From time immemorial, people have longed for the past. "Things were simpler," they sigh into the wistful haze. Of course, nostalgia depends on that wistful haze, forgetfulness, and, a tremendous amount of privilege. (You don't hear too many non-white people wax poetic about the beauty and gentility of the antebellum American South, for example). Lately, I feel, it's the '60s. Maybe it's the fact that newly-minted senior citizens came of age then, or the lingering allure of Mad Men. Whatever the reason: I'm game. Let's talk about things parents did in the '60s we should bring back. Immediately.
Did you know that before the 1950s, "parent" was not a verb? (Neither was "parenting.") I'm sure we can get into the weeds of why, but my theory is that having kids was just expected of pretty much everyone, so the idea of "parenting" as anything other than the natural progression of "what people do" would have been absurd before then. In the '60s, the term still wasn't widely used or popular outside of sociological/education circles. So it stands to reason that parents of the '60s didn't see the things they did as being specifically about "parenting" so much as "things you do because you're a human being and that's just what human beings do."
And oh, the things they did, folks! I can't wait to get back to the good old days when parents could:
Listen, back in the '60s cigarettes didn't have warning labels, which meant they must have been healthy. Think about it: tobacco is leaves. So, really, you guys, smoking a cigarette was just a fancy way of eating a salad. (And I'm guessing fewer calories, since it's being consumed as air instead of a dense, fibrous solid.) No wonder so many women smoked while pregnant and then continued to smoke in the house, car, and elsewhere with their children around. Secondhand smoke? More like secondhand vitamins and minerals, right? Taken with a Flintstones vitamin, it's the perfect way to ensure that your child grows up getting all the nutrients they need until they're old enough to smoke themselves.
Give The Nursery A Coat Of Lead Paint
Because, really, is there anything stronger than lead? Don't you want the most protective substance available for your baby? While you're at it, go ahead and do the whole house!
Sure, the dangers of lead, particularly of ingesting lead, were well-established even in the early 1900s, but just tell your baby not to put paint chips in their mouth. That should work, right? After all, we don't want government regulating businesses that deal with dangerous chemicals! That's hindering the free market! What are you? A Communist?! Speaking of which...
Maintain A Near Crippling Fear Of Communists
I feel like what truly made the '60s great wasn't the scientific or social advancements achieved in that decade. Neither was it the artistic cultural revolutions that changed the world. No, it was Americans' ability to join together in fearing and loathing a mythologized common enemy. Sure, the Red Scare was at its zenith a decade earlier in the '50s, but even in decline it was still at healthy levels of paranoia throughout the '60s. You've got your Bay of Pigs, your space race, and kids growing up with their parents unable to assuage their fears of mutually assured destruction. Ah the good old days.
Put Children In Super-Fun, Totally Safe Car Seats (If You Even Bother With One)
Nowadays, installing a car seat for your child can be a pain in the ass. You have to make sure it's secured several different ways and then, of course, you have to ensure that your child is buckled in properly. Many states have adopted or are adopting stricter laws to keep kids in car seats longer in accordance with recommendations put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but what do those nerds know?
Back in the '60s, you hooked a mostly cushion-free, metal-framed doohickey over the seat of your car (hopefully right up front with you), have your child straddle it, et voila! Done. If they want to get up and crawl around the car, they're free to do so. Was it safe? Well most kids turned out just fine. Never mind what happened to the kids who didn't because, hey, look! It has a little steering wheel attached! Not having any actual safety straps is a completely legit trade-off for a plastic steering wheel attached to a metal pole at chest level.
'Mad Men' Levels Of Drinking
Pregnant? Cheers! Watching your children? Cheers? Just waking up? Cheers! Is the baby teething? Put some whiskey on their gums!
If you think about it, guys, alcohol is a preservative: kind of like in the pickling process. So if you want to preserve all your major organs, especially your liver, doesn't it just make sense to drink all the time? You want to be around for your grandchildren, right? Who else is going to be around to tell them how much more wholesome everything was in the '60s?
All The Sexism
I don't know about you, but I feel like my kids are going to be so much happier if I perceive them not as unique individuals, but as filling one of two predestined modes of behavior based on nothing more than their genitals. And I feel like my daughter is going to appreciate being judged on her performance of femininity and perceived sexual virtue rather than her thoughts and personality. I mean, thinking is hard amiright, ladies? And sure, my son isn't going to be free to express an emotion outside of general congeniality or hyper-aggressive rage, but isn't that a small price to pay for dominion over women? Isn't it nice for everyone to just know their place and stay there? Speaking of which...
Limit Social And Economic Options For Moms
When I go on vacation, I like to have my concierge just sort of put together an itinerary for me, because I just don't want to handle the responsibility of making any decisions whatsoever. It's just so nice to sit back and be taken care of. Really, in a perfect world, shouldn't a marriage be exactly the same? (Oh, and it will be a marriage ladies: no babies out of wedlock for you once these plans roll out.)
I mean you say "economic independence," "choice," and "getting a credit card without your husband's permission" and all I hear is the sound of my own screaming because ahhhhhhhh! It's so much easier if we just let our husband's make all the decisions for us. All we have to do in return is literally everything they say!
Basically Never Supervise Your Kids
If your child is not in school, they had better be in the backyard, in the middle of the street playing with the neighborhood kids, or at the playground two miles down the road. Mama's busy ironing all of daddy's shirts the way he likes and "preserving" her liver.
(Actually, I do think '60s parents were kind of on to something here. #freerangekids)
Prepare For Your Child Inevitably Catching Measles, Mumps, And Rubella
Between 1963 and 1969, vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella (also known as German measles) were discovered and implemented. In 1971, they were combined into the MMR vaccine we know today. Before the vaccines, all three illnesses, especially measles, were common to the point that they were considered inevitable. But according to Pediatrics, within the first 20 years of its implementation, the measles vaccine alone prevented approximately 52 million cases of the disease, 17,400 cases of intellectual disability, and 5,200 deaths.
But, like a crippling fear of Communism, a potentially deadly illness is something, I believe, kids can really bond over, you know? So to hell with all these "highly effective" vaccines that have "all but eradicated dangerous and highly communicable diseases." Fortunately, as evidenced by new outbreaks, it looks like some parents are starting to pick up what I'm putting down.
Repress Your Homosexuality
Fun fact: until the Stonewall Riot, there were no gay people. Then, on of June 28, 1969, they just all magically appeared at the end of a glittery rainbow pumping house music at full volume. Sylvia Rivera hurled a brick and that was that: they've hung around ever since.
There were certainly no gay parents. Sure, some people might have thought they were gay, but they kept those thoughts and feelings to themselves, married someone of the opposite sex and gender, slapped a smile on their face and never, ever stopped smiling, because if they did then someone might be able to see their gay thoughts. Who wouldn't strive for that kind of life?!
Staying In Loveless Marriages Because Divorce Is Shameful
Unhappy in your marriage? Not as unhappy as you'd be as a shunned and reviled divorcée, you hussy! So go ahead and stay in your sham, shell of a relationship. Because it's not what you (or your partner or children) feel on the inside that's important, but what other people think about you and your family as the observe it from the outside that counts.
So there you have it, folks: we could all be living the dream if we just time traveled back to '60s and lived in what was so obviously a superior era. If any of you find a way to manage this, let me know and I'll get my husband's permission to join you.
(Note: clearly this is all horrible and while it's easy to get swept up in nostalgia, progress and moving forward and providing better for our children is the only option worth exploring.)