10 Changes in Parenting in 10 Years

Lisa writes: I always thought that you needed to be very old and very cranky to begin a sentence, “When my kids were young….” It turns out the urge to look backwards can overwhelm us even before our kids have left home. If you see a crazy middle age mom running over to her younger counterpart and ranting about parenting past…well that just might be me.

At the risk of sounding both old and cranky, I cannot but help but remark on a few notable changes in parenting, some good, some bad, all worthy of note.

parenting, baby boy

 

1. When I held a child I looked into his face or at what I was doing with him

Had the iPhone been invented and if technology had allowed me to, I would have certainly checked emails and texted friends, often ignoring the child at hand. Every time I see a young mom with toddler in one hand, gazing at her cell phone in the other, I want to rush over and remind her that everything that child is learning about human interaction she is teaching him right then and there.

2. There were very few parenting blogs

The Motherlode at The New York Times was still five years away. Without bloggers, I did not have access to the wealth of parenting information, camaraderie and conversation that exists today. On the other hand, I had far less with which to compare myself and feed my insecurities.

3. Ten years ago, we were a less accepting nation

Gender identity was more mired in tradition. Guys were dads, we were moms. Now men and women occupy roles that better suit them, in the home and the workplace. The manifold ways in which adults become partners and create families is a greater expression of truth than at any other time. I am glad that my kids came of age in a world that has an ever evolving definition of “family.”

4. I thought I was a pushy soccer mom letting my sons join u8 travel teams

I knew that sports would play a big role in our family, although the way it devoured our weekends and contorted our lives was truly a shock. Now I see that there is u6 soccer.

5. World War Three regularly broke out at my dinner table

My kids would take sides in an argument about a sporting statistic or historical fact and never let it drop. The arguments would not end until later when someone looked in a book or turned on their computer. Now the minute rumblings can be heard, my husband gives them each a look and says, “Google it!” Cell phones have meant they can no longer argue about matters of fact.

6. To buy music, my children had to ask me for my credit card

I was aware of all purchases made by my kids. Now, my Amazon 1-click and iTunes accounts are now the source of constant surprises.

7. I took pictures of my kids, when I remembered the camera

The movie camera? Forget about it. My cell phone means that their teen and tween years were better documented than those cute younger days.

8. My husband and I had an electronics-free bedroom

There was no TV, no VCR, no still-to-be-invented digital devices where we slept. The child snuggled in our bed, faced our sleeping backs or our exhausted faces but they never looked at us looking at something else.

9. Flying with kids required a huge amount of preparation

Toys and amusements needed to be procured, and coloring books, stickers, and Legos packed. I would have given anything, at times anything, for an iPad.

10. A decade ago I thought that I had to speak to my children to speak to my children

Now I will use any method to talk to them including texting, Facebooking, tweeting and, in desperation, emailing. Don’t judge me, next I am considering snapchat and instagram as a way of reaching my offspring.



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Comments

  1. HOW I RELATE! Thanks for the memories. I was 40 before having my first baby and used cloth diapers — wonder if new moms even know there was such a thing!

  2. So true, so true. I think of that everytime I take my grandkids to the palyground. All the parents are looking at their iPhones, even the nannies. I make a special effort to not bring out my iPhone when I’m with my kids or grandkids. Maybe it’s OK with my husband. :-)

  3. I so can relate to this post. Thank you for writing it. My kids (now 19 and 14) have their iPods and iPhones and I have an iPhone as well. I read a post about a year ago that if I wanted to stay in touch with my kids I better darn well learn how to text. I jumped on board and have found that I know more about what’s happening with them than if I hadn’t texted. My daughter tells me where she is and where she’s going. My son (who doesn’t HAVE to tell me his whereabouts at his age) will always text me and tell me what’s the scoop. We have had many small conversations this way that I would not have otherwise had, little “I love you’s” and “night mom, love you’s” and such. So, as much as I wish I had real FACE TIME with my two kids, that’s not always possible and I’m trying to learn to accept that.

  4. So funny, I was just talking about the iPhone distraction for young moms with my own mother the other day – I’m so grateful there wasn’t an internet when my kids were small (or none that was of interest to me, anyway) because I know I would have been checking my phone all the time. It’s absolutely true that the face-to-face contact when a mother is with her baby is so important and creates so many images that we all remember today. Great post!

  5. Mary Broach says:

    Lisa, great post – thank you! I’m not ashamed to admit that I ‘snapchat’ my kids, and I’d even go further and recommend it. It is wonderful. My chats are almost exclusively cute pictures of our dog and cat, sent to my college daughters. Early on, I never heard back from my oldest daughter and after sending three or four pictures, I finally asked if she liked them. Her response was, “Yeah. Send more.” She typically sends me pictures of good dinners she’s made in her apartment; my other daughter usually sends a ‘selfie’ with some extreme expression and a three-word caption. It’s pure fun – and not permanent!

  6. My oldest son is 22 and my youngest will be 7 in November. The parenting environment has certainly changed a lot in those years. I agree with you when I see a parent glued to their cell phone or tablet with a little one wandering around, it makes me wanna yell – “These days are going to pass you by! You are missing out on teaching your child valuable life lessons and watching them explore their world! Wake UP!” The promise of all these gadgets ‘connecting us’ sure is leading to a lot of disconnected parenting. Great post!

  7. I couldn’t agree more! I was just out walking my dog and a young mother was so engaged in her conversation she was ignoring her daughter who was beyond excited about seeing 4 chickens lined up waiting to greet us. She was repeating mommy, mommy, mommy like a broken record and it fell on deaf ears. I am so grateful for the lack of technology while I was home with my kids and very grateful for it now that I can continue to bombard my college daughter with instant photos of our dog on her bed or eating ice cream (I know she secretly enjoys them all..lol)

  8. How far we’ve come!

  9. I love your 10 points, especially the one about looking your child in the face. Yes, times have changed. And continue to do so. Technology makes it better and technology makes it worse.

  10. Carpool Goddess says:

    I’m thrilled cell phones, ipads, and blogs didn’t exist when my kids were young. It would have been a huge distraction. I thought of this the other day when having lunch with a friend, seated next to us was a young mom with a very young child, each on their electronic device. Back in the day, the parents were the entertainment. It’s sad.

  11. When I was in China last month, I saw a guy prostrating himself in front of Buddha at a temple, while on his cell phone!!!! It was just too much. Wonderful post Lisa – I have pictures of my son Rob when he was little, and then there is this huge gap – until I got a cell phone with a camera. And you are so right about what parents are teaching their kids, while staring at their phones and missing the opportunity to just talk and laugh and be. What goes around comes around, sadly enough. Thanks!

  12. How quickly and vastly times and methods change don’t they? There are positives and negatives with technology, music, ipads, diapers, tv, etc, etc. makes one wonder where it will all be turning another generation out. I see my parents trying to keep pace with it all and marvel at their flexibility and curiousity.

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  1. 10 Changes in Parenting in 10 Years | The Blopp... says:

    […] Lisa writes: I always thought that you needed to be very old and very cranky to begin a sentence, “When my kids were young….” It turns out the urge to look backwards can overwhelm us even before our kids have left home.  […]