The Evolution of Parenting

Do you remember the episode of Little House on the Prairie when Albert Ingalls becomes addicted to morphine? It was a doozy complete with Albert stealing from Doc Baker, hitting his teacher and then going through severe withdrawals after Pa takes him away to a makeshift rehab at Mr. Edward’s cabin.

"Don't cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction."

“Don’t cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction.”

This episode shows that no matter the era, parenting is a really difficult job. Kids are kids. You will always have the needy infant, toddlers who throw fits for no apparent reason and of course, the rebellious teenagers.

The differences that come in to play between parenting during the 19th century and the 21st century, or even the generation before us is all of the technology and advancements to our world.

A lot of the technology and new inventions have made parenting in the present much easier. I feel bad that my mother’s generation had to use cloth diapers. I feel bad for the pioneer woman that had to wake up before dawn and start a fire in the house and bake bread even though she had probably been up all night with a baby. I know that dishwashers, microwaves and washing machines have made my role as a parent so much easier.

Technology is a double-edged sword though. It puts today’s parents in predicaments that Charles Ingalls never would have thought possible as he sat and cleaned up the vomit from one of Albert’s major puking sprees as he withdrew from that morphine.

The other day when I was in the shower, my 6 year old son came running into the bathroom screaming that my 3 year old son puked in the recliner while they were watching television. I quickly rinsed the shampoo out of my hair in a frenzy, horrifically anticipating the mess that waited for me when I got out.

I was happily surprised when I entered the living room and saw my 3 year old sitting in the recliner, watching his episode of Dora the Explorer with a blanket on his lap covered in puke. There was not one single drop on the chair or anything else. All I would need to do is deal with the blanket. As I lifted the blanket off of him I noticed something sticking out from the pile of vomit.

It was the remote control for the television.

Pioneer women may have had to make their own candles and hand sew all of the family’s clothes but they never had to figure out how to wash a remote control covered in puke.

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

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This Is What I Would Give Them

I’m sure we all grew up having our parents tell us how good we have it compared to how they grew up.

Neither of my parents had a television set until they were of preteen age and then it was only 1 or 2 channels depending on the weather.

My father grew up in a house with no indoor plumbing.

My mom, well my mom actually didn’t have a lot to complain about. Her parents owned the general store in town. I often refer to my mom as Nellie Oleson (from Little House on the Prairie). My mom brought a bottle of Coca-Cola and a candy bar to school everyday for her lunch. Her Dad drove her to school and they had indoor plumbing! Still, she was born in the 1940’s and the world wasn’t equipped with the luxuries my generation had.

Soon, I too will take the right of passage of every parent, and begin to bestow unto my children the stories of how good they truly have it compared to what I had to deal with growing up.

This is me talking on our olive green rotary phone when I was 5 years old

Take for instance, the rotary phone, stuck to wall no less! I can barely have a conversation on the phone now with a cellphone. I can’t imagine being tethered to the wall! My children will have no idea how much better their teenage years will be, compared to what mine were!

Here I am typing away and proficient with a typewriter at 6 years old!

I began typing at 6 years old and used a typewriter all the way up to my senior year in high school. The horror of it all, thinking back on it now. The amount of time it took was unbelievable. I went through many bottles of white-out. My children will have no idea how much easier writing their essays for school will be, compared to what I went through.

My backyard growing up

I however had something my children may never have. This is the backyard I grew up with. This is where my parents still live. My children are growing up on a small lot in the city. From an early age I spent most of my days playing outside with the freedom to roam and run at my leisure. I had few playmates except for many pets. My sister and brother were much older than me so I was usually alone exploring and going on adventures through the woods.

The shed on our land

There was 2 1/2 acres filled with fruit trees, pine trees, a field, vegetable gardens and an old shed. My imagination was a vital element in my everyday life. I don’t remember ever being bored.

This is me at 2 1/2 years old….King of the World!

So yes, in many respects my children will have an easier life than I, due to modern conveniences and technology. However, they may never have this piece of serenity that I knew. They may never know what it’s like to wake up with an adventure everyday, just outside your door.

This is the childhood I wish I could give them.