Then and Now

I’m fairly certain our parents enjoy watching the many challenges and struggles we face as we raise our son. I don’t mean in a HAHA kind of way, but in an ITOLDYOUSO kind of way. For them, things are coming to a full circle. The diaper changee has become the diaper changer, so to speak.

I grew up hearing stories of the hardships of childrearing, and continue to hear them to this day.

“Back in our day, we didn’t have baby monitors to watch the baby in the next room!”
“Back in our day, we had to wash cloth diapers by hand!”
…and the list continues.

Here’s the thing: childrearing today is not more difficult than it was back in their day. However, it is not easier either. It is just different.

A generation ago, if a woman cooked, cleaned, and kept her baby fed and clean, she was doing a good job. A baby playing in the backyard supervised by the trusty family dog was not only acceptable, it was commonplace. Having your 6-year-old walk with your toddler to the park was considered a lesson in responsibility. Baby teething? A little rum should take care of that.

 Our generation turned out okay, they say. Sure, we lost a couple of kids to electrocution and secondhand smoking. And, well, the rum sure explains the sheer stupidity I face on a daily basis – those brain cells never do regenerate, do they?

Today, parenting has been made a Science. Pregnancy tests should come with a subscription to Today’s Parent magazine, along with a few What to Expect books, and an enrollment in a 12-week prenatal and postpartum class. The list of DO’s and DON’Ts is so lengthy and contradictory, it is no small feat to keep track of it all.

We are the culture of:
scrapbooking every smile,
homemade, all natural and organic baby food,
baby sign language,
car seat recalls,
poo consistency,
Mommy and Me yoga,
Vitamin D drops,
swimming lessons,
and, of course, losing that baby weight!

So, while we may be blessed with certain modern conveniences, childrearing simply isn’t what it used to be. It has evolved from being something that any woman could do (and did) to a skill that today’s men and women need to work hard to master. We are the generation of parents that are continually bombarded with psychologically studies that matter-of-factly conclude how your childrearing choices today will affect your child tomorrow. As a result, our every action is so heavily scrutinized with social media being the icing on the cake. A facebook like, instagram <3, or re-tweet is the critical eye that makes us think, “Are we doing a good job?”

The answer? We’ll just have to wait and see if our generation’s offspring is smarter, stronger, healthier, more empathetic, more artistically-inclined, more socially-aware, and better looking than their predecessors.

Published by Anjali Joshi

Anjali Joshi is a science educator, author, and lifelong learner. She is mom to two curious boys who keep her on her toes!

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