10 Reasons Our Parents Had It So Much Easier

On stressful days, I just want to crank my DeLorean up to 88 mph and travel back to the 1980s, when parenting seemed less taxing and came with a far skinnier rule book. I’m not alone — a report from the Social Issues Research Centre found that nearly half of mothers think the 1970s and 1980s were an easier time to raise children. Unconvinced? Check out how simple it was for our parents:

  1. Instead of fussing over car seats, parents could toss kids in the “way back” of the station wagon and let them roll around like oranges.
  2. Everybody in the family shared one phone. Not only was a land line way cheaper than individual mobiles, but Mom always knew who was calling her kids — and her husband.
  3. It was totally acceptable to send the kids out to play after lunch and ask only that they be back by dinner. Or dark. Bug bites were a bigger concern than child predators.
  4. Swimming pools had diving boards, bicycles were ridden without helmets and newborns could sleep on their stomachs. Sure it was riskier, but think how much easier it must have been to keep kids happy.
  5. Flight attendants (back when they were called stewardesses) would bend over backwards to entertain your kids on the airplane, taking them on field trips to the cockpit, doling out coloring books, and awarding those coveted wings. Now you’re lucky if you can score some 2% milk.
  6. When a preteen son saw boobies for the first time, it was in National Geographic or (gasp) Playboy — not in a hardcore fetish video readily accessed from a smartphone.
  7. Childcare was a combination of grandma and the teenager next door who charged a buck fifty an hour. Today, our babysitter makes ten times that amount, but I’m pretty sure we don’t earn 10 times what our parents did.
  8. The most violent video game on the market was Super Mario Bros. To my knowledge, there were no “school hammerings” as a result.
  9. Remember the four food groups? Carbs were an essential part of the daily diet! Ice cream was considered a reasonable source of milk! Moms weren’t scorned for serving a microwaved TV dinner — they were just being modern and efficient. I reflect on this when I’m shopping for organic kale and learning to make quinoa.
  10. The lower back tattoo had not yet been invented. Need I say more?

I’ll admit, there are a few millennial inventions that help parents, like iPads and Xanax. And sure, not everything was perfect in the 80s — we probably sucked down a little more second hand smoke than we should have — but didn’t we turn out okay? On balance, I think the past is winning.

Parents, there’s room in my DeLorean. Do you want to join me in the 1980s, or do you think things are better now?


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  1. Jordan
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink


  2. Jonna Green
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    So true! I remember all of that! Thanks so much on the giveaway!
    I am so thrilled!

    • Amy
      Posted June 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      You’re welcome – enjoy!

  3. Susan
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    And preschoolers used regular seat belts – no car seats- so we could carpool – as many kids as we could fit in our station wagons.
    And running around was a major activity for our kids. No internet, no video games, no videos so no sitting still and no weight issues.

    And btw, the photo is of author AND her beloved baby brother.

  4. Cathy
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Life was so much easier! #11 should be food allergies. Our parents didn’t have to worry about our eating peanut butter and then some friend ending up in the hospital after coming in contact with us due to a deathly allergy.

    • Amy
      Posted June 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I know, I don’t remember any kids with Epi pens either!

  5. Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    newborns aren’t supposed to sleep on their tummies anymore?!?

    • Amy
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink


  6. Posted July 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious list! We just shared this on the Great Moments in Parenting page. We’d be honored if you would consider submitting (http://greatmomentsinparenting.com/log-in/). Great Moments in Parenting is an open blog to share parenting “moments”, photos and essays to commemorate the agony and ecstasy of life with kids. Thanks in advance for your consideration, and we look forward to reading (and sharing) more of your writing!