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?
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?