Then and Now: How Parenting Has Changed in 25 Years

. September 1, 2017.
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We’ve all heard or said the equivalent of, “Back in the day, parents always/never used to [fill in the blank].”

“We always put our babies to sleep on their bellies and they turned out fine.”
“That kid just needs a good spanking. Back in our day, parents weren’t afraid to discipline their children.”

Much has changed in the world of parenting, and Toledo Area Parent has been here to track the changes since our first issue, 25 years ago. Whether you talk to a grandparent, young mother, or pediatrician, they all agree on one thing: the changes have been plentiful.

Rise of Technology

The discussion of changes in parenting over the years inevitably leads to the influence of technology. Mary Wyar, wedding/lifestyle photographer and mother of Locke (6) and Fox (3), muses, “I feel like my parents parented the exact same way as their parents did, and they didn’t really think about the choices they were making. They followed the same path their parents did without necessarily analyzing it.”

“We have a lot more resources than our parents did. We can get on our computers or phones and research something,” Wyar said. “They did the best they could with the resources they had.”

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More information, more concerns

Dr. Robert Mills, Senior Partner of PediatriCare Associates who has been practicing pediatrics for just over 30 years, reiterates this point: “Questions from our parents have become more and more sophisticated with the advent of the internet and social media. As would be predicted, this can be very beneficial, or [it] can actually be harmful depending on the validity of the information.”

“Many parents come into our office loaded with excellent questions after doing online research regarding certain medical conditions,” explained Dr. Mills. “Unfortunately, medical information is sometimes sensationalized and causes undue fear…. A recent example was an internet story on the dangers of ‘dry drowning.’ For weeks, I answered questions from many concerned parent…I had to remind them that some authors…are paid per ‘click’ and to reassure them of the rarity of this condition.”

Immediate access

Mary Schoen, intervention specialist, mother and grandmother, echoes these sentiments: “As a whole, there are lot of more bells and whistles to parenting than we had. Kids have iPads, iPhones, streaming movies–all at their whim. We had to wait until 8:00 to watch The Grinch!”

“There are so many things to entertain the kids at such an early age, and you have to monitor your kids a lot more than we did–what’s online, what’s on TV, what’s on Netflix,” Schoen continues. “We simply had to keep track of our kids’ friends and who their parents were. Everything was much more family-oriented then; there weren’t TV shows you couldn’t watch. We didn’t have the fear of the ‘bad guy’ out there like you guys have.”

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Parenting and Education

Mary Schoen has been teaching for 30 years, both in private and public schools, and she has noticed an overall decline of parent involvement. “25 years ago, most of the moms were stay-at-home-moms and you had a lot more parent participation. Parents were volunteering, involved in the education process, and concerned about their children’s grades.”

Schoen continues, “If you called home with a problem or if a student wasn’t doing well in class, they would back you up. Parents would work with the student at home or talk to the student about proper behavior in the classroom. There was usually some kind of punishment at home as well.”

“I think parents question the teacher’s authority much more than they did in the past,” Schoen concludes.

Wyar observes education through the eyes of a parent and offers an alternative view. “I think the expectations on the kids and parents are higher than they used to be,” Wyar says. “Many issues fell through the cracks, things that required speech therapy and OT, but maybe the kids are just being overanalyzed now.”

Wyar illustrates with a personal example: “Locke’s teacher says he has a weakened core because he can’t sit still during reading time, but I feel like they’re boys and they shouldn’t be expected to sit still at 5 or 6.”

Even extracurricular activities carry higher stakes these days. “When we were kids, sports were something you just went to the rec center to sign up for when you were in middle school,” Wyar said. “Now there’s this pressure at 4 years old to have your kids involved in something–violin lessons, travel swim team, travel soccer team–at 5 years old. Having your kid…committed to something at such a young age is tough.”

Dr. Mills adds, “I have also found more parents stressing over educational issues as their children become young adults. With cell phones and social media allowing for instantaneous and frequent contact with students ‘away’ at college, parents have been challenged to find the right balance for interacting with their developing young adults.”
Views and opinions on parenting may differ, but everyone can agree on one thing: we want our children to be happy and loved. Schoen stresses, “We still want our kids to have lots of different experiences, to be exposed to a lot of different things. We want them to have a better life than we had.”

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Parent Profiles: The Early Years

It’s not just parents who make a difference in the lives of children… Here’s a look back at some of the advocates, educators, and mentors we’ve featured in the past.

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Joyce Davis Puppeteer Sept./Oct. 92

In 2000, Joyce Davis retired from her 30-year career as owner and operator of the successful Fairgreen Preschool. Since then, she has carried on her passion for entertaining children with her creative and educational puppet shows.

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Chuck Hage, Teacher and Just Kiddin’
Around band member Nov./Dec. 92

Chuck Hage and his wife Elisa are still entertaining children with their fun, whimsical (and sometimes silly) songs and high-energy concerts with their band, Just Kiddin’ Around.

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Dr. Susan Clay Hufford Sept./Oct 93

The friendly and passionate Dr. Susan Clay Hufford has been in practice for more than three decades and is still serving families as a trusted, knowledgeable pediatrician.

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Diane Larson. SEPT. 94

With over 30 years experience, the long standing, award-winning journalist is just as familiar as ever. Today, Larson is seen nightly with co-anchor Lee Conklin on 13abc Action News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm.

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Denise Fleming, Illustrator Nov. 94

This children’s picture book creator found her passion for painting as a third grader at the Toledo Museum of Art. Nearly four decades later, Fleming continues to create award-winning children’s books in her uniquely-textured and vibrant style.

Great Unknowns

Beginning with the first issues of Toledo Parent in September/October 1992 (we published an issue every 2 months back then), we’ve shared many favorite places and spaces that some parents might not know about. The original column, featured on the cover, was titled The Great Unknown, and each issue we highlighted a local place to visit or attraction for young families. With the help or our readers, we’ve shared many hidden gems in this area. Here’s a look at some of the Great Unknowns throughout the years.

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Sept. 94 / Sauder Farm and Craft Village
Take a step back in time and experience (and appreciate!) how Americans lived and worked in the last century.

Sept./Oct. 92 The Mother’s Center of Toledo an organization for women with young children to meet, share ideas and support each other.

Nov./Dec. 92 The Wolcott House Museum take a tour and step back in time at this historical house on River Road in Maumee, which is full of antique toys, Indian artifacts and lots of history.

Jan./Feb. 93 Ritter Planetarium – located on the campus of the University of Toledo, this is your gateway to the universe. Here you can learn historical and scientific facts about planets, stars and constellations.

Mar./April. 93 Crane Creek State Park –located on State Rt. 2, this park has 79 acres of beach and marsh, with a half-mile, man-made bird walk that goes out over the marsh. You can see owls, hawks, eagles and ducks here.

May./June 93 Stranahan Arboretum you can explore and enjoy 47 acres of cultivated ornamental trees, rolling lawns, natural woods, ponds and prairie.

Sept./Oct. 93 Area Apple Orchards – MacQueen’s, Erie Orchards

Jan./Feb. 94 The Toledo Firefighters Museum – located at 918 Sylvania Ave., check out old trucks, see vintage fire equipment and maybe meet a retired fireman.

May/June 94 The 577 Foundation – a family-oriented center at 577 Front St. in Perrysburg, this non-profit offers classes, nature opportunities and a biodome.

DEC. 94/JAN. 95 Matthes Evergreen Farm get in the holiday spirit at this family farm in Ida, Michigan where you’ll find 130 acres of spruces, firs and pines to choose from for your perfect Christmas tree.