We should probably leave some old-school parenting trends in the past. But what about the ones that deserve to be brought back? If you’re a parent, you can probably vouch that modern-day moms and dads and older generations don’t see eye to eye on everything parenting-related. Over time, parenting trends and styles have changed to reflect ever-evolving family ideals and best practices. Parents are dividing and conquering household, financial, and childcare duties in countless ways that were likely seen as unconventional before our time. Generations of decades past might argue that those of us raising children today are too overprotective, too attached, too permissive, and too worried. Whatever the case might be — it’s too much of this or too much of that.
On the other hand, there are also plenty of family-focused trends from the generations before us that we would be wise to learn from. In all fairness, those that parented before us were onto something in many of their ways. We may not always agree on how to raise our children, but we should seriously consider bringing back at least some of the old-school parenting trends that our parents utilized while raising us.
1. Eating Dinner as a Family
I’m willing to bet that although this is still a common practice in many homes, eating dinner together as a family probably isn’t nearly as prioritized as it once was. With school, work, extracurriculars, and the general demands of everyday life becoming increasingly nonstop in society today, something as simple as gathering at the table can easily fall off the to-do list.
2. Teaching Manners
As a parent who has also worked with thousands of children in various learning environments over the years, it’s evident that this doesn’t always happen at home these days. When the kiddos who regularly say “please” and “thank you” are the ones who stand out, you know times have changed. From what I’ve gathered, those simple words were a basic expectation at one point. Let’s start focusing on courtesy and teaching manners again!
3. Encouraging Kids to Play Outside
Or even, dare I say, making them play outside. My clearest childhood memories take me back to scratchy berry bushes, chilly outdoor ice rinks, rustic daytime hikes, camping adventures in the mountains, the good old town beach on the river, and the simplicity of my own backyard — grass snakes, dirt, wildflowers and all. I’m grateful for the deep appreciation for nature that I still have, and I hope my children experience the same. There’s a whole world of exploration, joy, and beauty to be found outside of the walls of our homes and the confines of technology!
4. Keeping Celebrations Simple
Birthday parties, graduations, gender reveals, the list goes on. Everything is more over the top now than it was (if it even existed) when we were young. Sure, milestones can be a great opportunity to go all out. But is it necessary? Absolutely not. There’s something so special about looking back at fuzzy disposable camera prints of my first birthday at Pizza Hut and my second at home on the living room floor. Being surrounded by my closest family, a few special toys, and nothing but love was so priceless. Those were the good old days.
5. Involving Children in Household Duties
When I was young, my absolute favorite chore was dusting. While my mom vacuumed across the room, I’d find whatever fixture I could to get to work on. I’m not saying this will be every little one’s cup of tea. However, if we give our children the opportunity to pitch in, they’ll quickly prove just how capable they are! I promise you that the sense of responsibility instilled in our youth will be a respectable trait as they grow and venture out into the world. Plus, what parent out there wouldn’t fully appreciate bringing this old-school parenting trend back?
6. Not Always Giving in to the Latest Material Things
This old-school parenting trend is one that really stands out in today’s culture. Materialism has exploded. Cell phones that cost up to a month’s mortgage payment, the most expensive sneakers on the market, and name-brand clothing because it’s “what everyone has” have become too common today. When I was a child, some of my most prized possessions were my Lisa Frank journal, my well-loved and worn-in Pocahontas fringe t-shirt, and Silly Putty. Kids are content with simple things. Let’s get back to showing them we don’t need everything else under the sun!
7. Physical Photo Albums
Technology is great, but realizing you only have your most precious memories saved to a realm that could crash at any given point is eye-opening. Plus, who knows where it’ll be when our kids are grown? Wouldn’t we be doing them a favor by ensuring they can look back on glimpses of their upbringing one day? There’s nothing like holding moments captured in time right in the palm of your hands.
8. Relying on Their Village
If you’re lucky enough to have a village — even if it’s simply a reliable set of grandparents and a sibling or two — you probably already happily do this. Unfortunately, so many new parents lack support. While we only have so much control over this, it’s a wonderful thought to think about how much more manageable modern-day parenting would be with a little more old-fashioned familial and neighborly connection.
9. Leaning into the Simple Things on a Rainy Day
What happened to rainy days spent at the local library? It seemed more simplistic to be able to check out a book on kids’ science experiments to then go home and race to complete it. Nowadays, Facebook moms’ groups are full of threads asking, “What’s there to do today?” anytime the sun isn’t shining. The truth is, there’s so much to do to keep kids entertained without feeling the need to bend over backward. Time hasn’t changed that.
10. Parenting Authentically and Not to Compete or Compare
It would be amazing if our generation of moms and dads (okay, maybe I’m speaking more to the moms here) could genuinely say parenting doesn’t ever feel like a competition. The truth is, though, it often does. We all have that friend who boasts about how advanced her dancing daughter is or how all-out she’s going for her son’s fifth birthday party. Good for them. But who really cares? Let’s do ourselves and our children a favor and get back to what really matters in the grand scheme of parenting. That is, simply raising our children to be their own personal best. No comparisons are needed.
It’s no surprise that parenting styles have changed over time. As technology, child-rearing values, and families evolve, so do the specifics regarding how we choose to raise our children. This is something to embrace and lean into. When we know better, we can do better. At the same time, there are absolutely some old-school parenting trends we shouldn’t be afraid to bring back!