When your kids started having kids, the rules of parenting suddenly changed. The children who were spanked if they talked back and spent every Saturday dusting and vacuuming started raising kids who spoke their minds frequently—without consequence—and had way too many activities to actually pitch in on household chores.

How do we explain this sea change in parenting? I am one of those kids, and I have my theories. However, since I’m not a parent myself, mine are just the unsubstantiated ramblings of someone with too much time on their hands, precisely because I have no children to fill it! Here goes …

From time immemorial, everyone grows up disgruntled about something (or everything) their parents did to them as kids. Although it’s often something silly like a midnight curfew or how they couldn’t drive the family car to school, they vow to be a different kind of a parent when they grow up.

When our generation grew up, we remembered our parents as unreasonably rules-based (“because I said so”) and inflexible. So when we had kids of our own, rather than the dictatorship we believed that you led, we wanted our kids to live in a sort of democracy. And even more extreme, we wanted them to “like” us and be our friends. (You are probably shuddering at that thought.)

You also let us hurt ourselves and mess up (a lot) in the greater pursuit of learning that infamous lesson. (Remember?) If we fell off our bikes, you told us to get back on and try again. If we failed a test, you made us tell our friends we couldn’t come out and play/talk on the phone/go to the movies because we had to study our brains out for the next one. And in reaction to what we perceived as harsh parenting, we became overly nurturing, hovering parents. In other words, we’d rather mow the lawn every single week of the summer than let our pre-teen child get close to that whirring blade or do their project for them instead of risk a bad grade.

Every generation thinks they can parent better than the generation before them. However, the truth of the matter is that everyone’s parenting style is colored—a little or a lot—by how they were parented. You had to receive your job training somewhere!

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