Three Generations of Motherly Wisdom

. August 29, 2014.

Moms have been raising children for centuries, with eachgeneration transforming the child-rearing norms. Moms and grandmas give advice from the past on the most common, yet often the most challenging, parenting topics around – teething, potty training, tantrums and more. Though times have certainly changed the way we raise our kids, in many ways we are not much different from our own moms and grandmas in our age-old motherly wisdom—Mom still knows best!

The Chezek, Posluszny, Pavlick Families


Great grandma: Cloth diapers…didn’t everyone?
Grandma: I started with cloth because I received them as gifts. Disposable after that.
Mom: Disposable diapers.


Great grandma: I didn’t breastfeed.
Grandma: I breastfed all three, a year for the first one, less time for the others.
Mom: I breastfed mine, each for a little more than a year.

Sleep Routine:

Great grandma: I put her in bed. She was a good sleeper and was always sleepy. I sang Irish lullabies to her (Tura lura lura-an Irish lullaby)
Grandma: I was pretty strict. We didn’t fool around about that. We did whatever it took. The first one was a touch sleeper; she screamed and yelled a lot. We read books and sang the Irish songs.
Mom: My boys were not good sleepers. They woke up multiple times each night for the first nine months, so my mom suggested I better figure something out so I would get some sleep. I sang the Irish songs grandma sang.

Stay-at-home mom?

Great grandma: Yes, until my daughter was in school. Then I volunteered as a physical education teacher, Girl Scout leader, etc.
Grandma: I was home until the youngest went to kindergarten. I did part-time work after that.
Mom: I took maternity leave then went back to my dental practice two days a week. The kids stayed at home with a nanny, who was the daughter of my husband’s nanny. (She was a patient of mine!)

Home Remedies:

Great grandma: Vicks VapoRub for colds by the ton, and Listerine to gargle if she had a cold. My husband worked for Vicks then…
Grandma: I was still using the Vicks my mom stockpiled. I did honey and lemon for sore throats.
Mom: I use Vicks, but OTC meds for everything else.


Great grandma: I was easy, but I had limits. I sent her to her room if she misbehaved.
Grandma: My husband and I were fairly firm. We didn’t have any creative ways. It was go to your room or grounding. I don’t remember many tantrums.
Mom: I do “Time Out” or send them to their rooms. I expect challenges with two boys, especially since I am came from a family of all girls. I’ll be learning. 

Best advice to give kids:

Great-grandma: Be close to your children, always be warm and fuzzy.
Grandma: Always tell them you love them, even if they drive you crazy. Keep the lines of communication open.
Mom: My mom reminded me that parents are parents, not friends to their children. They might not always like decisions I make,
but they will see they are for their own good.

The Mann/Meyers/Milligan Families

Sleep Routine:

Great grandma: I used long, vigorous rocking sessions to settle the children down to sleep.
Grandma: We used a timer to decide when they had cried enough. Two had colic, so it took both of us to handle that at night.
Mom: My kids aren’t good sleepers. I read them a story (Harry Potter for the older one) after the bath and toothbrush routine.


Great grandma: Cloth diapers.
Grandma: The first child was a preemie, so we had very teeny tiny diapers. A donor gave us Johnson and Johnson preemie disposable diapers (they were new then). After that, I used cloth.
Mom: Disposable diapers.


Great grandma: Everyone had chores. The kids reminded us to give them their allowance.
Grandma: I had a chore list each week, and my kids helped, but didn’t get allowances. We rewarded them with special gifts and treats.
Mom: My older son clears his dishes. He helps with other chores and earns money, but there isn’t a structured list of what he is supposed to do.

Home Remedies:

Great grandma: Vicks VapoRub for colds, cold cloths on foreheads for fever.
Grandma: I hated the smell of Vicks, my last resort; whiskey on teething gums.
Mom: Vicks for colds, as well as others suggested by mom and grandma: meat tenderizer on bee stings, alcohol and vinegar for swimmer’s ear,
coke syrup for stomach ache, aloe vera plant for burns.


Great grandma: I used the threat of spanking with a wooden paint paddle.
Grandma: We encouraged our kids to respect our authority and our decisions. Spanking was rare, but was effective as an “attention getter.”
Mom: I use “Time Out” or take away the electronics.