6 Parenting Secrets From the 1970s Modern Moms Need to Know

6 Parenting Secrets From the 1970s Modern Moms Need to Know

We rounded up parenting lessons of yesterday that today’s moms would do well to learn.


By Lauren Brown

When I was growing up, my parents let me play outside for hours. Unsupervised! Sometimes, my parents knew the kids I was with, sometimes they didn’t. Every minute of my day wasn’t scheduled down to when I ate, showered, and went to bed. The Internet didn’t exist, so there were no mommy bloggers offering conflicting advice on everything from family time to family beds. In fact, I’m pretty sure no parenting books ever graced the bookshelves in my childhood home. When I was out of the house, the only way I could contact my parents was by a landline or payphone.

Those seemingly simpler times of the ’70s and ’80s weren’t that long ago. So why does it feel like another lifetime? And when did helicopter parenting and overscheduling and a constant stream of worry and anxiety become the preferred method of raising kids today? As a new mom myself, I’m doing everything in my power to relax and trust my instincts -- despite living in a society fueled by information overload. But it’s tough not to worry when all my fears can be escalated with a simple middle-of-the-night web search.

So, how can we learn from our past to ease up on our kids’ present and give them a less anxious -- but fulfilling -- life? Kristen Race, a child and family psychologist and author of Mindful Parenting, offers these six tips based on the best practices of parenting from the ’70s and ’80s.

1. More free play, fewer scheduled activities. “It is terribly easily to get sucked into the belief that we need to give our kids every possible opportunity that comes home in the school folder,” says Race. “Kids today have [significantly] less play time than they did a generation ago. This is problematic, as the unstructured time allows their brains to develop in a healthy way. Involving them in so many organized activities actually increases their stress, and our stress as parents. Don’t overthink it -- let your child pick one or two activities a season, so they have a few days during the week to enjoy some playful and relaxed afternoon time.”

2. Use social media, but don’t forgo face-to-face time. “Social media can provide great support,” says Race. “However, social media cannot provide the same value as face-to-face interaction with others. Human beings need this kind of personal face-to-face interaction to support their wellbeing. Social media can often leave people feeling like, ‘Why aren’t I as happy as that person? Her posts just seem like everything is always great!’ Don’t give up girls’ night in lieu of online friendships!”

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3. Don’t use your handheld devices as the babysitter. “There was a value of boredom that existed back in the ’70s and ’80s,” explains Race. “Boredom often can elicit creativity in a child, but today as soon as we hear ‘I’m bored,’ we are so quick to stick a screen in our child’s face. This [doesn’t] allow them the time and space to think creatively, problem solve, and learn ways to cope with discomfort -- such as waiting for a table for 20 minutes at a restaurant or sitting in traffic.”

4. Don’t be afraid to relax and let your child fail. “A busy mind is an anxious mind, and most moms don’t allow themselves the chance to relax,” notes Race. “This anxiety and worry carries over to so many facets of our lives, including this fear of seeing the slightest thing go wrong for our child. The result is this hovering parent. We are so aware of what the ‘Joneses’ are doing that when we try constantly to keep up with them, we often don’t allow the opportunity for our children to fail. And failure has a myriad of positive benefits for the growth mindset development of our children.”

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5. Less is more. Race believes we tend to be obsessed with this idea that more is better. “Buying more, doing more, and this obsession that more leads to happiness,” she says. “The reality is that this hectic life we have created puts us in a constant state of low-grade stress that makes us worried, anxious, and depressed. Thankfully, this is starting to shift. With the growth of movements like yoga and meditation retreats for families -- schools are even recognizing the value of purposeful breaks. They’re slowing down and taking time for health and wellbeing and a focus on productive, healthy lifestyles.”

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6. Shake it off. “Give your kids the freedom to make mistakes, learn from these mistakes, and bounce back up and try again,” Race advises. “Don’t be terribly bothered if a coach or teacher says something about your child that might be construed as constructive criticism. Use that as an opportunity for growth, rather than as an opportunity to feel like you’re a bad parent and the person delivering that message is the epitome of all things evil.”

What are you most anxious about when it comes to parenting?


Lauren Brown is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie/expert who just took on her most exciting and exhilarating assignment yet – new mom to an adorable baby girl!

Image ©iStock.com/IS_ImageSource


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