out playing where I live now.

There are some things that are better now ( better facilities, no smoking indoors, etc) But I agree with pp who have said everything's far too child centric now. I grew up in the 80's, my parents were great, but at the weekends we did what they needed to do - shopping, DIY, gardening, visiting relations, etc. We sometimes went to the park if there was time. Days out were a treat. Nowadays, parents seem to spend their entire weekend fitting round their children's activities, parties, nap times, feeding times, etc. I don't think it's good for children to grow up thinking everything's about them. It's good for them to be bored sometimes, that's how they learn to entertain themselves.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 14-Apr-17 08:08:02

Bloody hell Sparkling - are you me? That's my childhood too, including the bus to my GPs with two changes!

CrumpettyTree Fri 14-Apr-17 08:08:47

Iwasjust I have an aunt who parented by leaving the baby down the bottom of the garden screaming. One of the neighbours told her she was going to start a petition to complain about the baby screaming so much! It did the child no good of course. He had behaviour problems later on and was a bit of a bully.

Sparklingbrook Fri 14-Apr-17 08:09:16

My Mum has said she is very grateful that soft play didn't exist back then. We both hate it. grin

Birthday parties were always at home. Party games and sandwiches, jelly ice cream and cake. No one upmanship-everyone did the same. So I think pressure was less than it is now. My Mum didn't worry about 'doing the right thing'.

PolarBearGoingSomewhere Fri 14-Apr-17 08:09:57

My mum always says that "parenting" wasn't a thing - you "had children." I think these days there is a lot more pressure to find a tribe - are you a Gina Ford mummy or are you crunchy? Buggy Babes, Baby Sensory, NCT - all pressure to find somewhere to fit in. She couldn't have told you who breastfed out of her friends... I have pages of emails documenting our struggles. Strangers on the Internet are a mine of information but look in the wrong place or phrase a question wrong and you 'll be kicked, hard, while at your lowest ebb. Constant bombardment of information make it hard to truly believe "good enough is good enough ", even though that's what you preach to your friends.

I think parenting in this information age is a real mixed bag. We never feel alone - we can talk to friends or strangers on a 3am feed about anything - but it can still be lonely.

Sparklingbrook Fri 14-Apr-17 08:10:21

Milk are you my brother? shock grin Did you sit at the front on the top deck?

starzzzz Fri 14-Apr-17 08:11:01

I just feel it's a bit anto social to other people who live there for one thing, as children can be pretty noisy, and it isn't safe - I accept cul de sacs and so on, but ultimately streets are designed for cars not children.

I don't think it had to be a choice between screen/playing on the street.

Sparklingbrook Fri 14-Apr-17 08:14:40

We never had any problems starzzzz. They weren't noisy and most of the play was on the pavements and in front gardens not in the actual road IYKWIM. Ball games were a no-no as that's anti social.
It was lovely. Mine are teens now so it's all in the past but the next generation are starting to do it and I have no issues at all.

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