When my grandmother used to talk about raising my mom and aunt, it was hard to believe some of her stories actually happened. I mean, the things parents did less than 50 years ago were batsh*t crazy, and definitely wouldn't fly today (at least, I would assume they wouldn't in most households). I know previous parents meant well, of course, but when I hear those "survivor stories" from my mom or dad (even from my own childhood), I cringe a little. Sure, the world is ever-changing, as is each subsequent generation, but do we still need to explain why seat belts aren't only legally required, but helpful in preventing possible deaths?
I can't remember how old I was — young enough not to know better, but old enough to have the memory — when car safety wasn't really a thing, but I almost died from not wearing a seatbelt. I wasn't buckled and decided to swing my door open as my mom sped along a highway. I was dangling halfway out of the car while she swerved with one hand and tried to prevent me from falling out with the other. Luckily, she got a hold of me and — spoiler alert — I lived! With how safety conscious parents are these days, it's hard to believe that kind of thing could have ever happened.
It did happen, though,and I'm so glad us modern parents have come a long way when it comes to car, seatbelt, and car seat safety. Still, that's only one improvement on a long list of differences between past and present parents. So with that in mind, I present to you the batsh*t insane things parents did back in the day, because wow:
Breastfeed While Driving
My mom used to drive and breastfeed and, uh, 10/10 do not recommend nursing mothers do the same. I don't know how she managed to maneuver the car and a baby — especially when her driving has always been below average, at best. Again, I lived to tell the tale, but it's still pretty batsh*t crazy, if you ask me. Like, just pull over for a few.
Left Kids Alone For Long Periods Of Time
When my mom was little, she was left to fend for herself while my grandmother and grandfather worked long hours. My aunt was 10 years older, living a whole other life with her family, so there was no one left to keep an eye on my mom. Back in those days, though, everything was a little safer. It wasn't abnormal to hang out in the car while your parents went into the store, or stay home all day while they worked.
However, when I was 10 years old, the age my daughter is now, I'd been home alone with my younger brother for years while our single mom worked. The world's only become less safe in the years since my mother was a girl, and the neighborhoods my brother and I grew up in weren't remotely as safe as the one my mom was raised. It wasn't unusual to hear gunshots or rowdy teens wreaking havoc in the street across from us on the regular. When I think back to how often, and how long, my brother and I were home by ourselves, I hug my own kids a little tighter.
Let Kids Wander Town Past Dark
My parents speak of having the freedom to wander town all hours of the day and night, only returning home for the three square meals every day in the summer. It doesn't sound batsh*t crazy initially — it sounds childlike and carefree. When my brother and I were little, we, too, walked through town (as young as 5 or 6) and none of the things we did while out were safe in any regard. I know our parents didn't think of the dangers, but they were there (and probably why I helicopter parent my own kids now).
Hired Unqualified Babysitters
I started babysitting my brother when I was in elementary school, and before that, my (barely) older cousin "watched" me (read: locked herself in my bedroom with her boyfriend). Our parents had to work and someone had to "watch" the kids. While not necessarily batsh*t crazy, having children watch other children probably wasn't the best way to go. Live and learn, I guess?
Had Kids "Walk Miles & Miles To School"
Everyone I know has heard a parent or grandparent claim they walked to school both ways (and uphill and in the snow), am I right? Walking to school doesn't sound like that big of a deal until you factor in weather, chance of kidnappings, or being hit by a car, and literally every fear I've ever had as a parent to two kids, myself. No, thank you. I'll drive them.
Immortalized Pinups Girls For All To See
Years ago, men — including my dad — flaunted sexist imagery and unrealistic beauty standards of the pin-up girl variety. They were in gas stations, at shops while the car was getting the oil changed, in the garage, and in magazines on top of the bathroom toilet. I honestly couldn't help but feel icky whenever I saw one. If not batsh*t crazy, it's demeaning and affected the way I viewed myself. Thankfully, my partner would never do anything like this. The only woman he immortalizes is me.
Smoked With Car Windows Up
Eventually, I hope cigarette smoking is no longer relevant. When my dad was a child, however, smoking was "cool," and that status symbol carried over into his adult years as an addiction — one he only just overcame after a near-death experience at the hospital. I still remember trying to escape his car when he'd drive us in his red pickup, smoking with all the windows up. I thought it was batsh*t crazy then, and I still do today.