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Were you brought up in the 1970s? Has it influenced you?

(105 Posts)
Maninadirndl Tue 23-Jun-09 09:23:02

I saw a Channel 4 programme recently called "Never Did Me Any Harm" about a Dad who gets no respect from his kids who takes them all back in time to the 1970s. It struck parallels with my own life then, and has influenced me now.

When I am dressing my kids and one of them says "I don't want that pair of trousers" I go nuts when I remember how little colour coordination or fashion meant in those days. You put on a pair of pants and that was it. In summer a pair of shorts to play in and oif they got mud on another pair etc. No thought as to what designer label it was or whatever. Now we dress them quite nicely in fashionalble stuff but which comes from the spring and autumn kids flea markets which are put on by the local churches here in Bavaria. I blame the 80s era for the obssession with designer rubbish.

Elsewhere on MN I saw some debate about whether "good" parents did crafts all day with their kids. My parents were too tired to do anything like that with me, I just got on with doing stuff like model trains or farm or whatever. In summer I'd play in the trees or build dens. I remember a huge amount of freedom to roam in sometimes quite dangerous places looking back. We lived near the sea and there was a railway at the back of our garden. Sometimes kids died as a result of accidents in trees or hit by cars. Is life safer now? Or is it "too" safe? There seems to be a fixation with child perverts in Britain which you don't get in the rest of Europe.

TV was actually quite a good influence. Blue Peter was a good programme then as was "Why don't You?" in the summer holidays making you go out and do stuff for yourself. Now that there are millions of distractions like mobiles and computers how many kids can do anything for themselves?

But on the other hand was it that safe? I remember Bonfire Night being exciting but looking back pretty dangerous. We used to have our own family bonfire with the neighbours bringing along potatoes and treacle toffee. I have wonderful memories but around me there were stories of kids letting off bangers in school and getting badly burned.

So here I ask, was life better in the 70s or worse?

Tortington Tue 23-Jun-09 09:36:11

well from yourdescription of it - life hasn't changed for me

until the kids became teenagers - there was no great love of named fashion items - my stock response to i wat ' get a job'
'i can't i'm only 8'
'well then, shut yer gob and put your pants on'

my mum always did crafts, we even dug up clay and made pots

i don't remember a lot of tv - i was always out - playi9ng up scaffolding grin or something qually dangerous

then invite my friends in and we woud make

sugar butties


melt chocolate digestives on the gas fire

i remember making toast on the gas fire - quicker than the grill

bonfire night in our house has alays been the affair you describe -= and still is to some extent.

wrapping up taters and throwing them onto the embers.

letting the kids poke around the fire with sticks and throw bits of wood on

the main difference is food

i remember a lot of buttered cabage with pepper

jersey royal new potatoes

english tomatos


but nan was a head cook.

i remember a twin tub - not a wahing machine.

i remember outside toilet - and nan digging through the snow so we could walk safely to have a poo - we couod wee in a bucket.

i remembr a boy wetting himself becuase he was about to recieve the strap from the head teacher - he mut have been only 7 years old.

i remember my uncles stories about how the police used to punch him through pillows if he was arrested - which was fairly often.

i remember a coal cellar and nan making up a coal fire every morning before she went to work - 1976

i rmember everyo0ne used to press money into my hand, the flower sellers on the market - wouod give you a flower

be careful of nostalgia.

Othersideofthechannel Tue 23-Jun-09 09:40:48

I often wonder about this. I feel sorry that my DCs won't get to roam in the way I did. But they probably feel sorry for growing up without a computer/games console.

Things were different.I can't decide about better or worse.
And of course things were different for different people.

To take your clothes eg

Designer labels were not an issue but I remember making a fuss about clothes in the 70s.

My clothes were a mix of cast offs from my elder brothers and bought new for me. Cast offs were for playing out (shinning up trees etc) and new (girls) clothes for school.

But I would argue with my mum because I wanted to wear my girls clothes for playing out.

I was very colour coordinated in the 70s. They were hideous colours but in all the photos I match. Eg Red, brown shorts, red and brown striped tee-shirt, brown cardigan.

So very different from your experiences Manina

This has influenced me because I am still a little nervous about wearing my favourite clothes in case they get spoiled. And because we are fortunate to know lots of older girls who pass things on to us, DD gets to play out in the garden in (faded) Monsoon sundresses. But I am not sure this is anything to do with the era I grew up in.

Hassled Tue 23-Jun-09 09:43:59

In terms of safety, in terms of likelihood of being abducted by a stranger, things are exactly the same. In terms of road traffic accidents, things are much more dangerous.

Yes, I was brought up in the 70s and my memories of the time are that I lived a semi-feral existence playing in the building sites of Dublin - taking putty out of window frames was my top entertainment. I can't remember any "let's do craft" sessions with my parents, or anything of that ilk.

However, I don't think that has really influenced how I've been as a parent - while I'm much more "leave them to get on with it/benign neglect" in my attitude than many of my friends, I do still have the need (which my parents didn't have) to arrange activities/provide "structured" entertainment.

edam Tue 23-Jun-09 09:48:13

Don't remember children caring about what clothes they wore, or commenting on each others' clothes. And there was none of this endless pink for girls, either - I had pretty frocks (and jumpers and trousers) but don't think there was any pink. Only wore frocks for parties - long Victorian style with frills at the bottom (think they were Laura Ashley).

With shoes, the big thing was did they have good grip for climbing muddy banks? If we wanted to dress up, we stumbled around in our mother's shoes, there were no such things as high heels for children!

My mother made some of our clothes and used to make miniature versions of her own dresses for my Sindy doll. grin My sister and I often wore matching outfits, then poor sister would inherit my cast-off outfit once I'd grown out of it.

We roamed for miles - when I was very small we lived in a village and all the local kids would go off down to the stream and swing on ropes, or across the fields. We knew any passing grown up would tell us off if we were up to no good, and that we could knock on any door for help if we got into trouble.

Bettymum Tue 23-Jun-09 09:55:04

I was brought up in the 70's. I'm sure I have rosy memories but I remember just being outside all the time with my brother and sister. That is when we weren't inside fighting. We spent every holiday on my aunt's farm traipsing round the fields and paddling in the streams. We rented a telly from Radio Rentals, we had it for 6 months in the winter monhts and it went back to the shop in the summer. We had one party outfit each, and all our other clothes were brown or orange, possibly crocheted, and mostly made by my mum. I had a great childhood and would wish the same for my DD really.

squeaver Tue 23-Jun-09 10:05:23

The main difference between now and then I'd say is the amount of freedom we had.

I walked to school (15 min walk) when I was 5. When I changed schools at 9, I went on a bus (public transport not a school bus).

We would go out to play (in woods, on the beach, in fields) straight after breakfast, come home for lunch, then out again until tea (and sometimes out again after that). I was certainly doing that at 8, maybe younger.

Definitely watched less TV but what I watched I remember very clearly (e.g. Blue Peter).

But yes the clothes were hideous. And even now I save new clothes for best (and I do it with dd's clothes too).

I also vividly remember the twin tub and my mum having a "washing day".

I honestly don't remember my mum actively playing that much with us.

CaptainKarvol Tue 23-Jun-09 10:07:27

I don't remember being outside as much as some of the rest of you (but then we did live next to a main bus route, so traffic was a problem).

Mum made most of our, and her, clothes - Clothkits and patterns. I got hand me downs from a male cousin, which were then passed on to my female cousin.

Some M&S cords traveled all around the country and lasted for 7 years or so.

I dodn't care much about clothes, beyond liking red shoes - almost impossible to get in the 70s. I wore one pair until they had a hole in the bottom!

As a teenager I was into Oxfam for mens waistcoats, rejuvinating my dad's old shirts by cutting off the collars and cuffs to make a new design, and being as paint splattered as possible (I was an 'artist', you seesmile) I don't remember anyone ever commenting on my trendiness or lack therof.

I remember walking to school and to Brownies independently.

I remember being horrified when our B&W TV was changed for a colour set from Radio Rentals because 'Playschool' had finished and some football had started while the bloke was setting up the new telly - could colour sets not get 'Playschool'???

I never went shopping for fun.

edam Tue 23-Jun-09 10:09:23

Oh yes, I was walking to school when I was six (often with our cat following, bless her) and back again.

nickytwotimes Tue 23-Jun-09 10:12:58

I was brough up in the 70s too.
My parents both worked and I spent most of my non-school time hanging around at friend's houses.

As for nostalgia:

my best friend was killed by a car.
My cousin died as a result of a tumour which is now a non-life threatening condition for the ids who develop it.
My half brother died because of poor maternity care.
One of my class mates was abducted and abused by a stranger.
I was abused by a beloved teacher.

On a wider scale, there was widespread racism and sexism.

In many ways it was a shit time to be a kid.

DOn't get me wrong, there were happy things too, or i wouldn't have made it, but I wouldn't ddescribe it as my halcyon days!

BonsoirAnna Tue 23-Jun-09 10:14:29

I was four in 1970, so my childhood memories are very much anchored in the 1970s.

We lived in quite a large house with a big garden in a very quiet cul-de-sac, and we used to cycle up and down the road, and even through the village to the village hall and sports ground for acting and tennis classes. And we endlessly played in our garden and our neighbours' gardens. We had a lot of freedom from an early age to arrange our own social life in the village.

My mother did lots of arts, crafts, sewing and cooking with us. She is very talented at that kind of thing (she was always painting and decorating the house, making curtains and upholstering chairs and restoring antiques) so I think it came very spontaneously to her.

We wore plenty of out of date cast offs (I have older cousins) which I hated, and my mother always bought our school uniform second hand. But I don't think there was anything very unusual about that. In fact, it was only when I first went to a state school (a grammar) aged 11 that I realised that lots of children had new uniforms - the children who receied a uniform grant (along with free school meals and councilo housing). There was quite a bit of inverted snobbery going on!

nickytwotimes Tue 23-Jun-09 10:15:46

(Sorry, I should say my half brother actually died becasue he wasn't vaccinated (measles), but that was becasue my Dad was worried about giving vaccines becasue he had severe medical problems from a shit birth.)

Drusilla Tue 23-Jun-09 10:25:38

Lol at still being nervous about wearing your favourite clothes in case they get spoilt! That has stayed with me as well I am very aware that DS has a life of luxury compared to what we had in the 70's, and try not to chuck material "stuff" at him. We didn't have foreign holidays, loads of clothes and toys etc and I wasn't aware that we had any less than any of my friends families. A birthday party consisted of a tea for a handful of friends in the back garden, no-one I knew paid for half the class to go bowling or whatever. Lots of DSs peers have parents a good 10 or 15 years younger than me, and I do notice a difference in attitude to material things with the them

Drusilla Tue 23-Jun-09 10:27:53

Oh yes, shopping was definintely not a leisure activity!

Maninadirndl Tue 23-Jun-09 10:40:24

I remember me parents buying a sprite MAjor and touring all over Scotland! Years back it was full of caravans then along came Spain and when I took my German wife up there five years ago it was empty! Then they bought a "Static" and we spent summers on Anglesey.

Kids are crazy with Bear Grylls at the moment. When I was ten I was always dreaming of surviving in the wild (my back garden) with a tin containing a polythene sheet and a box of matches.

Can you imagine that today? "That tent is the wrong colour"! And if you lit a fire would either the neighbour or "Elf an' Safety" come along with a fire extinguisher?

lljkk Tue 23-Jun-09 11:42:26

I used to play in building sites after hours and go walking for miles and miles with only my dog my company; my parents had no idea where I was and weren't worried at all about me, either.
I'd have Social Services at the door if I tried to give DS half as much freedom today .

Geocentric Tue 23-Jun-09 11:50:58

I was a 70's child too...

Main reason not to get nostalgic (for 1970's or any other period)? As nickytwotimes says - Healthcare. Which improves yearly let alone decade to decade (new research, new treatments...). Its easy to remember the nice bits about older days, but there's a lot more to be thankful for in regards to progress.

<I will now go away and be grumpy somewhere else and stop spoiling this nice thread grin >

edam Tue 23-Jun-09 11:51:44

Oh yes, birthdays and holidays have changed out of all recognition. Birthdays were friends round to play party games and special tea at your house - no-one I knew ever had a party outside their own home. Except one year my mother completely forgot to sort out tea & prizes for pass the parcel etc. and took us all down to the swings and for fish n chips - which my friends thought was the most exciting party ever!

Childhood holidays were in a caravan in N Wales, seeing grandparents/great-aunts and uncles. It wasn't because we were hard-up or anything, all the other middle class kids we knew had similar holidays. Didn't go aboard until I was ten and even then only because my uncle had set up his own travel business.

Enduring the Welsh weather on holiday builds character, I am sure! <mutters about namby pamby kids of today who expect warmth on holiday>

Bucharest Tue 23-Jun-09 11:52:19

You need to read "Where did it all go right" (growing up normal in the 70s)

I think, ultimately, if we have half decent parents, enough food on our plates and a shirt on our backs, most of us, in whatever era "grow up normal".

I was born in 1965, and yes, wax lyrical about the I'm sure the 30 somethings do about the 80s and the 20 somethings will do about the 90s.

There will be good things, and bad things, in every decade...

<insert Pollyanna emoticon for the day>

(I do hanker after my white plastic wedge clogs with yellow platforms that my Gran bought me, to my mother's disgust, in about 1972 grin)

squeaver Tue 23-Jun-09 11:53:31

Oh I love that book. Shame his next one was crap.

Bucharest Tue 23-Jun-09 11:54:43

I know- and the 3rd one even more uphisownarsey......

goldrock Tue 23-Jun-09 13:15:23

I can identify with most of the above - walking to school alone from the day I started. I can vividly remember walking home for lunch on my own as well.
Lots of hand me downs and home made clothes - I am the eldest and even I had second hand clothes from friends.
I remember a rag and bone man coming to our street with a horse and cart for any old/broken stuff. We had a twin tub and lots of brown clothes.
I did do crafts at home, one that sticks in my mind was an apollo spacecraft made from plastic containers.
I loved it all and try and give my DCs the same feeling of freedom and lack of materialism. Hassled is right, there's no greater risk of abduction than there was then and we live in a v quiet area so luckily volume of traffic isn't too much of a problem.

oneofakind Tue 23-Jun-09 14:41:37

ho ho, love this thread - brought back loads of mostly good memories. my mum used to kick us out of the house (4 of us) in the morning and we would'nt come back until nearly dark. we used to catch sticklebacks, roam all over the place, build tree houses and dens from scratch, meet loads of other children etc. The risks were always there; i can remember being 'flashed at' a couple of times and we played near water (but could swim). when I was 8 (mid 70's) I used to take my 4 year old sister to reception and once she got on a crowded bus without me and made it to school on her own!! I got a wallop for that!

Maninadirndl Tue 23-Jun-09 14:53:23

One of a kind - playing near water - that obviously means you didnt pay attention to what "Charley says"!!

I'd never dream of saying I was abused in the slightest - I think I was a nice boy tbh but I remember a particular teacher would quietly walk up to us and knuckle us in the back at age 9 - God it hurted - hey my youngest at 3 gets the odd one on the bum now which can't even hurt as he usually has a nappy on and very often laughs at me- but what kind of adult could actually cause kids pain like that?

The 70s werent all fantastic. Pubs seemed rougher then - there were always fights in my locals. Oddly enough when cannabis became more widespread in Britain in the 80s a lot of the fights stopped. However this in turn must have brought in even bigger social problems in its wake.

The terrorist threat in cities came from the IRA which was just something you lived around - bomb scares seemed part of life then. I can remember going to London with my parents in the early 80s and hoping to go up the Post Office Tower. When we got there and asked to go up it as I had done with my parents in the 70s the bloke there said it had been closed since an IRA bomb attack since about 1973!

wasabipeanut Tue 23-Jun-09 14:53:56

I suppose my 70's (born '73) childhood had some good elements including the lack of materialism and frankly top telly but it wasn't as brilliant as a lot of people like to think it was.

<wasabi mounts hobby horse>

I wasn't allowed to roam all day - yes I was given some space but the notion that all kids of the 70's left the house after breakfast and came back when it got dark is a bit rose tinted IMO. I had to report in at regular intervals and my parents always insisted on knowing where I was, and with whom. My parents also used to smack me, smoke in the car with me and my asthmatic brother in the back and generally be quite shit in a lot of ways.

One thing guaranteed to send me into a fit of fury is my mother or my MIL saying "well we didn't have all these books and you all turned out alright" which is true I suppose but I get f**ked off that wanting to do the very best for your children and reading up to that effect is viewed with derision by the generation that thought locking their kids in the car while they went for a drink was ok.

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