How Parenting Has Changed

How Parenting Has Changed – I thought my memories of being a teenager and parenting issues my parents faced would be a teaching asset once my kids reached their pre-teens / teen years – WRONG!

How Parenting Has Changed

The teen parenting landscape has changed so much since “back in the day” that my own teen experiences have been rendered useless when I try to apply it parenting today. There just doesn’t seem to be much common ground from what I went through to compare it to what is happening now with teens of today.


Here are just a few instances of how parenting has changed

How Parenting Has Changed – Drugs and Alcohol

I grew up in a time with drug and alcohol school teachings instilled fear into my peers with everything from D.A.R.E. to S.A.D.D. to MADD. Now? It’s just so strange from my Just Say No upbringing that alcohol has fallen out of favor and marijuana is now legal (here in Michigan). Are the days of kids trying to score wine coolers outside a 7-11 from a shady character being replaced with kids hanging outside a dispensary looking for weed? My high school actually had a “smoking patio” for crying out loud. My parents worried about their kids smoking cigarettes, now parents are on the lookout for vaping. How weird is it my parents had to talk to me about Budweisers when parents today have to tell their kids about bath salts and Tide Pods? We’ve come a long way but… same problems, different vices.

How Parenting Has Changed – Driving

I literally counted down the days until I got my drivers license. If Hallmark made an Advent Calendar for me turning 16 and taking the car out, I would have had one. Nowadays? Fewer than than 70% of American 19-year-olds hold a valid driver’s license, down from 87% for the same age category in the 1980s. Safer teen driving laws, high cost of gas & car ownership, and kids being more fearful of driving are mentioned as reasons. It rings true to what I’ve noticed. All of my nieces and nephews and my own children don’t seem to have the interest in driving that kids had when I was 16. In fact, they seem downright scared to drive.

How Parenting Has Changed – Fashion

Pinstripe Jordache jeans, Izod shirts (collar flipped up), Ocean Pacific shirts, and Swatch watches from my day have given way to Vineyard Vines, Pategonia, and whatever other fashion kids like today. The difference between then and now is thankfully, there seems to be much less emphasis on the fashion now from a fitting in or popularity standpoint. It’s still important, but not “bullied-for-not-wearing-the-right-Nikes” important. Kids seem way more casual in their approach to fashion today about fashion today – in a good way. If I dressed for junior high as laid back as my daughter dresses for school, I would have heard about it from the snobby fashion police. Not so any more, and that’s refreshing.

How Parenting Has Changed – Going Out

Fast food restaurants, cruising around, Blockbuster and chill, high school parties… I went out a lot. My kids, not so much. They socialize via phones with their friends instead of actually socializing… socially. It’s sometimes very strange for me to witness and difficult to parent. I should be grateful my kids might be out of harm’s way and on the couch, but I find myself wondering if they shouldn’t be out and about. In hindsight, I’m very grateful I didn’t have a smartphone or “social” media when I was younger.

How Parenting Has Changed – Sports

There’s a myth out there… maybe you’ve heard it from a cantankerous old codger – “Kids are on their phones all the time, they don’t play (insert any sport here) anymore.” Wrong. The kids play sports now at high levels. Travel leagues, summer leagues, camps, high-intensity training – all year-long. In fact, it’s turning to the haves and the have nots as far as how far your child can advance in a sport depending on how much money the parent can invest in it. I used to worry about saving for my kids’ education, now I worry how I’m going to afford 2 tennis camps and summer travel baseball in addition to their high school sports seasons. It’s not kids playing (insert any sport here) at the local park. It’s WAY beyond that now. It’s not as much about sports for fun any more, it’s an arms race – that parents pay for. More here.

How Parenting Has Changed – Sports II – The Parental Commitment

Not only has the sports changed vastly for kids since I was a kid, what’s expected of the parents responsiblity-wise has more than quintupled. My parents (and other parents) had scarce involvement regarding youth sports other than slicing some oranges for after the soccer game. Now it’s a “whole new ballgame” in terms of what parents are expected to do once their child is involved in sports. How about taking 7 weekends off a summer to travel around the country to watch travel baseball on your own dime? Again, it’s not even about what’s “asked” of parents any more. It’s about what’s “expected”. I was extremely wrong in thinking that when my kids became involved with sports the old parenting rules would apply, still… I can’t believe how out of control it became since the late eighties/early nineties.

How Parenting Has Changed – Employment

Getting a decent summer job, like a lifeguard gig (or caddy), was tough. You had to know someone, train, take tests. I used to wonder how my children were going to get a job if they wanted to work for some extra money. Now local P&R departments and pools openly beg for lifeguards to apply for great summer jobs. No experience? No problem, they’ll train you.

Again, I really thought my own experiences and memories of being a pre-teen or teen would help me out tremendously navigating the parenting waters of today. It turns out, my shortsightedness has me feeling like the dinosaur my kids giggle about when I remind them what I went through.

Any how parenting has changed stories I missed?

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