What do after school care programs, pre-cut fruit snacks and organised play dates have in common?
They’re all constructs of modern parenting. As this article Wish I’d been a 70s mum points out, none of them existed back in the 70s and 80s, when my parents were raising my siblings and I.
That was back before the word ‘parenting’ was a verb. Then, you were a parent. Today, you parent – with purpose, with intent, with strategies, for Pete’s sake!
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And I’m afraid to say that all of this over-thinking and over-active parenting seems to be the key ingredient behind the generation of spoilt brats we’re brewing.
I count myself as a co-conspirator in this mess. How did we end up here?!
I grew up in a typical, lower-middle class Aussie household where ‘making do’ was the mantra we lived by.
Our toys were usually second-hand from garage sales. Our shelves were often assembled from spare bricks and lengths of timber. And our parents’ wine came from casks, which was perfectly fine thank you very much.
While I never felt like I ‘went without’, I never felt like we had much, either.
It’s a feeling that my kids will never understand.
Clothes, shoes, toys, snacks… They’re always available and supplied. This is largely because they’re convenient and affordable!
For instance, I remember being eight years old and wanting a ‘real’ Barbie doll, which cost about $12. My parents brought in an income of around $300 a week combined, so it would have been a real stretch to afford that toy for me.
Today, the same style of Barbie doll costs… about $12. Maybe $20, for a fancy one with coloured hair or if it’s playing a guitar. Our household income is quite a bit higher than $300 a week, which makes said Barbie much more affordable to attain.
So who has the better upbringing?
Me, with a happy childhood that never left me wanting, but always had me yearning for more – which lit a fire under my own desire to strive for greater financial comfort as an adult?
Or my kids, who pretty much have every need and desire satiated – without any real understanding of what it’s like to wait or want?
I think I know the answer to that. Time to rethink my parenting ‘strategies’, perhaps?
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