When I was a child, I remember hearing adults say, “back in my day…” I used to jokingly say it from time to time as I entered adulthood. Now I have caught myself saying it more often and meaning it.
Society changes as a collective. Our standards of how we want to live evolve. Ten years ago, most people had no idea what a smartphone was. Twenty years ago, most people weren’t connected to the Internet. Thirty years ago, people used VCRs to record and watch shows. Forty years ago, people used rotary phones with no caller ID or answering service or call waiting. I’m pointing out technology because that seems to be the way our society judges its advancements. The latest and greatest tech gadget, now readily available for your two year old to use.
More often than not, when I’m talking about “back in my day…” I’m talking about how I experienced life. We didn’t grow up with helicopter parents and bubble wrapped children (those that did that were the odd ones). My parents let me walk out of the house, jump on my bike without a helmet and wander the neighborhood. Sometimes I’d meet friends or other kids, sometimes I’d be exploring on my own. My friends and I would wander up to the corner store and buy lotto tickets at the age of eight. I could buy cigarettes by age fourteen for my father and no one asked for ID. This never got my parents in trouble with the law for not being overly protective. I could go on public transit with my younger sister and the bus driver never asked where our parents where.
If we made mistakes in life, it was a learning experience. My parents never blamed other people for me being a dumbass. It wasn’t my teacher’s fault or the people I hung out with. I owned it & either I learned from it or I did something stupid again until I learned from it.
Now to get to my point- I am a parent of three children. My oldest is a teenager and her siblings are close behind. As much as I want to blame people for any mistakes my children make, I know that it is ultimately their own choices that they are making. I try to give them freedom to discover the world around them and who they are as people. Planning “play dates” or ensuring that the movies they watch at a friend’s house are PG isn’t offering freedom. I know that if they want to go out and rebel that they will. No amount of spyware or GPS will prevent that. I’m worried that today’s society is overly protective and controlling. The courts are forcing parents to be glued to their children until they are adults.
So, to my children- get out there and have fun. I’m not going to interfere in every choice you make. But I will be watching- because “back in my day” I did the same stupid stuff that you are likely to do.