There’s a bunch of reasons parents have it easier nowadays than parents 50,60,70 years ago. Medicine alone is reason to thank God. Think of how many childrens’ lives were spared because of penicillin.
But let’s face it. The 21st century has thrown parents today some curve balls. And here’s seven reasons parenting is harder nowadays.
1) Television -Let’s face it. Even when the television show itself isn’t bad, the commercials are practically soft core porn. Thank goodness for the DVR so you can fast forward commercials. But also, every father is portrayed as a boob which is exactly opposite of how they used to be portrayed. Compare the way fathers today are portrayed with men like Robert Young from “Father Knows Best.” The disrespect shown to fathers on just about every television show can’t help things.
2) Internet – The internet is great for many reasons. Hey, I’m a blogger so I’ve gotta’ like it but let’s face it, it can be like drilling a peephole into Hell and you’ve got to monitor the kids constantly even when they’re doing a project. Hey, you never know what’s going to come up when they’re working on a paper on the French writer “Balzac” or maybe a paper on “Uranus.”
Never mind WebMD which can make you think your kid’s contracted beriberi when they’ve actually just got a cold.
3) Seat Belts -Back in the old days if the station wagon got too loud all my Dad had to do was slam on the brakes and we’d all go flying around and hold on to each other for dear life. The kids in the cargo space in back would find themselves upside down in the back seat and kids from the back seat would be crumpled on the floor. My poor little sister who was sitting on the armrest (which was really just a vinyl baby catapult) would be changing the radio station with her ear. But hey, it was just a way for my Dad to reshuffle the deck. Can’t do that anymore. Nowadays, kids are all buckled in.
4) Can’t punish other people’s children – Nobody seems to punish their kids anymore. I do. In fact, my oldest asked me why was it that she was constantly punished at home but never in trouble at school. I told her that it was because she was constantly punished at home that she didn’t get in trouble at school.
But when I was a kid it was assumed that neighbor’s parents had the ability to punish you. I remember one woman who lived behind my parents tackling my brother Patrick. (It was awesome!) I think a little fear in a kid that hey, if I act up that lady who’s watering her flowers might take me down me and drag me home to my mother is a good thing. Yeah, I said it, fear can be healthy.
5) You can’t just send kids out to play anymore.- When I was a kid we ran out the door at 10 a.m. and maybe came back to throw a sandwich in our mouths at lunchtime and then we disappeared again until dinner. If my parents even asked me where I was I’d probably just say “all over” and leave out the fact that a lady with a watering can had chased us.
Nowadays, you just can’t let your kids out like that. I don’t know if the number of creepy dudes in unmarked vans is increasing but we sure know about them more so we don’t let our kids out of our sight. That means a lot more work for us, more organized activities, and play dates.
6)Dual incomes. – If everyone around you is earning dual incomes, it makes it a lot harder for parents to stay home with their children. So if you do stay home, it’s a bit economically tougher than it would’ve been a few decades ago.
And you’ve got many parents working double jobs -one in the office and then trying to fit all their nurture/bonding time into little increments between dinner and bedtime with their kids. That’s tough mainly because parents who only get to spend an hour or two with their kids don’t want to spend that hour punishing their kid so they overlook a lot in order to have a nice quiet night.
7) Too many parenting books. – Way too many parenting books. So you’ve got all sorts of parents reading these things and over thinking every situation so much that they lose their common sense. Alert to parents – Sometimes a kid being a brat isn’t a cry for help. It’s just a kid being a brat. Punish them. Don’t try to be their friend. Be their parent. It’s harder for you but it’s better for them.
So those are my reasons for thinking parenting is harder (in some ways) nowadays. I’d write more but I’m exhausted. We had two playdates yesterday and I’m pretty sure my youngest has beriberi.
September 7, 2011 at 5:58 am
You forgot homeschooling. Once upon a time… a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. a Catholic family could send their kids to a Catholic school and expect them to learn their Faith along with their geography and algebra. But now, the parents who truly value a Catholic education need to be teacher/ nurse/ janitor/ lunchroom monitor/ preschool teacher/ bus driver/ Geometry tutor and all on one income. I love my kids, but I wish there was an orthodox, vibrant Catholic high school I could trust. Oh, wait, with being open to life, I couldn't afford to send my 10 children to private Catholic schools, even if I DID have a good one close by. 15 years of homeschooling. I'm tired.
September 7, 2011 at 10:48 am
The greatest difficulty I've experienced is none of these trivial matters referred to, but the lack of a support structure for parents. Long ago, parents were surrounded by the extended family who would help raise the kids. Today, parents are alone. For various reasons, they get little or no help from parents, brothers and sisters, or grandparents.
September 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm
Modern food makes parenting more difficult. We have something like 17,000 products on supermarket shelves, most of which are just simply not very nutritious. As much as you can do to keep your kids trash-food free in your own home, its really hard to deal with this out in the world. For so many children we know, 'treat' is not a word, and what we call treats are what they are eating every single day.
Our local Catholic school used to hand out something on the order of 6 servings of sugar (cereal, juice, cupcakes etc.) each DAY to preschoolers.
I would love to live in a pre-convenience food world, just to see what it was like.
September 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm
The Hardest part of parenting is the professionalization of everything.
Baseball, ballet, piano, cubscouts, soccer, academics, you name an activity, there's a scouting tripple A farm system waiting to tell you that little johnny can't play ball unless he participates in this ultra pure perfect instructional program that will require a signed contract by you to get him there on time, sell cookies at the fair and fork over 400+ dollars for the ten weeks of sport bootcamp hell. We used to think such parents who agreed to this were insane, they still are, it's just there's a whole lot more of them.
Food police measure, mark and take note of everything you send, and all your kids eat, and whether their BMI is appropriate. We used to have a word for such people, busybodies.
Academic Brinkmanship: where 1) you know the kid didn't do it. 2) Everybody knows the kid didn't do it. 3) the kid gets an A.
and the correlary:
You made your kid do it.
It looks like your kid did it.
Your kid gets a B or worse.
Squawk and you're told there's nothing to see here people, move along. Say nothing and you kid thinks…I got a B. I'm the world's biggest sap.
September 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm
Good list. #5 and #6 are the worst ones in my opinion.
#1 can be controlled pretty easily if you just pull the plug on your cable or satellite TV service, and don't hook up an antenna — then just buy or rent DVDs if you want to watch TV. Or if you don't want to go that far, then set the parental controls on your TV to block out TV-PG and higher, or TV-14 and higher. Oh, and no TVs in bedrooms of course. 🙂
#2 can be partially solved by installing web filtering software, and by having only one computer in a public area of the house. We found a free program (K9 Web Protection) that works well. Though still you do have to monitor what they are doing.
Of course, all of this is easy for me to say, when my oldest isn't quite 8 years old yet. I may find it to be not so simple once we have teenagers.
September 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm
Right on about letting the kids out to play. When I was a kid growing up on Long Island in the 70's, we were ORDERED out of the house to play. We would spend hours in the trees, we would ride our bikes all over creation and we made up games with the neighborhood kids that were just awesome.
We played one game with about 6-10 kids on hot summer NIGHTS that sprawled over 2 suburban blocks width and 5 or 6 yards in length. We ran around and hid in bushes in the dark then burst out to try to tackle each other. It was heavenly.
During the day we would be sent out into the backyard and we could climb trees there or make mud pies or whatever.
Now? My kids stay inside unless I am with them.
The good news is that now we have cameras and GPS with which we can monitor them. I am waiting for the kid friendly UAV so that we can just have it loiter over them and we can see their heat signature on our wrist watch. If they are in danger, WHOOSH! we can fire off a missile. HA!
September 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm
You've ain't seen nothing yet! Just wait until you get to the college years. And ditto to what everyone else said.
September 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm
Ditto – specially on the lack of time. Perhaps, it is time to scale back to a simpler lifestyle and focus on what really counts i.e. the character formation of children. That cannot be delegated to the schools.
September 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm
I would take all these well-described and hated burdens and more, as long as I had the freedom to educate my children at home. It was unheard of in my era. This has added so much to my quality of life and has made my parenting SO enjoyable. I know that it's hard, but I love it. Instead of delegating everything to experts (SherryTex said it well), I get to see my kids blossom intellectually and spiritually first hand and also grow along with them. That feeling of commaraderie and common purpose is what animates my days…
September 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm
5) You can't just send kids out to play anymore.
This x 1000.
I hate that I can't send my kids out to play. When we do outside time, I have to be within ten feet of them at all times, which means I don't get any of my housework done, which means we don't go out all that often. It's a horrible feeling, not being able to trust anyone around you. But the way folks behave nowadays, I absolutely don't trust other people. Frankly, I have family members I don't trust to competently watch my children.
September 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm
Number 3!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! SO TRUE!
September 8, 2011 at 3:06 am
Regarding #1- I also hate how dads are portrayed on TV nowadays… it's so sad. Although I do love Mike Heck on the show The Middle. They portray him as a hardworking, no-nonsense kind of guy. Who loves sports, but not in a "I'm going to sneak out of going to the opera with my wife by throwing a fake surprise party" or some other dumb plot like that!
September 8, 2011 at 4:25 am
I went to a town hall meeting when we first were stationed at Ft. Leavenworth. Living on post, we had specific "rules" about ages that children were allowed to be left unsupervised. This delved into children playing outside alone. One woman was VERY vocal about how she watched her neighbors leave their children outside and the kids were between the ages of 7-11 and she didn't think it proper. (These kids…most were sets of siblings.) Being the mom to many, I had to ask her "So what do I do? I let my older two out to play, they're both very vocal, they're both orange belts in Karate, and they're RIGHT OUTSIDE MY FREAKIN WINDOW and they're with a huge group of friends AND I can hear them loud and clear… will you call the MP's on me for neglecting them or my infant that I left in the house because he's still on a twice a day nap schedule and you want me to be a babysitter to my older kids when I could be getting dinner ready or housework done while all the kids are out of my hair by either playing (ergo burning off energy) or taking a nap? How many kids do you have again?" (she admitted to having one school aged child)
I truly believe many younger families don't want to live near their relatives BECAUSE of all the parenting advice books and crap. Those books have brainwashed many new parents into believing they were abused as children or their parents were crappy, therefore they don't want to end up like their parents. The ones that actually believe they were abused don't want their children exposed to it, yet in reality, they weren't abused at all but rather parented. (I'm aware that real abuse occurs, that's not the point I'm making)
September 8, 2011 at 6:02 am
#… I'm not sure what…
It's tougher because the same cousins whose parents didn't bother to raise them, who you had to watch even though they were older, had their two children already– and are giving you "advice."
There's also the way that many people in general assume they have a right to know about and comment on your reproductive system.
If one more person is shocked that I didn't sterilize myself when our second daughter was born, or doesn't hold their tongue rather than launching into a speech about how we're "trying for a boy for Elf," either in support of it or about how we'll "fill the house with girls" that way, I may get cranky. -er. Definitely verge on unkind to the extreme. At least I've gotten the point across that you do not bring up the overpopulation propaganda around us….
September 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm
Yeah and that one about not being able to discipline other people's kids….
Not that I WANT to do that but, even when they are in MY HOUSE, I feel hamstrung. The worst is when they are relatives. At home my nieces and nephews are allowed to do whatever they want.
They come over and I find my mouth nearly full of blood having to bite my tongue so hard, "Um, would you please tell your 4 year old boy to stop hitting and humping my 2 year old girl?" (BEFORE I RIP HIS HEAD OFF!!)
"Ohhh ha ha… isn't he a silly?"
Seriously – what is WRONG with some parents?
Used to be a time when there was some kind of universal code and parents could just say, "Hey KNOCK IT OFF" to ALL of the kids in the room – in front of the other parents and all parents would just nod in agreement.
I know because I was one of those kids.
September 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm
#5–and all the weirdos that make you afraid to let the kids out to play by themselves also result in awkward restrictive rules for the rest of us. Going into a grade school feels like entering NORAD.
This came home to me a few months back when I was teaching English in a primary school in India. Before we began, during our orientation, I asked our coordinators about rules regarding interaction with the kids, if we had to go through safe environment training or something similar–and they just looked at me like I was a space alien.
September 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm
@D. G. D. Davidson: SO TRUE! My work takes me to schools – OFTEN. And I actually get huge anxiety if I am not checked in and given a sticker or something when I come through the doors.
It totally freaks me out to be walking through some school (I'm a big guy) without anybody stopping me and I almost pray there are cameras everywhere to film my every move.
Now I teach CCD classes and I freak if my assistant leaves for a moment. I nearly have a panic attack. Last thing I want is to be alone with somebody's kids these days to have someone accuse me of something. All it takes to destroy your life… One word. Scary. And very very sad. Some of these kids are so sweet, I just want to give them a hug – but – no way Jose.
The wages of (somebody else's) sin. Really sad. It effects everyone.
September 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Last week I made my first morning as a reading volunteer at our local elementary school. The joy of the occasion was marred by a shelter-in-place (lockdown) drill.
Thanks to Satan and popular, um, culture, it's open season on children.