New age parenting?

I read a blog post on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed today that got me thinking about my parenting style.  In her post, Stephanie at Momma Be Thy Name says

Parenting standards have obviously changed over the years (and most for good reason), but here’s why I say our parents rocked.

She goes on to list a number of things she remembers her parents doing that she doesn’t see parents doing ‘these days’. Here’s the list (you can zip on over to the original blog here to see what it says) – call me old fashioned, but I do a lot of this stuff (and so do a lot of my friends):

They cooked.

Well, I cook. I cook mostly from fresh – with the use of some convenience foods (I don’t make my own curry pastes for example). I haven’t always – I was a ready-to-eat junkie for years, but environmental, health and finally financial considerations put a stop to it.  My kids are used to it now – they no longer open the cupboard and moan that there’s nothing to eat because they can’t see packets of stuff to just grab. Instead, they heat leftovers, make a sandwich, bake something themselves, make a mini pizza, cut cheese from the block and eat it with some crackers (you get the idea).

They sent us outside to play

Heck, I used to put my kids out into the backyard when they were fighting and tell them to sort it out or no one could come inside (I’ve even been known to do that in the rain). My teenagers are older now – but when they were little they played outside a lot.  It helped that for many years they were part of a gang of 6, as a girlfriend and I (with 3 kids each) shared care of them when the other was at work so there was always someone to play with.  They built ‘bases’ in the front yard with bits and pieces they collected from the Council clean up junk piles and spent many happy hours out there with picnics, walkie talkies and their imaginations.

They weren’t afraid to discipline us

Um, I did probably fall down a bit here – although I seem to remember being a pretty cranky mum when they were little and some of my friends commenting that I was a bit hard on the kids over seemingly minor issues. Perhaps I’ve blotted that all out – as teenagers my kids don’t require much disciplining, more guidance around issues such as when they are going to be home and acceptable use of language.  I do sometimes worry as a parent of teenagers that perhaps I’m too soft – plenty of my kids friends seem to get a hard time from their parents, but as a rule, I try to pick my battles and save the fights for the really important stuff.

They weren’t parenting philosophy zealots

Just let the kids be kids. OK? Enough said.

We knew the value of money

Yep. We did. And my kids don’t. As frugal and consumption conscious as I try to be (and model that for the kids) there’s no doubt they have WAY more stuff than I did growing up and they don’t really appreciate that money doesn’t grow on trees. My bad – I’ve spent plenty of money that would have been better off going into something better than toys, electronics, unused bikes – you get the picture.

They allowed us to make friends

There’s no way my parents knew all my friends and their families. Not even in primary school. My kids grew up in a pretty sheltered middle class part of Sydney where all the families socialised on weekends and the kids were just thrown together and expected to get along. They they go to high school and bang! Suddenly they want to make friends with kids they have stuff in common with rather than children of my friends! I had a hard time letting go of this one and still struggle when one of the kids wants to go and meet a friend that I don’t know – even when I know they’ve been friends for years. I think it’s a control thing. On my part 🙂

They threw us birthday parties. With cake and party hats.

Birthday party good times

Actually, I don’t remember having a single birthday party until I was about 16 – although I’m sure that’s not right. With my own kids, I started out with a party every second year – that more or less worked out for the 5 or 6 years that they were all going through that stage where parties are really important markers in their lives.  Most of the parties they go to are ‘at home’ parties – with the occasional trip to laser tag. I remember parties at the local pool were very popular for a few years – but so were sausage sizzles at the soccer field.

Stephanie closes her post by saying:

Things have come a long way since my childhood. Things are better, safer, less labor-intensive, and more convenient for sure. But with that comes a lot of, well, crap. Though I’m moving into the future with my babies, and am actually looking forward to navigating these winding and socially complicated roads, I still wouldn’t trade, for all the money in the world, the genuine, raw, and meaningful upbringing I experienced. I really didn’t want a pony ride, anyway.

I agree – pony rides are overrated.