Imperfect 1970s Parenting

Amazingly, I made it through childhood. It was the 1970s and 80s and “perfect parenting” inspired by countless news stories, web advice, magazines, and Pinterest didn’t exist.
There were no courses for my parents to take, no blogs to read for advice, no social media to bounce ideas off of friends (or to make them feel like failing parents). There was simply trial and error (mostly error by today’s standards) and the occasional words of wisdom from my parent’s parents – which consisted mostly of such gems as “Don’t let him drink beer” or “Let him stick his finger in the socket. Once he gets shocked, then he won’t do it again!”

All that being said, I had a great childhood with two loving parents who cared for me deeply and always took care of me. However, I am sure that half the things that they did on my behalf would be called “child neglect” today. Still I made it through and lived to tell the tale. Here are five things that parents feel are a must today that “back in the day” simply didn’t happen…

Five Present Day Parenting “Musts” That Never Happened In The 70s


Say what!? I never, ever remember being strapped in a car seat. I barely remember wearing a seat belt. But what I do remember is our old Ford Country Squire Station wagon with the fake wood paneling on the outside. It had dual, pop up seats that faced each other – all the way in the back of the car. I was simply told to climb back there and hang out. Heck, I could have just as easily climbed out of the rear door or window. And, if there had ever been a fast stop, I would have flown all the way to the front windshield in seconds flat!


Uhhh, no. However, I got kind of in the ball park. My dad was raised on a farm so we did have canned everything from my grandmothers house (of course it was all made with three pounds of sugar and a half gallon of heavy cream). We also had a large garden in the back yard that we got fresh vegetables from. But as far as “grass fed, cage free, hormone free, gluten free” anything, forget it! I know for a fact that our local, small town grocery had no organic section. But there was one heck of an artery clogging butcher station. And, much to my delight, they did have a large stand up cooler full of RC Cola and I would down a 16 ounce bottle at least once a day. This was of course to wash down the fried chicken that we would have for dinner at least twice a week.


The effort was there but a healthy breakfast for my dad consisted of a huge plate of biscuits and gravy with a side of ham AND sausage PLUS two eggs and pancakes. Not exactly “health conscious” or light! Now if that wasn’t making my taste buds happy (and it usually wasn’t), I got whatever sugar filled cereal that was in the house (Honeycombs was the fave) and if we were out of milk, forget it! Breakfast then was an Oreo cookie or the left over pizza or the left over, afore mentioned, fried chicken as I ran to catch the bus.


HA! In bed by eight with a bath and brushed teeth? Probably not. One of my proudest moments as a pre-teen was convincing my parents to let me stay up to watch Johnny Carson which of course was on after the news and ran for 90 minutes. Plus, don’t even get me started on the “not recommend for children” content that was on the Tonight Show. Johnny and his chain smoking, womanizing, sexual innuendo filled, foul mouthed group of regulars. But I loved it! I can’t tell you how much I miss that late night gang, everyone from Dean Martin to Jonathan Winters to Burt Reynolds! That comedy wit and banter is exactly what led me to my life in entertainment and writing.


Safety latches? Outlet covers? Gates at the top of the stairs? Forget it! There was no such thing as a child proof house. Any wandering four year old could have had a field day in almost any house in the 70’s. I remember spray painting the garage walls, falling down the stairs into my grandpa’s basement, and last but not least, somewhere around eight or nine, having a small firecracker blow up in my hand! Yep, I got my hands on firecrackers and matches. I was fine but I still have the scar as a reminder to listen to my elders.

However, while my mom didn’t “Rob proof” the house she did have the “off limits” room. The one with the covered furniture, manicured shag carpet, and perfect drapes. The room that I was not allowed to wander into because it was only for “company” – you know exactly the room I am talking about.

If you are past a certain age in life, all of these things ring true – and amazingly you are still alive to read about it!


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