Moving back into my childhood home has given me a sense of Deja Vu. In August 1965 Mom and Dad moved into a new home with two sons—the younger, a chubby one-year old. Fifty years later, Esther and I moved into the same house with our own chubby-cheeked (almost) one-year old.
Many things changed in the years between the first and second set of Priegue parents moving into the same Cape Cod house in Queens. In 1965 Lyndon Johnson was President, the Beatles played Shea Stadium and the Kansas City Royals didn’t exist.
Parenting norms and guidelines changed as well:
Guidance and Advice – Fifty years ago parenting books barely existed. There were no internet, parenting websites, or Google searches. How did they survive? Parents relied on common sense (not a common commodity these days), family traditions, and baby whisperers. Some methods were inconsistent but many generations of children were raised this way—I’m one of them. I won’t say I turned out ok—the jury is still out on that one.
Child Proofing – In the 50s and 60s, it was more of a suggestion than a rule. It wasn’t as bad as—he fell down a flight of stairs or pulled a heavy chair onto himself. He’ll learn, but it wasn’t too far off either. Parents can now do a quick Internet search for guidelines, checklists and services to childproof their home taking some of the anxiety out of that loud crashing sound coming from the other room.
Car Seats– They didn’t exist in the ’60s, and seatbelts were ignored. Back then mom cradled her newborn in the front seat and the older children rode in the back, unbuckled. Jamming on the brakes potentially shot one of your children through the windshield like a projectile. This was before ambulance chasers and frivolous lawsuits. Just roll around on the ground and act hurt.
Today’s parents have multiple car seats options —maybe too many. Infant seats, forward-facing, rear-facing, one-year old seats, two-year old car seats, click and go seats attaching to baby strollers etc. The four-point restraint system in Cristian’s car seat resembles what NASCAR drivers use. It keeps him safe, but we’ll have to find another way to pay for his college education.
Corporal Punishment-Fifty years ago slapping, smacking and hitting a child was an acceptable form of discipline. Things change over time and most parents use other methods, maybe with the exception of Adrian Peterson. Have we evolved or has the invention of the cell phone camera changed our thought process?
Baby Thermometers-This may be the greatest advancement in the past fifty years. Parents now have an efficient non-invasive tool for taking a child’s temperature. A quick scan, or swab is all it takes, much better than the old way—the rectal thermometer. Resembling, and feeling like, a small harpoon, it was the gold standard for many years. Memories of it and the jar of vaseline it was paired with still give me the full-body shiver. Technology is a good thing.