I am curious to know what people think about parenting in 2011. A bit of a simplistic question I know but do you think it is harder or easier than it was say 40 years ago in Britain. If that is too wide a question maybe, do you think being a mum in particular or alternatively being a dad in particular is harder or easier than it was.
I was wondering this in a very general non specific way when a family friend commented that lack of discipline in children is because there is not enough individual attention devoted to children by their parents (both mother and father) nowadays compared with how much attention children got in say 1970s
Is this accurate or a generalisation? I have not really formed an opinion (I am a mum of 2 not yet a gran)
Is parenting harder or easier in 2011 than it was in 1971 do you think(16 Posts)
That's a hard one, not least because I wasn't a child living with my parents in the 1970s but didn't become a mum until the 1980s. Some passing thoughts:
1970s were less obsessed with gadgets and so-called designer clothes so perhaps less materialistic. Nevertheless, children were astute enough to demand the must-have expensive Christmas presents etc.
1970s Neither adults nor children spent their lives interfacing with mobile phones and computers. These can be useful things but nowadays seem to be more the master than the slave. They must interfere with family communication – so important to establish before the dear little ones turn into raging adolescents.
1970s Less pressure on parents financially as there was less unemployment but then, of course, the three-day week etc. reared its ugly head in the middle of the decade.
1970s Care in pregnancy and childbirth wasn't so good technologically. Nursing/midwifery care was probably about as hit and miss, depending on which location, as it is now.
1970s Nurseries and childcare were even less available than now.
1970s House prices were more realistic and mortgages easier to come by than they are now (but less available than they became at the beginning of this century) so financial and housing pressures on parents were, perhaps less.
1970s Families were less child-centred than now and while baby-led care for infants still strikes me as the best way, things seem to have gone a bit OTT in letting the older little angels rule the roost.
2011 Pressure on both parents to have jobs makes raising children very difficult and expensive and can be demoralising for parents. This was less common in the 1970s.
2011 Some young children spend most of their waking hours with their grandparents (or childminders). Somehow this doesn't seem right for anyone – child, parents or grandparents. Grandparents in the 1970s were family rather than carers except for the odd helping hand, which is probably healthier.
I don't think parents took themselves so seriously as parents in the 1970s. I'm sure the word "parenting" wasn't bandied around then. They just got on with it rather than agonising in the way some newish parents seem to today.
No real conclusions. Probably someone who had children in the 1970s will post something much more sensible.
Well, the exhaustion was exactly the same, and the trying to fit 25 hours into every day. Not so many mothers returned immediately to work, so there was less money, and more stress on mothers from sometimes not speaking to a human adult all day, then trying to squeeze conversation out of a man who had spent the day working hard with other people and just wanted a bit of peace.
I'd say it was easier then in some ways because it had not yet been made into a specialist subject. You brought up your children more or less as your parents had brought you up. There were variations between one family and the next, but a broad agreement that children should behave reasonably well, and not expect the world to revolve round their every whim. Dr Spock 's books gave advice, but it was not prescriptive. He usually had more than one way to approach a problem, and he valued common sense.
Now child-rearing seems to have become something too difficult to be trusted to normal instinctive reactions. There are so many "experts" and so many ways in which parents afraid they will get it wrong, that many of them do not trust their own judgment.
I think it is harder now. I had my DD1 at the beginning of 1970 and DD2 3 years later. With a lot of make do and mend, grow your own and DIY we managed without my salary for 7 years until the DDs were both at school. DH worked 2 jobs and I did bits and bobs from home. I then had to change career as my original job was not compatible with child care, but we had realised what would happen when we started a family and had saved hard beforehand to tide us through.
I fully support the right of Mums or indeed Dads to persue a career but the problem is that the vast majority of careers do not allow a sufficient break for early years child care. This means that the children's upbringing is a bit like 'pass the parcel' with complicated schedules and no two days the same - the children are never bored but lack stability and routine, are perhaps, OVER stimulated, can become anxious or badly behaved. As for the Mums and Dads, they are constantly juggling the pressures of work and parental responsibilities, never quite getting it right, and therefore constantly feeling guilty and stressed.
I think the 1970's way of intensive child rearing in the early years was better for the children and perhaps also for the parents who could devote themselves to one priority at a time.
Yes, absentgran "Parenting" had not been invented in the 1970s. Parents were people, not an industry to be regulated or consumers to be exploited.
Nursery places were few and far between. My daughters went to a playgroup five mornings a week, where we paid per term for quite good care - books, construction toys etc.
My son (born 1970) went to a different (also paying) one nearer the house from about 3. It seemed fine to me at the time, when left at the door he seemed happy to go, though parents did not seem all that welcome inside.
Then when he was 5 and starting school, and I was (at last) without a child in the house full-time, the owner of this playgroup contacted me, knowing that I was an ex-teacher, and said she was about to give up and did I want to take over from her and buy her equipment. I agreed and borrowed £50 for the equipment and "goodwill". This was to be my new job, keeping my hand in at what I knew I could do, and bringing in a little money.
Maybe I was green to buy sight unseen, but when I took a good look at what I had bought I was appalled. The "equipment" was ex-jumble sale rejects - bits of jigsaw lost, dolls with one leg missing, books full of scribbles, lumps of plasticine reduced to that pinky-grey stickiness, some full-size ex-kitchen tables and some strange rows of 3 joined folding chairs (also full-size) from when the hall had been used as a church. The goodwill turned out to be nil, as only one child on the "waiting list" actually existed. Maybe the others had heard that she had been warned by inspectors that she would soon be closed down.
I discovered this when I opened for business next term with myself and one assistant (must have at least two adults present) for three children. The door opened and in came two strangers, all set to close down the enterprise. They were amazed at the transformation.
I had thrown out most of the old stuff, haunted jumble sales (this was before charity shops took off) brought in my own children's toys and climbing frame, made dressing-up clothes, persuaded DH to build a sandpit and saw down the legs of the tables, scrounged child-sized chairs from a nursery that was closing down, spent money on paint and paper, clay, educational toys etc etc.
For two years I built it up, taking nothing from it for myself for my five mornings a week work. I had to pay rent for the hall, pay an assistant, pay back the £50 I had borrowed, buy supplies and more equipment as more children joined us, keep the accounts straight and organise the free milk (which had to be bought and then claimed for) By the third year we had more assistants, and a waiting list, mainly of brothers and sisters wanting to join older siblings, but also newcomers coming in by word of mouth, or sent by the same authorities who had wanted to close down.
For another three years I was able to take a very small wage after all the costs were paid, but it was very little. Then one of the mothers was looking for a similar project, and I felt I had done my bit, so I sold her the equipment with the considerable "goodwill" and waiting list that had built up, and retired.
By this time (1980) the voluntary playgroup movement was in full swing, with groups of mothers setting up playgroups and sharing the work, since nursery places were still slow in appearing. The ethos then was on non-profit-making and co-operation, which I thoroughly approved of.
However I was rather taken aback at getting criticism from someone for expecting to sell, not give away, everything I had built up, because "It does not belong to you but to the playgroup"
Heck! I was the playgroup, and I'd started in debt and worked 2 years with no pay. And the new owner gave it up after a year.
I do think it is harder now as, in the main, two incomes are needed to manage a mortgage - and then there are all the problems of child care, just being totally exhausted etc. One of my Ds and family are in negative equity and their situation with 3 children in a small flat is desperate - they are well-educated and work all the hours that God sends.
And there is enormous pressure to be the perfect Mum- taking them here and there, making things for school so they don't feel out of it (Easter bonnets and such). I think it was easier for us - we loved them loads, but engaged in teaching them self-sufficiency and the ablity to amuse themselves - lots of loving healthy neglect!
Agree, some aspects were easier, not so much soul searching, more time, not so much pressure. But as mentionned in an other forum, no washing machine (they existed, but few could afford them), no disposable nappies. Adults were in charge in general, not a bad thing, when we see the result of OTT child centered up bringing. The sad thing is, mothers can't trust their instinct anymore, bringing up children has become a science!
It's probably more difficult as expectations are now so much higher than in the 70's. but sadly, it needn't be. I'd never been left with a baby before so I just got on with it with the occasional glance at Dr. Spock and a large dose of intuition. These days you can't do this, you shouldn't do that, you can't feed them x,y or z or they'll get allergies/ choke/hold it against you for the rest of their lives - because some 'expert' says so - well, mine seemed ok and have survived, despite dropping the odd one and leaving another in the car ouside the P.O. and then walking home without her .......
In the 70's there were fewer toys - we couldn't afford them anyway - and they were much simpler; they were happy with empty boxes to climb in and make houses from, wooden spoons and pans to bang on and later made camps in the garden or under the stairs and generally amused themselves without being glued to a t.v. computer or i-pod all day. In the summer we had picnics which were a highlight of their day, or went to a farm and picked fruit, or just went to the play park which had a couple of swings, a slide and a roundabout - not multitudinous climbing frames and things to climb up, whizz up and down and round on, and fall off. Life seemed much calmer, less fraught. The young these days seem to want to have their cake and eat it - however, I'm probably just being an miserable old fogey because we didn't have as many opportunities our children and theirs now have, which is probably what my own mother thought of our lifestyle in the 70's and 80's and probably her mother thought the same 25 years before that. I'm grateful we didn't have quite such financial problems that are prevalent these days although it wasn't easy; I'm grateful that I stayed at home with my children when they were young and didn't work; I'm grateful that they had a relaxed childhood and were brought up in a happy, loving home with both parents; I'm grateful that we lived in an idyllic part of the world where they could be free and I just wish that today's children could all have such an upbringing - is that too much to wish for?
Gally has summed it all up perfectly.
I think that we were the "lucky" generation, we were able to choose if and when we went back to work, we even had a choice of jobs. Mortgages were only based on one salary. We didn't feel the need to have a car to ferry our children around. We had the friendships of other "young mums" in the area for company. Children didn't feel the need to compete with each other about new toys, clothes, holidays or parties. Our generation didn't have the hardships that our own parents had to suffer so we had it good all round
I agree with Gally; there are far more (seemingly unnecessary) restrictions on parents these days, and many more pressures, social and financial. My daughter was born in 1971 and my son was four; even at that age, he had more freedom to come and go with his friends than my grandson has at nearly five. We were part of a Service community and almost every family had children - you always had someone's children popping in and out of your house, in pretty much the same way as when I was a child - close knit communities. Nowadays, children live further from each other - the children in my grandson's class don't live near enough to each other to walk to their houses - even if their parents would let them - so "playdates" have to be arranged. My son and his wife seem to spend an inordinate amount of time ferrying their two teenagers and all their kit and kaboodle to various get togethers, to sports events and drama groups and band practices and God knows what, because nothing seems to be local anymore. And there is this ridiculous obsession these days among parents that you have to be filling up every weekend and every school holiday with interesting things to do and places to go or otherwise you will in some way be blighting their lives! My grandson has a lovely garden, with a fantastic climbing frame in it and I doubt if he has spent more than a few hours in it all summer. When there is free time, they arrange outings for him. No wonder modern parents are exhausted! My kids used to spend hours in the garden, building dens and making mud (not mud anything, just mud!) - just playing, like we did as kids. And toys were just for birthdays and Christmas.
Couldn't agree more Gally and yogagran................my own daughter is working hard to 'revert' back to what we did but it is hard faced with the competitive nature of 'kid's parties'; 'christmas/birthday presents''; 'designer this-that-or-the-other". She is a single parent so does't have the money to compete - I admire her, she spends time with her daughter doing the 'simple things' in life, like talking, walking, and introducing her daughter to the delights of 'simple life'........... My daughter also works, no choice - she would love to be a stay-at-home-mum - it's what she experienced after all........but I guess times do change - but I wouldn't want to be a parent in 2011 - it seems a bit over-complicated to me. I enjoyed being at home with my kids whilst my husband was lucky enough to be securely employed - we didn't have a lot but we were happy and saw ourselves as being very fortunate.
OMG! Going back to my point yesterday about what you should and shouldn't do : my daughter who is staying here for a month went to our local Toddlers Group today in the Church Hall where one of the child-minders who brings 2 of her little charges along, changed the toddler's nappy, first putting on a plastic apron and then a pair of rubber gloves - I couldn't believe it
What ? Apron and gloves. The world has gone crazy
Artygran - yes, I too look back on our time in quarters, when the whole garrison was there for our children to roam in ( though I do remember a call from the guardhouse when DS2 wandered across the ranges!)
But I didn't have the choices that there are today - I was unqualified, on the move etc. So it was easier to be a stay at home mother, because that was what all the others did, if not totally satisfying. Life got harder when I finally got my first degree and began to cope with 3 children, a career, and the Army life....you can never have it all!
But yes, it's all a bit complicated today.