Kids of the 80s

How parenting has changed through the years.

Was parenting in the 80s all Cabbage Patch Kids and The Cosby Show? Was Who’s the Boss an accurate depiction of the family structure? As our staff, mostly children of the 80s, set out to answer these questions, we decided to ask the people who know best: our parents, who raised us during the neon-laden decade. Likewise, art directors, Ilana Rispoli, Margaret Baldauf and Susanne Kimball, and editor, Kayla Mossien, interviewed their mothers, Natliya B., Anne B., Carol A. and LouAnn M. to get a firsthand account of how raising children just isn’t what it used to be. And how, when it comes it to being a mom, some things never change.

In your household, what was the role of mom and dad?

NB: Our role was to be good parents and make sure our family was happy.
LM: Dad went out and made the bacon and mom was home to cook the bacon.
AB: Dad worked and mom took care of the kids and house.
CA: I was a working mom who took on more of the disciplinary roles because dad worked longer hours. We both shared household duties.

Describe a birthday party.

NB: We invited family and friends with children to our home and had a small celebration. I made all the food and baked a cake.
LM: We celebrated at home with friends and family. Sometimes we hired clowns, etc. Sometimes we would have a bowling or skating party.
AB: It was at home with family and a few friends.
CA: Birthday parties took place at the home with a birthday cake, simple party games and between five and eight kids of the same age.

What were your child’s favorite playthings?

NB: My daughter loved to draw since she was 2. We gave her pencils and markers to draw. She also loved her teddy bears and any dolls.
LM: Play-Doh, Easy-Bake Oven, Lite-Brite, and things for painting and cooking.
AB: My son’s favorite toy was his wooden toolbox that my husband made for him. My daughter’s favorite toys were her baby dolls.
CA: Strawberry Shortcake doll, Cabbage Patch Kid doll, My Little Pony figures and barn, Teddy Ruxpin stuffed animal with cassette player and a cash register. Also, she loved a metal tricycle for outdoor use.

What were common family-time activities?

NB: We read books, watched movies, took walks.
LM: We enjoyed game night and movie night.
AB: Playing in the yard, playing with puzzles and reading books.
CA: Church on Sundays and then always going to an extended family’s home or a trip to a museum, aquarium or something fun that everyone enjoyed together. Once the children were older, going to their sporting events, concerts, etc. became something the family did together.

Where did you socialize or chat with other parents?

NB: In our home or theirs and at the playgrounds.
LM: I socialized in front of school waiting for dismissal and at afterschool events.
AB: At a playgroup made up of close friends, at church, at the library and at the park.
CA: Our block had many young families at the time with kids all around the same age.

Where did you get your parenting information?

NB: I learned from my own parents, parenting books and other friends/parents.
LM: My sources were mainly books.
AB: From my parents.
CA: We learned from our parents and common sense. I also read a lot of Dr. Spock books.

Would you rather raise a child in 1982 or today?

NB: Now would be better. There are a lot more opportunities.
LM: I would rather raise a child in the 80s versus today. In the 1980s, I noticed a shift with kids. They were developing an attitude of entitlement. Today’s youth expects everything without having to pay any dues.
AB: Although today children have more advantages and opportunities over children raised in 1982, as a parent I would prefer to raise a child today the same way I raised my children in the 80s.
CA: Much rather raise a child in 1982. Things were much simpler then, kids were more respectful and they weren’t forced to do things at an inappropriate learning age; ; kindergartners were learning social skills rather than the first 100 sight words. Kids today are too overstimulated. Also, helicopter parents (parents who get too involved in every moment of their children’s lives) weren’t around in 1982.

Parents of staffers feel that...

  • Children are more coddled today than in 1982.
  • Kids were more physically active before computers, iPhones and high-tech gaming devices.
  • Finding family time was easier in 1982.
  • Media has gone too far on what is allowed to air.
  • Children were more respectful 30 years ago.
  • Fathers are more involved today as parents as opposed to 30 years ago.
  • Children’s mental health wasn’t a prevalent parenting issue during the 1980s.
  • The health issue of childhood obesity wasn’t prevalent three decades ago.