Times have a changed quite a bit, especially in the past 40 or 50 years. Society’s values have changed, and so has the way people raise children. Parents took a different approach towards child-rearing way back when, and some of the things that were done would be completely unacceptable or even illegal these days.
If you grew up in the late 1970s or 1980s, some of these behaviors and actions will be familiar to you. However, they would not be considered appropriate by modern parents.
Here are fifteen things that parents used to do all the time that are just not acceptable or standard practice any longer.
1. Letting Their Kids Drink a Lot of Soda
These days, soda (or pop, if you would prefer that term) is banned in a lot of schools. That was not always the case, however. Companies used to sell cans small enough to fit in lunchboxes, and there were vending machines that sold the delicious sugary beverages at schools. Sodas were available in cafeterias. Times have changed, though, and that is probably a good thing for children.
There is a clear correlation between consumption of sugary beverages and obesity. According to a Harvard study, while sugar-filled soft drinks may have a lot of calories, people who consume them do not feel full as a result; therefore, they do not eat less.
That study points out, however, that while many schools may have stopped selling soda, kids are still buying soda outside of school. The consumption rate of soda is still pretty high.
2. Letting Their Kids Use Computers Without Proper Supervision
There is no limit to the amount of trouble a kid can get into using computers, tablets, smart phones, etc. It is a dangerous world, so you absolutely have to monitor your child’s computer use. In the early-to-mid 1980s, though, it was hard to get in trouble using your computer.
The worst that could happen is that a kid would spend a little too much time playing a relatively simple computer game with very bad graphics. No one had internet access, so you could let your kid use the computer for hours without worrying too much. The 1980s were indeed simpler times.
3. Smoking In Front of Kids
Nowadays, everyone knows that smoking is—to put it mildly—unhealthy. However, decades ago, doctors would actually recommend brands of cigarettes in magazines. One advertisement actually described a certain brand of cigarettes as a “vacation” for the throat.
We’ve learned a lot in the decades that followed about how cigarettes cause lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, and tooth decay. We have learned of the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke was not considered a major problem in, for example, the 1980’s. People would smoke in restaurants all of the time, even if children were present. They would even smoke in their cars—with their children in the back seat.
4. Not Putting Kids in Car Seats
In the United States, the leading cause of death to children is a car accident. Numerous studies have proven that using car seats saves lives in the event of accidents.
Forty years ago, a lot of parents did not worry so much about whether or not their small child was properly restrained. Nowadays, you can actually get in a lot of trouble if you don’t put your small child in an age-appropriate car seat.
Of course, forty years ago, a lot of people did not use seat belts—which have also been conclusively proven to save lives.
Times really have changed for the better in regard to vehicular safety. There’s still a way to go, as a lot of people still do not use car seats for their children or properly buckle up, but things have happily gotten a lot better.
5. Letting Their Kids Play With Sock’em Boppers
Sock’em Boppers were basically just boxing gloves that were both enormous and inflatable. The point of the toy was a simple one: hit other kids. It seems almost primitive nowadays, but the “toy” was extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s. A lot of people who grew up during that time period probably remember the product quite well—some would probably purchase a new set if seen in a toy store.
Still, buying a toy to encourage your kid to hit another kid is not really considered acceptable these days.
6. Physically Disciplining a Kid in a Severe Fashion
This is a serious matter. No one condones child abuse, but the fact of the matter is that as recently as the 1990s, it was still considered relatively okay in the United States to smack your kid on the butt. In the 1930s and 1940s, smacking kids hard in order to teach them a lesson was a pretty common practice. That does not make it right, but those were the values of the society, and we can’t pretend otherwise.
The public is sort of mixed on this issue—even today, after all of these years. Obviously, no one is suggesting severe physical discipline, but a lot of parents still believe that spanking is a necessary parenting tool.
7. Letting Their Kids Go to the Movies Without First Researching the Film
Prior to the internet, researching a film was a bit trickier. There were ways of doing it, but they were either time consuming or the information was poor. If you really wanted to be absolutely sure a film was appropriate for your kid, you pretty much had to go out and watch the film yourself prior to giving him or her permission to see it. Few people really had time for that, sadly, so kids back in the day saw a lot of movies that they probably should not have seen.
They probably had a great time, though.
Due to the fact movies have generally become a lot more violent and sexual, it is great that the internet makes it possible for parents to do the necessary research.
8. Letting Kids Play Outside Without Supervision
Kids like to play outside, and parents really had no choice but to let them do so without the level of supervision you would expect today. After all, there were no smart phones available, so tracking your kid was impossible.
Because of the internet, parents today are far more keenly aware of the dangers posed by the world outside of their homes. Chances are the world isn’t actually any more dangerous today than it was 35 years ago, but it just seems more dangerous as a result of access to information.
9. Letting Kids Eat Processed Food at Lunchtime
In the 1980s and 1990s, school lunches consisted primarily of processed and prepackaged food. That sort of thing really does not fly today. They may have been absolutely delicious—kids these days do not know what they are missing out on—but healthy eating is more or less the norm these days.
10. Going to a Video Store to Rent Only One Movie
This one isn’t really unacceptable or illegal, but it was a fact of life. A lot of homes only had one—or maybe two—televisions. You had to compromise. The family needed to agree on one movie to watch; if you did not get your way, you had to suck it up. You couldn’t just watch whatever you wanted whenever you wanted.
Even worse, you had to actually leave the house and travel to a retail establishment to rent a movie, and they didn’t exactly come cheap. They were dark times, sure, but it did make the movie-watching experience a lot more special than it is today. There was a lot of family bonding that took place, and you do not get that when everyone is in separate rooms watching separate things.
11. Leaving Kids Home Alone
It can be difficult to ascertain when it is acceptable to leave your child at home unattended. Kids these days can get in a lot more trouble now thanks to social media, so over-protective parents tend to err on the side of caution. Eventually, though, the child needs to be able to look after himself or herself for a couple of hours without parental attention.
Making the matter more difficult is the fact that a lot of regions actually have laws regarding how old a child must be before he or she is left unattended.
Things weren’t so tricky thirty years ago. If you were reasonably sure that your child wouldn’t inadvertently (or intentionally) set your home on fire, you would leave him or her while you went shopping or out to dinner. You also trusted that child to babysit his or her siblings.
Nowadays, parents require background checks be performed before leaving their child in the care of the teenager down the street. Society has gotten a bit paranoid, honestly. It is important to be cautious, of course, but it is all starting to be a bit much.
12. Giving Their Kids Fast Food
As mentioned earlier in this article, parents used to give their kids pre-packaged and processed lunches all of the time. Parents, even good ones, also used to give their kids a lot of fast food. Certain fast food companies actively encouraged parents to do so, and the kids mostly turned out okay. True, the kid meals often came with a toy that was a choking hazard—that part wasn’t so great.
Lately, it seems as if a person who buys a burger from a fast food joint and gives it to their kid is being demonized by society. Obviously, fast food is not exactly the healthiest option for anyone, adults included, but it isn’t exactly poison either. Healthy food costs a lot more than unhealthy food, and sometimes a person simply runs out of money at the end of the month.
The good news is that health codes and laws have gotten a lot stricter in recent years, so that fast food burger you buy for your kid is probably a whole lot healthier than the burgers kids used to regularly consume 30 years ago.
13. Letting Their Kids Play With Guns That Actually Looked Real
Guns are dangerous in the hands of children. That can’t be denied, and no sane person would try to argue otherwise. If you own a firearm, keep it locked up and away from your kid.
However, little boys and girls actually love playing with toy guns. If they do not have an appropriate toy gun, they’ll make a gun using their fingers—and then probably get punished by a school administrator for promoting violence.
Thirty or forty years ago, toy companies actually went out of their way to make toy guns look as realistic as possible. Such a practice is completely unacceptable these days, for understandable reasons. In the United States, which has been plagued by a lot of gun violence, toy guns are made to look as fake as possible. Most proper revolvers aren’t bright green and orange.
14. Letting The Children Ride Bikes Without a Helmet
If you look at television programs from the 1950s and 1960s, you will see children riding bicycles without helmets. Their parents, by the way, were nowhere in sight.
The children were roaming free, doing their thing and having a great time. It is almost a bizarre image these days, but times were definitely different when those shows were produced. Nowadays, in many places, if an adult spots a child bicycling without a helmet, they’ll call for law enforcement so that the child’s parent can be arrested for neglect.
15. Letting Kids Accept Unwrapped Treats From Other Parents
Once upon a time, parents trusted other parents to properly care for their children. If your kid wanted to play with another kid at his or her house, you would simply let him or her go. You felt confident that the mother or father could handle your child for an hour or two. If that parent happened to make cookies and your child had one, you were relatively sure that your child had not been poisoned. Most people with children also want what is best for the children of other people, right?
Times have changed, however. A lot of parents these days would freak out if another parent gave their kid anything to eat that wasn’t pre-packaged.
It is great that we all want to keep kids safe, but where do we draw the line?