Can we go back in time?

I just posted in another section of CAF, and my own post got me thinking.

I grew up in the 1960s. I had a mom who stayed home and a dad who went to work. We had one car. I took piano lessons–that’s it. No other extracurriculars (until high school, anyway).

We ate at home most of the time. Once a week, my dad brought McDonald’s hamburgers home, and my brother and I split one. I remember when the Whopper first came out; my parents wondered how anyone could eat such a gigantic hamburger! My mother usually got about 10 hamburgers out of one pound of ground chuck.

Our television only received one channel; all the other kids could get THREE channels on their TVs! So my family didn’t watch a lot of TV, but when we did watch, most of the time the whole family gathered around the set and ate popcorn or ice cream, and enjoyed a show like “The Jackie Gleason Show” together.

Since my mother didn’t have a car while Dad was at work, we walked to the grocery store and pulled our groceries home in a red wagon. I remember a lot of talking between me, my brother, and my mom during those walks.

My brother and I had a huge gang of neighborhood friends, and we spent most of our out-of-school time outdoors playing with them (or quarrelling with them!). In fact, I remember that when we got home from school, we changed clothes, had a quick snack (usually just a cookie or a few crackers or a banana), and then we were sent outside to play until supper. We weren’t supposed to come back in the house until supper, unless we had to go to the bathroom. This was the same for all the kids in the neighborhood–kids didn’t sit inside watching TV or doing homework, we played outside.

After supper, we watched TV while we did homework (although usually kids didn’t have that much homework until they were in Junior High), and then we went to bed by around eight p.m. My brother and I had to go to bed even earlier, which we always complained about, but my mother and father wanted time to spend with each other, and we didn’t dare disobey them!

I could go on, and I’m betting that many of you will find much of what I said familiar.

My question is–how much of it is worth trying to re-capture in the 21st Century?

One parent working while another parent stays home?

Less television?

Less food?

More outdoor play?

Less music/sports/extracurricular activities and more unplanned play?

Strict rules about bedtimes?

Or is the way we raise our kids now actually better for everyone? After all, from the time they were three years-old, my kids spend almost every day of their lives in an ice skating rink, and we all LOVED it! To this day, they thank us for letting them ice skate–it was the major “formation” of their characters, along with Christian activities mainly through churches.

And I worked full-time, so dinner for us was usually out somewhere. But we talked and talked, and to this day, our kids tell us that some of their fondest memories are family discussions at the Steak and Shake!

We didn’t watch a lot of TV and we don’t have cable and never will. But the kids did see a lot more plays, concerts, and other live events than my brother and I ever saw growing up. That’s good, isn’t it?

And my husband works for IBM, so we had the very first PC ever sold to the public. He’s been online since online was invented! And our whole family uses the computer a LOT–is this good? I think it is.

Anyway, what good things should we strive to recover from those halcyon years of childhood, and what good things are we doing in the year 2007?

**I think it’s important to have balance. No matter how much we wish otherwise, the world is different now and part of our jobs as parents is to prepare our children to be independent adults- in this world.

So we need to start with putting God first. If an extracurricular activity will help form our children’s characters and teach them some sort of life lessons then it is good. If an activity teaches things contrary to our morals and values (like winning is everything, putting self first etc) then it’s not worth it.

And family time is very important. We need to make it a priority in today’s world in whatever way we can.


I don’t think we can go back.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s. My mom stayed home until we started school, then worked (all the time).

We did roam around a lot, but I don’t think it is safe anymore with all the child predators, drug dealers, and neighborhood kids that don’t share values.

My brothers played sports year round, but my dad was a wrestling/football/track coach. So, it was part of our family culture–at least for the boys. I think my brothers found the sports very character forming. My sister and I weren’t really encouraged to do sports, but I think that it was because my mom was working so much and my dad was busy with the boys.

My kids do a smattering of sports.

I didn’t have **any ** chores, but my kids have lots!

We don’t have cable and rarely see movies, but my kids seem very engaged in the pop culture, but fortunately not the sexualized segment of it. :slight_smile:

My parents never would consider homeschooling, but we do.

I guess I think that this age is more perilous for kids–at least more perilous for middle class kids. Maybe it always was for poor kids.

So, structured activities and indoor and supervised activities seem safer. Kind of sad, but I guess the positive aspect of it is that parents are more engaged in formation of character and in choosing activities.


And the only thing we’re doing ‘right’ in 07 seems to be EWTN… but that’s been around a while, too.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s and some of my best memories are of roaming around in the woods with my friends for hours at a time.

I would be afraid to allow children to do that unsupervised now.

I never cared much for TV as a child and preferred to spend my time playing outdoors.

My mother stayed at home and none of my friend’s parents were divorced. Come to think of it, most of my friend’s mothers stayed at home also.

My mother or my friend’s mother would pick us up after school every day and they always made time for us to play after school. I learned to roller skate in my elementary school parking lot.

Things didn’t seem to be so rushed or hectic as they are now.

Well, even if we could go back…think about it…when were all these child predators and drug dealers born?

They were born and raised in the 70s and 80s.

If the 70s and 80s bred so many drug dealers and child molesters, maybe those decades weren’t as great as we think they were…

Were the 60s and 70s really that safe? In the mid-late 60s and the early 70s, there were DOZENS of violent riots in nearly every major city in the US. Nowadays, you hardly ever hear about riots happening (except for Katrina).

I think I’m safer here now than I would have been in the 60s and 70s.

The truth is that child molesters and predators have been around since, well, forever. It’s just that no one talked about it or reported it since sex topics were so taboo. It’s not like these people are a new phenomena. Now I will admit that they are more rampant nowadays because of the availability contraception and pornography.

The 60s may seem honky dory for some people, mostly whites, but if I were black I would not want to go back to those days where my skin color would make me a target for racism and bigotry. Not to mention poverty, limited education, etc, etc…

I disagree.

The riots, unpleasant as they were, did not spread to the country or the 'burbs.

We were not in danger of terrorist attacks on our own soil. And millions of unborn babies weren’t being murdered in the name of ‘reproductive rights.’

Much of what’s wrong with America began in the 60s and fomented in the 70s.

I’ll take the 50s, if you please! :smiley:

Eventhough abortion was not legal it’s incorrect to say that before then babies weren’t being murdered. Women found ways to get them.

I say that much of what’s wrong in America started to ferment in 1930 when protestants allowed the use of birth control within marriage. That’s when the flood gates opened.

The 50s? Ok. So you want women to stay home with little to no opportunity of having careers, money, homes, etc of their own? Google tips on being a good wife. I refuse to go back to that. The 50s were great if you were a white male.

Being nostalgic is human but it’s ignorant to want to move back in time because things seemed better.

America’s Cheapest Family

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Your original post sounds exactly like my life now.

Only, the wagon my kids and I pull the groceries home in is blue, not red.

For safety reasons, all their outdoor play is in our own backyard. Friends are always welcome to join them there.

And we have more TV channels - just the kids and I don’t watch them.

And my deprived children don’t do a single extracurricular activity for most of the year (T-ball or soccer is optional in the spring).

Our lives are old-fashioned simple - and I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


There are some things I know I would never feel comfortable doing. Letting my kids play outside unsupervised is one, at least not until they are much older. There are too many people who speed down our tiny street and would never be able to stop if they saw a child chase a ball into the road. No one here has fenced in backyards and there are several people with unfenced-in pools, even though they have been reported to the township. And, while I would love to encourage more out-door playtime, I find it very hard to be outdoors 4 or 5 hours a day. I do have things I need to do in my home to keep it up. Plus, we homeschool and that takes up time. I aim to get the boys outside for at least 90 minutes in the afternoon. If I can also get them an hour before lunch outside, that’s a great day.

It would be impossible for me to grocery shop and walk home, as I have to drive 35 minutes to get to the grocery store anyway. Price of living in a small town. We do walk to the park and the local library, though, and to our friends’ houses.

I would like to watch less TV. I would even like to try having a TV free home, but my DH would never go for it. It would be very hard on me, too. There are shows I like and I let DS1 watch (too much, probably) TV during quiet time. We do have satellite TV, but only the very basic network channels and a sports package for my husband (we would get about 3 channels if we did not have satellite, which would be fine except we would not get the ONE channel that the good shows are on.)

I do stay home, and I try to do special things with my kids everyday. Today DS1 and I are going to make pumpkin muffins together to take to his playgroup tomorrow. DH and I are making enormous sacrifices to make sure I stay home with our kids. It certainly has taught us the value of a dollar and what things are really worth our time.

I think the most important thing is to recapture the attitude of times past. Family was so important. Raising your children was seen as a sacred obligation, not something you need to hire someone to do so you can “get out” on your own. People placed more importance on people, not things. People were more polite, good manners were expected. That sort of thing.

I agree that so many things you long for are lost…but do not lose hope! There actually are some things that are better!

I would not want to go back in time because I have a daughter with Down Syndrome. If I had been her mother back in the “good old days” my child would not have been able to go to school and live her life with us…she would most likely have been put in a state institution. These places were horrendous.

I would not want to go back in time if I belonged to many minority races. There was not anything close to equal opportunity in those days…for women either. If you were a woman and were called to the vocation of marriage and motherhood then fine. However if you were called to live the single life there really was not much opportunity for career choice or equal pay.

I beleive that most of your personal happiness comes not from the decade you lived in…but by the wonderful family you were blessed with! Many people even back then had parents that beat them and husbands that cheated etc…etc…

How wonderful that you have such happy memories. You really have been blessed, thanks for sharing.

One day, these will be “the good old days.”

I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t wash. Women were not ‘held back’ by their ‘horrible male oppressors.’ It took an entire ad campaign, cleverly wrought and relentlessly hammered, to get them to start listening to Satan’s teleprompter. And I see nothing at all wrong with tips on being a good wife.

I do not like male-bashing in any form, and I doubt people on this forum would tolerate bashing any other race.

Perhaps you see the 1950s through another sort of filter. The values we held back then were and still are worth fighting for. I will be delighted when they return.

I’m actually glad about our current generation for many reasons. Why?

In my generation, you won’t get looked down upon for having a friend of another race or for dating someone of a different race (or you might, but it’s more accepted). I like that I’m expected to be globally aware (I’m actually contemplating a career in international health care and switching my major to International Studies. I’m keeping my premed though. I also love traveling and learning about other cultures and languages). I like that people freely talk about issues (such as sexuality, etc.) instead of just sweeping them under the rug and acting embarrassed (no, I don’t agree w/it on TV but I think we need to be open and honest, regardless of whether it’s broadcasted or not). I like that women in my generation are expected to be educated and to choose a career if that’s what they want to do (I’m not bashing SAHM’s or anything, just that it should be a choice, not a mandate). I like that we’re being encouraged to be concerned with world issues and take an active stand on things we care about (that’s why I’m willing to go to Planned Parenthood by myself to pray and peacefully protest). I like that people are more willing to learn about other cultures than trying to hide their own because it wasn’t “American” enough (that’s how my priest lost his ability to speak Italian, because it wasn’t “cool” to be bilingual in his day)

My mom grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. And every day she reminds me how lucky I am that I have more choices than she did at the time. She didn’t get to choose where she went to college or what she did with her life. She wasn’t as prepared to live independently like I was. But she’s worked her whole life to be an intelligent, educated woman who takes stands on issues she cares about (like the environment, women’s health, etc.) and encourages me to do the same every day. She’s very supportive of me becoming a pro life doctor because she knows I made this decision. She said in her day, she wasn’t expected to know how to clean a house (a college friend had to teach her to do laundry b/c her mom always did the chores), how to cook, and that no one really believed in her so she didn’t believe in herself. She didn’t have many options growing up and she’s glad that it’s different for me and my sister.

I may be young but I know enough to know that the “golden days” weren’t really as shiny or beautiful as people like to think they are. Every generation has its problems. Mine has the problem of being morally apathetic and worrying more about “tolerance” than integrity, I’ll admit that. However, I believe it was St. Thomas More (though I could be wrong) who said that, “the times are never so bad that a good man cannot live through them.”

Correct, we weren’t in danger of terrorist attacks on our own soil.

But we were in danger of total nuclear annihilation

Duck and Cover (1951)

I would MUCH, MUCH rather worry about terrorist attacks than imminent nuclear war with the USSR.

So much for the 50s feeling “safer”. (Who cares about street crime when you’re worried that the entire world is about to go up in flames?)

I look with nostalgia at what you write there, Cat… Perhaps it was better than what we have now, perhaps it wasn’t. What I would certainly love to see back is healthy eating and outdoor play.

As for mothers staying home then and less so now, I suppose as both parents gradually began to work, the salaries, the expenses, the lifestyle, came to reflect this, so all in all, we don’t seem to me to have benefitted much from that.

Not sure about bed times, but I suppose it makes for a solid frame. A strict schedule can be comforting. However, there was always an individualist, stray-away kid like I was. One reading till late and spending long hours on the computer. Outside play wasn’t for me… I love the outside but didn’t so much love hanging out with my peers and sharing in those activities. I much preferred the computer and the geeky pursuits and before those, just reading. A lot. Who knows… Maybe it’d be better to have been more active physically, especially in terms of sports, but it wasn’t like me. Got to have some respect for the young boy’s (that I was) personality. I respect myself as I was then. :wink: Strict hours and such… depends. Some become are sheltered by those, grow in stability and security, even find comfort as I said. Others… not really so. Not sure I’d love to guard the curfews with my children.

Well, that was our world. Our children’s world is or will be different. Things happen in different ways. I’m much, much happier when things begin to look again as they did in my childhood and I’m much more at calm and peace and in place around nature, with kind, non-violent and not overly ambitious people (no rat race kind of rivalry). Honesty, old-fashionedness, kindness, good moral foundations… What else is lost? Less consumerism for sure. And I think I respect the child I was more than the man I am now, which is kind of sad, but I guess we can’t really… or maybe we can. Well, there’s some work to do for me, for sure. Got to read more and walk outside more. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to code something again instead of just using the computer. I wonder sometimes how my children will turn out. But that’s a different world, not the same. I wonder if people had the same kind of feelings some years ago, or if it’s mostly a modern phenomenon. They probably did - after all, there have been many rapid changes in history before us. Think Reformation. Think wars. Think changing political allegiance or social systems… Eh. Perhaps I should rather do something useful.

I remember as a kid (once again 70s and 80s) being terrified of nuclear war. We were all sure we’d die that way. It was the prevalent fear of my generation, I’d say.

Maybe every generation has a “fear.” It seems like environmental catastrophes are the current fear.

Of course, there is a basis for the fears. Disease used to kill many. Plenty died at Chernobyl. And, just to see the Tsunami in Indonesia…

I do wish there were regard for marriage and family like it used to be…

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