How Has Parenting Changed Over the Years

It’s hard to believe that parenting was a very different experience just a few decades ago. No books or blogs were telling you what to do; instead, parents relied on their intuition and the advice of relatives. Parenting trends have come and gone over the years, but one thing remains constant: parents’ love and dedication for their children. Here are some of the ways parenting has changed over the years.

How Parenting Has Changed Through the Years

little girl holding hands with father (1)

Parenting has changed a lot over the years. Families used to be larger, so parents didn’t have as much one-on-one time with their kids. The acceptable parenting style was command and control—kids were expected to obey their elders without question. No parenting resources were available, so families had to figure out everything independently. Child protective services didn’t exist, so there was no safety net for abused or neglected children. And the advancement in science wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so parents didn’t have access to the same information we do now. Parenting is a lot different now than it was even just a few decades ago—and it will continue to change as our world does.

Let’s compare parenting back then and now.

Children’s Freedom and Independence

Parenting styles have changed over the years, giving children more freedom and independence. In the past, parents were more likely to adhere to strict rules and schedules, with little room for flexibility. Today, however, four distinct parenting styles are much more flexible and allow children to have a greater sense of autonomy. The four parenting styles are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. Authoritarian parents are the most strict, setting firm rules and expectations that must be followed. Permissive parents are much more lenient, providing their children with freedom and flexibility. Uninvolved parents take a hands-off approach, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Lastly, authoritative parents strike a balance between these two extremes, providing both structure and support. Each parenting style has its benefits and drawbacks, but all four offer a unique way to nurture and raise children.

Household Chores and Tasks the Kids Do

Parenting styles have definitely changed over the years, especially regarding household chores and the tasks kids are expected to do around the house. In the past, it was much more common for families to have only one working parent, which generally meant that the other parent stayed home to take care of the children and manage the household chores. This often resulted in children being given a lot more responsibility around the house, including doing things like laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Today, however, it is much more common for both parents to work outside the home, which has led to a change in parenting styles. Parents are now much more likely to delegate tasks to their children or hire someone else to do them. This is partly because families now have a higher socioeconomic status and can afford to outsource some of these tasks. It is also because more sophisticated technologies make it easier for parents to monitor their children’s homework or keep track of their schedules.

Child rearing

In the past, most parents would leave the older children to watch and care for their younger siblings. Something akin to uninvolved parenting in some ways. The older siblings were responsible for changing diapers, preparing food, and teaching their younger siblings manners. Today, family dynamics are much more child-friendly. And thanks to advancements in technology, some parents opt for a work-from-home setup or start an online business. This means that they can do chores with the children. Also gone are the days of washing soiled cloth diapers, chopping firewood, and hoping the kids are well-mannered enough to teach their younger siblings manners. Parents have fewer chores with disposable diapers, microwaves, gas stove tops, and YouTubers with questionable early childhood education backgrounds.

Washing Machines

Washing clothes has also changed from kids soaking and hanging clothes to kids just putting everything in a hamper to take to the cleaners or laundry service. Some families in the past would leave the laundry to the wife of the house for help. Nowadays, most homes have a washer/dryer that makes the chore more accessible and faster. Now the kids just have to transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer and do their best to avoid eating laundry pods.

Schools

happy parents laughing together with daughter (1)

The education system has also advanced. Gone are the days when kids are taught to be seen, not heard. Gone are the days when kids were taught how to keep their emotions bottled up. Nowadays, the emotional and social development have the same value as cognitive development. Modern schools adopt a “learn through play” approach, far from the “sit down and keep your eyes on the board” approach.

Laws

Laws regarding child protection and child abuse were, back then, nonexistent. Parents would leave the children locked in the house to “keep them safe” when the parents were away. The rod was a popular tool to instill discipline in children, and calling children derogatory terms and demeaning their whole existence was called “a scolding.”

Nowadays, the law would call it neglect, abuse, or downright criminal. Today’s laws encourage parents to cultivate the child’s emotional development and mental well-being. Child protection services are always looking for backward parenting behaviors that might resurface in these modern times.

Household and Family Structure

The evolution of the family has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last century. A hundred years ago, families were large, with several children and often grandparents living under one roof. Today, families are smaller, more diverse, and more likely to be nuclear families, living independently from extended family members. Technology has also played a role in changing family dynamics, with parents able to stay in touch with their children via text, email, and social media.

Single-parent households are becoming more and more common. Blended families—families with step-parents or step-siblings—are also on the rise. And finally, extended families—families who live close to and support one another—are becoming increasingly common. These changes have impacted parenting, and parents have had to adjust their methods accordingly. For example, single parents often rely on extended family members or friends to help with child-rearing. In contrast, parents in blended families often have to deal with the challenges of managing multiple different schedules and personalities.

Motherhood

The acceptable age for motherhood has changed dramatically over the years. In the past, women were often married young and started having children immediately. However, nowadays, women are waiting longer to get married and are more likely to wait until their 30s to have children. This change is due to several factors, including the increased importance of education and career goals. For many women, becoming a mother is now a conscious choice after careful consideration. As a result, the average age of first-time mothers has slowly but steadily risen over the past few decades. The trend shows no signs of slowing down, which means that our society is evolving in its understanding of family and motherhood.

Children’s Feelings and Mental Health

In the past, parenting was often about authoritarianism and control. Children were seen as miniature adults who needed to be taught discipline and respect for authority. However, our understanding of child development has changed dramatically in recent years, and we now know that children need to feel safe and loved to thrive. Children who don’t feel secure can develop mental health problems that can last a lifetime.

Fortunately, many resources help parents create a loving and supportive home environment. We now know more about how children think and feel and can offer guidance on responding to their needs. We also better understand the importance of positive parenting in promoting mental health and child development. We can help our children grow into happy and successful adults by providing love and support.

Working Mothers

In the past, it was assumed that mothers would stay home to care for their children while fathers went out to work. However, nowadays, it is much more common for both parents to work outside the home. This change has had several effects on families. For one thing, it has made it easier for mothers to balance their work and family responsibilities. In the past, working mothers often had to choose between spending time with their children and earning a paycheck. Nowadays, more options are available, such as flexible work schedules and telecommuting. As a result, mothers can have careers while still spending plenty of time with their kids. In addition, this change has also helped to break down traditional gender roles. Fathers were typically the breadwinners, and mothers were responsible for caring for the home and raising the children. Nowadays, however, parents are much more likely to share these responsibilities evenly.

Education and Games

In earlier years, parenting was based on traditions and customs passed down through families. Parents now have access to a wealth of information that wasn’t available in the past. This has led to a more scientific approach to parenting. Additionally, the development of new technologies has resulted in changes in how children are entertained. Games are now more interactive and require less physical activity. As a result, children are spending more time indoors. This has led to parents being more involved in their children’s leisure time.

Modern Strategies and Approaches to Parenting

Parenting styles and methods have definitely changed over the years, some for the better and some not so much. The helicopter parenting style of constantly hovering and smothering a child is thankfully on its way out, to be replaced by the now famous “scaffolding parenting.” This type of parenting allows the child to explore and discover on their own while providing a safety net in the form of guidance and support when needed. Another modern parenting style is “conscious parenting,” which involves being fully present and attuned to your child’s needs at all times. This can be a challenge in today’s fast-paced world, but the benefits are worth it. And finally, there is “respectful parenting,” which is based on the belief that children are individuals with rights and feelings that should be respected. These are just a few of the many new approaches to parenting that have arisen in recent years, each with its advantages and disadvantages. No one style is perfect for every family, so it’s important to find one that works best for you and your children.

Parenting has come a long way since our parents were raising us. It’s more focused on the child and their development than ever before. Luckily, plenty of resources are readily available to help guide modern parents through this complex process. Many approaches have been proven to create successful outcomes for children, from authoritative parenting to positive reinforcement. So what’s the best way to parent in the 2020s? The answer is different for every family, but we hope our list of resources will give you an excellent place to start. Have you tried any of these methods with success? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to share this post with your fellow parents.

Charlee

Charlee

I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

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