It always amazes me how much things seem to change from one generation to the next, especially in just the last few decades. Even though I grew up in the eighties, which doesn’t seem that long ago, a lot has changed in the way society thinks and operates! Take the way we raise our kids. By today’s standards, my parents would have been hauled down to children’s court on multiple offenses. Yet, at the time, these things were perfectly acceptable. The following is evidence of this…

Way back when… my mom didn’t care if I ran away. I would get mad and declare I was running away, and my mom would say there’s a suitcase in the basement. I would go get this ugly, green flowered suitcase that I think was only ever used for this purpose and pack my stuff. I would go sit at the end of our very long gravel driveway ALL DAY. No one would come looking for me. I would sit by the road and play and play. When the sun was going down or I was getting hungry, I would come back. No one cared that I had ran away. It wasn’t even addressed. Yet, somehow these are among my fondest memories. I loved my childhood.

Now, as a mom, I would like to think that I would be as cool as my mom was about the whole running away thing, but I’m afraid I’m not that cool. We too have a gravel driveway, but if my kid sat at the end of the driveway for even five seconds, I would have a panic attack. A CAR COULD RUN THEM OVER. SOMEONE COULD KIDNAP THEM. Passing cars would probably call the police and let them know that a little kid was hanging out by a busy road. So, I would probably make my kids run away to the backyard or stay within the dog flags that mark the silent fence.

Way back when…my sisters, brother, and I would ride in the back of my dad’s red pick-up truck ALL THE TIME. Not the backseat. The back. Open air seating. We would even fight over who got to sit on the humps. We would go hill hopping to my grandmother’s every weekend for dinner. We were simply told to hold on.

Now, the thought that any one of us, at any time, could have been tossed out the back is a very real possibility. If my kids sat in the back on one of the humps, EVEN IF THE TRUCK WAS PARKED AND NOT MOVING, I would be giving out countless warnings like be careful, don’t fall out, don’t stand on it. Now, it is illegal, of course. Yet, riding in the back of my dad’s truck is one of my fondest memories.

Way back when…my parents left us home by ourselves all the time. We NEVER had a babysitter. EVER. So, many exciting events took place as you would imagine, as in Lord of the Flies exciting. One time my brother chased us around the house with a machete. It was his machete. Why was he allowed to own one? Who knows. He got so enthralled playing Rambo that he sliced the cushion on our couch. We turned it over and never told on him. Months later when my mom was cleaning she rotated the cushions and discovered it. I don’t think the machete was even taken away! And on multiple occasions we would use my dad’s hunting knives to take bark off of sticks and make fishing poles.

Now, my brother would be labeled a menace to society. But besides that, I can barely trust my son with a toothpick.

Way back when…my mom and dad NEVER helped me with my homework. EVER. I never even thought to ask. They were not involved in my schooling WHATSOEVER. If I got detention, I don’t think they even knew. We never discussed it. I don’t think the school even told them about it.

Now, I get a hand written, detailed account of who did what with who, along with the many precautions that were taken. I have to sign a paper and we go over what the appropriate action should be taken the next time said event happens. Also, standing in the corner and having your name written on the board have been deemed tools of public humiliation and are forbidden. Therefore, your name is written on a bumble bee or airplane and is moved down to losing altitude when you break a rule. Ummm…I’m starting to miss my childhood… buzz.

Way back when….meals and snacks were handled differently. You want a snack? I’m sorry we’re eating lunch in an hour so that hunger that you’re feeling is natural and will be quenched at lunchtime. Can’t wait? Fine, have a rice cake. Rice cake? Yes, moms back then bought snacks that appealed to them, which meant when they were on a diet so were your snacks. What’s for lunch? Potted meat sandwich or cheese sandwich and chips. Your choice. No one cared what they were feeding their kids.

Now, I don’t ever leave the house without snacks. And not just any snacks. Healthy ones. People take pictures of their kid’s healthy snacks and display them on social media because this is what makes us proud nowadays. Also, no one knows what potted meat is anymore, or at least I hope. And the lunches are cute and varied and time consuming. It involves cutting, slicing, dicing, and peeling.

Way back when…children climbed trees. BIG ONES. I recently watched a video that my uncle took of my cousin and I climbing a tree that was so big had I fallen out of it I would have died.

Now, kids still climb trees. My son just did the other day, albeit a small one. Come on people, we’re not monsters. We let our kids climb things still, right?

I’m not saying one way is better than the other…okay, yes I am. My childhood rocked. I just hope my children feel the same way about theirs?

Sherry White

Sherry White writes about the messiness of life, parenting, and faith at her blog The Messy Christian. She tries to add her own brand of humor and insight into everyday issues we all face, reminding us that even though we find ourselves in countless messes, God’s grace lights the way. She would be thrilled if you follower her on Facebook and Instagram.