Times have changed and in a lot of ways, this is for the best. Being pinched on the bum at work and having to laugh it off? Nobody misses that. Except perhaps the lecherous old fools who did the pinching.
But parenting has changed even more than sexual politics and social mores. For one thing, parenting never used to be a verb. Up until the 90s, you just were a parent or you weren’t. It wasn’t something you actively did, let alone bought books about.
And it’s only when you have children of your own and begin comparing generations (“back in my day…” etc) that you realise how many things that were totally acceptable in the past, could now get you into a lot of trouble. Or even arrested.
I, being born in 1975, would say my memories of being a child kick in around 1980. The ’80s were a splendid time, they really were. But they were also pretty loose in many ways.
1. Disciplining your kids
Smacking a child in Australia hasn’t been outlawed as such. But I’ve got to tell you, the “smacking” my brother and I received back in the day certainly wouldn’t be accepted in general society or a court of law today. An actual leather belt was wrapped around the back of our legs. So too the occasional jug cord. A wooden spoon was literally broken over my husband’s arse when he was small. Happily, that’s not okay these days. That’s considered abuse.
BUT … when I was a kid, it was perfectly normal. Admittedly, I only received this kind of discipline when I was monumentally naughty. I didn’t consider myself abused then and I don’t now, because everyone did it and everyone copped it. Now you would probably go to jail for hitting a child with a stick so hard it broke, no matter whether you were a stranger or the child’s parent. And that’s a good thing in my opinion.
2. Smoking in the car
In a lot of states, if you are caught smoking in your own vehicle and there’s a child inside it, you can be fined. ,I for one, am completely onboard with this law. I grew up with a father who rolled his own cigarettes and we were constantly experiencing the excruciating pain of rubbing random bits of loose tobacco into our eyeballs. We inhaled god knows HOW much secondary smoke and, as my father eventually died from lung cancer, I can only imagine how much damage my brother and I inadvertently suffered. Now, thank god, parents aren’t allowed to hotbox their kids like this.
3. Leaving kids alone in the house
As a kid growing up, we were often left alone in the house. Never for long periods of time, but if Mum needed to, say, shoot down to the bank or grab some groceries, everyone, including the law, were totally fine with it. In 2015, even though in a lot of states you can legally leave a child home alone from 12 years of age onwards, the lines around these laws are blurred and in some, there is no line at all. This can make it tough, and its why there have been instances where parents have not only found themselves investigated but also arrested and sentenced for leaving their children unattended.