What’s changed since your parents raised you?
The most amazing thing about becoming a parent is that moment when you realize literally no one knows what they’re doing. Maybe you read a birthing book or consulted with friends who had recently started down the parenting path. But even if you asked your parents for advice on how to raise your tiny human, and even if they remembered what worked or was fashionable when then were raising you, chances are their ideas wouldn’t hold up to the changing recommendations. Parenting norms are like my three year olds outfit — ever-changing.
So what’s changed since my parents raised me?
1) Dad does what?
Then: My dad was captain funny pants when I was small. Aside from providing some entertainment, and occasionally yelling at us to do something (or not to do something), he was pretty hands off.
Now: Husbands are moving towards equal partnership in household and childrearing related activities. Men change diapers, braid hair, and fold laundry! Amen.
2) Baby’s first shoes?
Then: Rigid, rubber-soled shoes. All that support was supposed to help babies learn to walk. And when kids were done with those first shoes, they got bronzed.
Now: Soft moccasin style shoes a la barefoot running craze. Minimalistic footwear helps their feet muscles develop. And when your kiddo is done with them, save them for #2, pass them to a pregnant friend, or donate them; baby shoes are great hand me downs!
3) Breastfeeding recommendations
Then: My mom was told to stop nursing me after about 10 or 12 weeks because they learned she was pregnant with my brother. Her doctor told her to stop nursing because they believed at the time it could cause a miscarriage. Mom followed the advice of her doctors without much concern or emotional upheaval. I was growing, that’s what mattered.
Now: Hospital nurseries are being phased out in favor of rooming in, ostensibly to support breastfeeding on demand. If breastfeeding is a struggle, it can be a really emotional experience fraught with judgement. For me, the first time was really challenging. My second kid, a little easier. No matter what your challenges are (with feeding or parenting in general), there are people to help you along the way.
4) Dressing baby
Then: I am a product of the ‘80s. I wore all the OshKosh. Did someone say pink overalls?
Now: Of course, you can still dress your baby in all the pink or all the blue. Some families are making conscious choices to flip the script on gendered clothing, dressing boys in pink and girls in truck motifs, or avoiding it all together in favor of gender-neutral clothes. Is that baby in pink a girl or a boy with a big sister or … ? Who cares!? They’re cute!
5) Starting solid foods
Then: Rice cereal. When we were small, the thinner the mush, the better was the standard thinking. Eventually, you’d mix in a fruit puree with the cereal or spoon jars of mystery purees into baby’s face.
Now: So many options. Rice cereal still exists. Purees. Homemade. Store bought. Jars and pouches. Baby led weaning. And puffs, lots and lots of puffs. One of the biggest changes even over the last couple of years is that you can now introduce allergens (like peanut or even cod!) just like other solid foods. That was a TOTAL no-no with my first baby.
A lot has changed in parenting in the last 30 to 40 years. Everything from what and how to feed the kiddos to clothes and the division of household labor has changed. Even amidst all these differences, parents are just out there doing the best they can for their children, which is no doubt what our parents were doing for us. Thanks, captain funny pants! Thank you, mom!
Contributed by: Sandy B.