“You and Dad are definitely more strict that most of my friend’s parents,” my teen son informed us one day as we were telling him to get off his Xbox and join us for dinner.
My husband and I gave each other a high five as we passed each other in the kitchen.
The teen boy simply rolled his eyes at us.
Yes, my husband and I are “strict” at least by today’s bar.
And you know what, we’re proud of that fact.
When most of us raising kids today were young back in the 80’s, or as my daughter likes to say, way back “In the 1900’s”, having strict parents meant a child was being subjected to something just shy of child abuse.
Strict parents basically kept their children under house arrest. These unlucky kids were rarely seen playing outside or getting to go over to someone else’s house, and you certainly weren’t going to be playing at their house.
They were the kids who were never doing well enough in school, who seemed to always be grounded and who as they got older were not allowed to go to parties, date or basically have any kind of freedom.
Fast forward to today, and now my son, and apparently his friends, are calling us the strict parents.
But we’re simply raising our kids the way our parents raised us.
We’re a product of 80’s parenting.
Our parents were never mean or cruel. Sure they yelled from time to time, but they loved us and we knew it. They also didn’t make us the center of their worlds.
The family schedule didn’t revolve solely around our activities. They left us with babysitters and went out most weekends. And they had zero guilt using the world “no” as a full sentence.
We spent plenty of days from sundown to sunset outside climbing trees and riding bikes, but there were also many hours wasted playing Space Invaders on our Atari or watching MTV.
For the most part, our parents didn’t micro-manage our time.
We had a lot of freedoms, more than many kids do today. But our parents also had rules, and expectations about our behavior and our achievements. Nothing crazy or unreasonable. You know things like using our manners, doing our chores and getting decent grades.
And when expectations weren’t met or rules were broken, there were consequences. REAL consequences that were enforced 100% of the time.
Our parents had real authority and we were smart enough to be just a little bit afraid of them.
This is just how it was if you were being raised in the 80’s. And most of us, if these were the kind of parents we had, turned out okay.
However, it seems in recent decades what simply used to be considered parenting has now become oppressive.
But here’s what I have to say about that. I loved the 80’s! The 80’s were awesome and parents back then actually knew how to parent. There was no such thing as a helicopter parent and there was also no such thing as being your kids friend (that happened later when they were adults).
Sure times change, and we’re definitely having to make some updates to our parent’s handbook. Who knows how our parents would have dealt with cellphones, cyberbullying and snap chat…
But there are still plenty of ways 1980’s parenting hasn’t gone out of style.
Here are 10 Ways I Parent Like It’s the 1980’s
1. We have family rules and if our children disobey them, there are appropriate consequences EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. We don’t make empty threats, we don’t negotiate and we always follow through.
2. Our children are expected to use please and thank you, to open doors for people older than them and at least fairly consistently exhibit other forms of good manners. They are also required to look adults in the eye when they talk to them.
3. I don’t short order cook for my kids. What’s for dinner is all there is, you don’t have to eat it, but the next meal won’t be until breakfast the next day.
4. Our children are not allowed to speak to us disrespectfully (or to any adult for that matter). They are also not allowed to swear. That doesn’t mean my teenager doesn’t do it, it just means he knows when it’s appropriate and has the sense not to do it in front of us.
5. Our children have chores, if they don’t do them they lose privileges. Or in the case of my older one who gets an allowance, he sometimes has to pay me for my time when I end up doing them for him, like feeding the dog.
6. We set and teach our children priorities: Family, School THEN Social Life (activities and fun). A family function comes before a friend function and grades must be acceptable (this does not mean all A’s) to participate in sports, dance, etc.
7. Oh and speaking of school, we DON’T DO THEIR WORK FOR THEM. We give help and guidance, but they have to put forth the effort.
8. We let our children make mistakes and we don’t fight their battles for them. Failure isn’t always a bad thing, it’s part of how you learn, you get stronger and you develop resilience.
9. Both of our children will be required to get a J-O-B. Work ethic matters and so does learning the value of a dollar. It’s hard for kids to do that until it is their dollar that they earned and they’re having to decide between putting gas in the car or grabbing that extra tall skinny half mocha latte frappuccino.
10. No tech at the dinner table. Hey, just because smartphones didn’t exist back then, doesn’t make it less valid. If we could get through a family dinner back then without checking Facebook or sending off a text, we should be able to today.
It really doesn’t feel like any of these 10 parenting practices is particularly “Strict”, I feel like a lot of it is just common sense. I’m sure many would agree.
So, why is it that we’ve moved from 1980’s parenting when strict meant something far more damaging to children to a parenting present where it seems to simply mean actual parenting?
If doing our jobs as parents is now being called “strict”, then I’ll happily wear the label. Maybe I’ll even get a t-shirt made. I Parent Like It’s The 1980’s And I’m Proud.
Anybody else want one?