Parenting Standards Then and Now

By Louise

Parenting Standards  have been a recent topic of discussion with both my mother and MIL. Both remarked about being one of five siblings and parents not having time or resources to care for each one individually. The kids had food, clothing, shelter and in my mother’s case all her siblings went to high school and a couple completed college. In my MILs case, I think only one completed college later in life.
There were some things that siblings did that are now exclusively parental duties – taking younger siblings to the doctor or attending parent teacher conferences.
What do you think of parenting standards and expectations today ? Are they too onerous? What are some things you would like changed ? What do you think of the past ? Any learnings from there ?

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85 thoughts on “Parenting Standards Then and Now

  1. There were some things that siblings did that are now exclusively parental duties – taking younger siblings to the doctor or attending parent teacher conferences.

    That reminds me of the Duggars where to a large extent the younger children were parented by an assigned older sibling. I assume that was very common in the era of large families.

  2. Four children didn’t used to be considered a large family, but I consider it a large family now. One of the differences between now and then is that more families are dual income and more people live far from extended family that could help with childcare.

    An example of something time-consuming that my Dad said people didn’t used to do is brushing toddlers’ teeth. It’s hard to know if that was specific to my family, but he commented, “We gave you a toothbrush, but you were probably school age before you could competently use it.”

  3. On topic:

    There seems to be a significant class aspect to the hyper-parenting. I get the sense that class based parenting styles used to be more similar.

  4. I, too, have recently been having conversations with other parents about this topic.

    We expect parents to be much more hands on – here is a short list of what we talked about that ranges from “frowned upon” to likely to get you reported to CPS:
    *putting your child in a playpen/pack-n-play other than to sleep
    *allowing your child to play in your fenced backyard unsupervised until early elementary
    *allowing your child to “roam” (within a reasonable distance) on foot or on a bike unaccompanied until middle school

    Other expectations:
    *attend every single event your child performs/plays in – even if there are 3 showings of the same play in 2 days.
    *intense monitoring of your child’s activities from school (homework) to extra curriculars to online activity
    *keeping them happy has more importance than teaching them skills or life lessons if those reduce happiness

  5. I can’t imagine how much money you’d have to pay me to get me to work as a nanny for those families. Maybe Jeff Bezos could afford me. Maybe.

  6. ” One of the differences between now and then is that more families are dual income and more people live far from extended family that could help with childcare.”

    Maybe it is more than it used to be (although this article hints otherwise), but the vast majority of people still live close to their parents (or mothers at least).

    I do think that there is perhaps a big class divide though. It is a small group that really fall into the Totebag/Helicopter Parent/Hyper-Parenting crowd. Having gone from growing up solidly, truly middle-class (middle quintile) to being in a more Totebag demographic, it is really hard for me to see what is a different “time” and what is class-based.

  7. Here are my thoughts:

    *putting your child in a playpen/pack-n-play other than to sleep

    I think most people do this at least a little bit, they just feel guilty about it.

    *allowing your child to play in your fenced backyard unsupervised until early elementary
    *allowing your child to “roam” (within a reasonable distance) on foot or on a bike unaccompanied until middle school

    These are things that my UMC suburban friends do – if they live in a neighborhood where this is the norm & they know the other families. Urban norms are different.

    Other expectations:
    *attend every single event your child performs/plays in – even if there are 3 showings of the same play in 2 days.

    Haven’t really experienced this – although we very often only have one parent attend things even though we have an only. I do NOT attend every little league game. DH is a coach, and his presence is enough for routine games. We both attend the big things – annual guitar recital (there is only one), last day of school celebration/awards, LL championship game, etc.

    *intense monitoring of your child’s activities from school (homework) to extra curriculars to online activity

    Depends what you mean by “intense”.

    *keeping them happy has more importance than teaching them skills or life lessons if those reduce happiness

    HAHA – NO.

  8. I grew up under age 15 far from grandparents (6 hour drive/2 plane rides); our kids are closer comparatively (3 hr/4 hr drive), but it is still way too far for regular childcare help. BUT my parents are moving closer after the holidays!

    Things I do now that I feel like I shouldn’t need to:
    – write a note for my 11-year-old that she can get off at a different bus stop than usual
    – write a special note to all 3 teachers that an adult doesn’t have to wait at the end of the driveway, morning and afternoon, for them to get off the bus and walk down the driveway to the house
    – walk my 8-yo to school (at our old house)

    Things I don’t do, but feel cultural pressure that I should:
    – volunteer in classrooms and generally be ‘present’ more at school (this is more true here than in our old town, more single-income families)
    – more homemade stuff in the lunchboxes
    – help more with homework

    Also, the scheduling struggle with 3 kids is REAL. Thank goodness we have a nanny and my job is relatively flexible so we have 2 adults to be doing dropoffs/pickups at the activities during the week!

  9. This may come under the category of “Things I do now that I feel like I shouldn’t need to”. The schools require a lot more parental involvement than they did back in my day. (But I agree some of this is class based.)

  10. To add to AustinMom’s list, I’m expected to always be at every practice. At gymnastics the gym specifically mentions that a parent or guardian needs to be present in the event that an injury or illness occurs. I’ve broken this “rule” several times.

    We don’t have a fenced yard and I’ve let the kids out there to fend for themselves since they were very young. They are still alive and well. Also, I let my 6 year old walk two blocks alone to her friends house. The friend’s mom texted me to ask if I knew she was coming alone.

  11. Like L said, I did feel the pressure to volunteer at school and generally be hovering around the school. I wondered to myself that if one spent so much time at the school, might as well save the private school money and home school.
    The emphasis on after school activities, means someone has to do the driving. I rarely speak of daycare now, but I could sense being judged. My mother worked but she outsourced child care way more than I did.

  12. At gymnastics the gym specifically mentions that a parent or guardian needs to be present in the event that an injury or illness occurs.

    That’s outrageous.

  13. – write a special note to all 3 teachers that an adult doesn’t have to wait at the end of the driveway, morning and afternoon, for them to get off the bus and walk down the driveway to the house

    In the school’s defense it is quite a ways from the gatehouse to the front door.

  14. I think that a lot of parents during my parents youth (birth year s1923 and 1927) and my generation – baby boomers had a lot of eyes and family help. You couldn’t be outside without everyone knowing where you are and what you were doing. My mother’s paternal grandparents lived with them and there were aunts, uncles,cousins in walking distance or trolley ride. My mother’s sister was accepted by the NYC Rockettes but was unable to go because her grandmother could not go with her. My aunt danced in philly nightclubs and her grandmother met her 2:00 am trolley every night. My father was the eldest of six. His neighborhood was similar to my mom’s. His grandparents lived around the corner (he basically lived with them as the adored grandson), aunts, uncles and cousins. To the end he could name every family on his block which was 50 homes.

    My parents moved to the suburbs when I was 5. My maternal grandparents lived with us, my aunt and uncle lived next door. Everyone knew each other with a few exceptions and felt free to correct your behavior.

    I was 21 when I got a prescription for birth control pills. I went to a different pharmacy two towns over to fill the prescription. In that day the pharmacist would have told my parents.

    In a lot of ways I think certain aspects of raising children was easier while perhaps some people might think parents were letting their children run wild when the opposite was true. I guess it does take a village.

  15. My mom was 5 miles away when she was living independently. Let me just say that while that doesn’t seem far, it is not the same as living walking distance – same block or a street or two over – where you can call and say “Mom – Jr. is headed over.” followed by sending 4 year old Jr. out the door. More than a mile generally requires someone to drive the child, at least until they are early to middle elementary and even then 5 miles through neighborhood streets is a 10-15 minute commute (at least here with tons of 4 way stops).

  16. When did kids take their siblings to doctors appointment or go to parent teacher conferences??? Are you talking about adult siblings perhaps? I certainly was expected to take a lot of responsibility for my younger siblings, but I never did tasks like those, and I never heard of anyone else doing so.

  17. I certainly was expected to take a lot of responsibility for my younger siblings, but I never did tasks like those, and I never heard of anyone else doing so.

    I haven’t heard of parent teacher conferences but once you could drive dropping siblings off at the doctor or dentist was fairly common.

  18. My parents expected me to do a lot of babysitting of my siblings starting when I was 10. I also had to cart them around town by bus so they could get to various lessons and activities. It was too much responsibility too young. I couldn’t really control my sibs, especially my brother, and I was petrified that something awful would happen. I vowed to never do that to my kids. I do leave the older in charge now, but not until he was around 15 or so, and we stay connected via cellphone. And I don’t do it all the frickin’ time like my parents did.

  19. Mooshi – in the home country. I went to my brother’s parent teacher conferences when I was in the 12th grade myself. My parents took their siblings to the doctor when they themselves were in high school.

  20. Oh, you are talking about almost-adult siblings. I still can’t imagine it because the doctors we saw as kids always wanted to talk to the parents. I did bike to the orthodontist, but my kids do the same (actually they walk).

  21. My college boyfriend sometimes had to go to his brother’s doctors appointment but that was only so he could translate for his mother, who was also present.

  22. It’s definitely an advantage of my kids being teens now; they don’t stand out as semi-feral so much for roaming the neighborhood, being expected to be responsible for keeping track of their own homework / grades, etc.

  23. There was a big kerfuffle on our town parents mailing list this morning because evidently there was a schoolbus mess on Friday. It was a halfday, but there had been almost no publicity, and evidently a lot of parents did not realize it was a halfday and did not show up at the bus stop to pick up kids. One woman posted that when she went to meet her kids schoolbus, it was full of sobbing students who had not been allowed to get off the bus at their homes, and were told they would be carted to the bus company headquarters. The woman begged to let off some of the kids who were neighbors, but the bus driver would not hear of it. She was outraged.

  24. I still can’t imagine it because the doctors we saw as kids always wanted to talk to the parents.

    If it was just a typical sports physical/regular physical for a healthy kid what would they even talk about? Obviously is you had a health problem that’s totally different.

  25. I took my little brother to the doctor & dentist. But I also went to those appointments by myself when I was in middle school and beyond. I wonder if some of that is small town life too because I would ride my bike 1/2 mile to the clinic, and there were no busy streets involved. If there was an issue where they needed to call my parents, they certainly knew them & would have no trouble doing so. Parent teacher conferences? Absolutely not. But my parents took turns going to those – they didn’t both go every year, twice a year.

    I think my experience is different in some of these areas because of the demographics.

    Our school is full of dual-income families, so daytime volunteering & hovering over homework has never been a big push. Because of the push for responsibility and independence in Montessori, we are not really even allowed to bring our kids to their lockers, even in preschool (3-6). I do sign off on his work plan & look through his papers when he brings them home. But the only homework that has significant parental involvement is the dreaded Science Fair (which I absolutely HATE.)

    In extracurriculars, we are usually with a pretty wide range of socioeconomic and cultural groups, so the norms of Totebag suburbs are not there.

  26. “If it was just a typical sports physical/regular physical for a healthy kid what would they even talk about? Obviously is you had a health problem that’s totally different.”

    Yes this. But also getting standard cavity fillings, getting a wart removed, getting ears checked after antibiotics or things like that. Run of the mill stuff, not emergency or visits when really ill. Also, when I got older my doctor specifically wanted to talk to us without our parents. DS’s pediatrician starts that at 13.

  27. We didn’t really go to doctors unless sick, so maybe that is the difference. I wasn’t in a school that required a physical until my Seattle school. My brother did sports, but I don’t recall he had to do physicals for them. There was also the issue that you had to drive to these things. I recall having a wart removed when I was 8 – the doctor was 10 miles away so my father took me.

  28. I also had to cart them around town by bus so they could get to various lessons and activities.

    Oh yeah, my sister was stuck doing this for me a couple of times. I forgot all about it til just now. I bet Sis hasn’t forgotten. OTOH, Sis was rarely required to babysit me, and when she did, she got paid.

  29. From Ivy’s link:

    Those with college and professional degrees are much more likely to live farther from their parents than those with a high school education, in part because they have more job opportunities in big cities, and especially if spouses are juggling the career aspirations of two professionals.

  30. *attend every single event your child performs/plays in – even if there are 3 showings of the same play in 2 days.

    I don’t know about going to every showing of the same play, but my parents and all my firends’ parents went to every little league game and such. That’s not a new thing, at least based on my experience in a MC-UMC suburb.

    I went to all of my kids’ events. I love watching my kids in their activities.

  31. I go to all the kids’ games etc. unless I have a rehearsal – DH never goes. Our nanny takes them to practice (and games if needed, although now all the games are on the weekend) if we are working.

  32. Well, I should qualify that with he went to the one time events: #1’s play (one night, not all 3) and the skating and dance shows, but he never goes to soccer games and he didn’t go to the kids’ recitals last year. I’m not sure if the kids get upset or not – I try to ask him to go to one soccer game per season but it’s not happening this fall.

  33. Sis was rarely required to babysit me, and when she did, she got paid.

    At one point my parents were paying me $.50/hr to babysit (about half the then-going rate) and each of my siblings $.25/hr to be good.

  34. At one point my parents were paying me $.50/hr to babysit (about half the then-going rate)

    You were babysitting in the 19th century?

  35. I went to a parenting thing last week and the speaker said that helicopter parents have morphed into lawnmower parents. He said that parents don’t stop when their kids graduate HS. They contact college professors and deans about grades. They contact managers about raises and promotions. It seems to be a never ending cycle of involved parenting.

    I have really tried to stay out of DD’s social life since she started high school, but I keep getting dragged back in by my own friends. They constantly talk about the kid parties, teachers and sports.

    We didn’t go to all of her games this year. She played a fall JV sport and we probably made it to about 1/2 of the events. I went to one away game because it was in a neighboring town. We strive for a combination of modern parenting combined with old fashioned parenting. We are friendly with DD, but we try to make it clear that we are her parents and it is our job to teach/coach her about life. Some of my friends try to be best friends with their kids and I just don’t like that style of parenting. They are hyper involved with the parents of some of their kid’s friends and the parent friendships tend to blow up when the kid friendships end.

    I am surprised and disappointed about how many freshmen are already drinking, vaping and using pot. The amount of pot that is being consumed in all forms by kids in my HS is surprising to me. Dabs, chewables, and vape pens are common for some of the kids. I am also learning that kids are using pod mods all of the time for vaping nicotine and pot. I knew that this was a part of HS life, but I didn’t expect it to immediately start full blast during freshman year.

    I wish that some of my local friends would be more like the parents of the past. IMHO, some of my friends are so involved in their kids lives that they are forgetting to be a parent instead of a friend. It is fascinating to me that the same friends that were limiting cell phone use, fort nite, electronics etc. etc in June (8th grade) are suddenly letting their kids do whatever they want on Friday and Sat nights.

  36. Rhett, in the 1970s, $.50 per hour was usual and $.75 was a good deal. Minimum wage was $2.10, but it’s not like child care was important. Besides, we were all girls. You don’t have to pay girls.

  37. “Minimum wage was $2.10”

    It was $1.60/hour when I got my first PT job (not counting delivering newspapers).

  38. At my university, there have been a couple big events for students. One involved all night activities prepping for homework. In my day, that was (obviously) accompanied by beer. Now, my friends are driving 90 minutes to make pancakes for the 18-22 year olds from 10pm – middle of the night. There is not a chance in the world that my mom would have done that, or that I would have wanted that. A big song and dance show is coming up at the same school, and I’ve seen Facebook posts that some parents have bought tickets for every showing, again 90 minute – 2 hr drive. It’s definitely a different world.

  39. On doctor appointments, I tried to start having DD drive herself as soon as she was 16. The doctors office was somewhat reluctant, and faxed me forms to sign to allow her to be seen without me there. It was even more difficult when DS hit that age. And these were routine things like ear infections.

    A colleague’s wife worked at Stanford and was dumbfounded by how many parents called, and how solicitous the school was. And a friend recently told me of retracting an offer when a young female graduate of a highly respected school asked if she could just have her dad call him to talk about the salary and benefits, telling her it seemed that she was not a good fit after all.

  40. how solicitous the school was

    For $50K per year they’d better kiss parental ass.

  41. Lauren said “I wish that some of my local friends would be more like the parents of the past. IMHO, some of my friends are so involved in their kids lives that they are forgetting to be a parent instead of a friend.”
    But if these parents are so involved, how is it that they don’t know that their kids are into all this crap? It seems to me that it is the uninvolved parents who have no clue. One of my DS’s friends has parents that are proudly free range parents – except now my DS tells me that the friend is getting into all sorts of bad things and his parents have no idea.
    I am with you that parents should not be friends – they should be parents. But they should be involved parents so they know what is going on in their kids’ lives

  42. “They contact college professors and deans about grades. ”
    I honestly don’t see a lot of this, certainly no more than back in the early part of my career. My students generally could use a lot more parental helicoptering, not less.

  43. I follow the FB page for parents at my DD#1s college. I would classify about 1/3 of the posts as helpful (questions about how things work or has your child experienced this to need a recommendation for a specialist/mechanic/places to visit from restaurant recommendations to parks), 1/3 are marketing/sales/reassurance the right school was picked (from go to this or that event to look the school is cool, and 1/3 are helicopter/lawnmower posts (appalled that not ALL the dorms have AC or their kid can’t find “suitable” food, to looking for study buddies for their student).

    I try to just focus on the helpful ones and scroll through the rest.

  44. I am with DD. We go to all of our kids’ events. I enjoy watching them play sports. Chess tournaments I’m less excited about. Piano was the worst. But in this regard I’m not parenting differently than my parents. They came to everything.

    I don’t monitor homework and am too lazy to check online to see how they are doing. So far we haven’t needed to and I hope it continues to be the case that I don’t need to.

    I don’t volunteer at school and don’t feel guilty about that after my one volunteer experience.

    I don’t monitor what they eat. My main food guidance at dinner is to at least try everything and to stop eating when they are full.

    I’m helicopter parenting in some ways but not in everything.

  45. It is fascinating to me that the same friends that were limiting cell phone use, fort nite, electronics etc. etc in June (8th grade) are suddenly letting their kids do whatever they want on Friday and Sat nights.

    I’m equally fascinated by how being popular/fitting in has always ranked so low on the scale of totebag concerns and how that differs from the “real world.” I assume from what Lauren mentioned that some of the parental (ok maternal) involvement revolves around teenage gossip and who’s up and who’s down and who is dating who etc.

  46. Edit – how to find their tribe has been discussed but fighting their way to the top of the social heap has never been talked about at all.

  47. Re one parent sticking around for practices as well as games. Few of my kids’ coaches ever required parents to stick around for practices or for games; when I was the head coach, I never did (until the inevitable parent abused the privilege and made me wait after practice for more than once for more than 10 mins, then I required one of them/nanny/older driving sib to stay for all practices and games or their kid had to go home with them vs staying for the event. Harsh, perhaps, but it worked and I usually relented after a couple of weeks).

    I think our kids had close to 100% 1-parent coverage at their games. Sometimes we both went, but with 3 kids that was generally impossible. I usually hung around for hockey practice since (1) there was almost always a bar at the rinks (2) I love hockey, even practice is interesting (3) I could quietly read for an hour.

    I am glad I was at DS3’s football game freshman year when he broke his leg. DW was out of town and it really was a serious break. He was great about things, but also glad I was there just to explain to him what was going on. Other than that none of my kids ever got seriously hurt thru 1000’s of hockey, baseball, football games and practices age 6-HS graduation.

  48. I assume from what Lauren mentioned that some of the parental (ok maternal) involvement revolves around teenage gossip and who’s up and who’s down and who is dating who etc.

    This exactly. My DD mentions her friends’ mothers who used to be close and helping each out during the elementary school days. Now because their daughters – two sets of girls older and younger who don’t want to continue their childhood friendships, there is much drama and the mothers are not speaking to each other. There is enough drama to make a soap opera, lots of twists and turns.
    Kids as they grow make their own choice of friends and the subgroup of kids they want to be with. This is partly based on which classes they have with who, as they may not get to see people they were close with at one point in time.

  49. Rhett, exactly. I don’t have a Totebag kid. She is in on the calculus track, but she is on the fringes of the popular group so she won’t join certain clubs or activities. She is smart enough to know that she is probably in the bottom 1/3 of her honors math/bio crew. She is friends with all fo the smart kids, but many of them are not attending the parties that she is going to on the weekends.

    We let her go to the party on Friday night that was held in the home of a family that we knew and it was only freshmen. We said no to a party on Sat night after the football game that was an open invite to the school and the police and ambulance made it to that party. Most of my friends said their kids could to that party. When they had to pick up their kids after the police came – they were not surprised that some of the kids were drunk. or high. Contrary to Mooshi’s comment, these parents know what is going on at these parties. They know what their kids are doing at these parties and they are still allowing their kids to attend these parties.

    I am not naive and I know that my kid will eventually drink. I am just trying to delay it as long as possible. I also want her to learn how to handle herself at these parties. That is easier at a party of all of freshman vs. some free for all after a football game.

  50. ‘I’m equally fascinated by how being popular/fitting in has always ranked so low on the scale of totebag concerns and how that differs from the “real world.”’

    Part of the explanation may be that totebag parents are dealing with the kid they have, not the typical “real world” kid. If your kid is a Sheldon Cooper it may be fruitless and even harmful to try to make him fit in with popular kids. There’s only so much that a parent can do to move the needle.

    “But they should be involved parents so they know what is going on in their kids’ lives”

    All I can say is parenting a teenager can be really hard. Just to play off Lauren’s anecdote, how does a parent truly know which party is a relatively safe one where some of the kids will smoke pot and sneak alcohol outside, and which party will require police and ambulances to save kids from serious injury? Maybe for some of you it’s clear, but even if you try to get to know their friends and other parents, there are many situations where that is just logistically impossible. Yes, a parent can be involved but a teen can be an expert at deception. Add in willfulness and other factors and it becomes more difficult to keep a kid on the straight and narrow. Yes, some parents seem to give up but it’s not always clear what’s going on with that family. (OTOH, I do question those parents who did keg stands or worse at their teenage kids’ parties!)

  51. she is on the fringes of the popular group so she won’t join certain clubs or activities.

    A sizeable percentage of parents would be as concerned about that as the typical totebager would be by a kid who just missed the cut for the calculus track. I think that goes along way toward explains why these parents knowingly allow these kids to go to the party.

  52. July said ” If your kid is a Sheldon Cooper it may be fruitless and even harmful to try to make him fit in with popular kids. There’s only so much that a parent can do to move the needle.”

    I have a Sheldon, and I completely agree. At the same time, I think it is actually easier to parent a Sheldon. My third kid is more normal, and I also worry a lot about what you go on to say

    “how does a parent truly know which party is a relatively safe one where some of the kids will smoke pot and sneak alcohol outside, and which party will require police and ambulances to save kids from serious injury? ”
    Especially if you have a kid who is essential nice and decent but who has no impulse control. All I can do is try to keep her busy in activities with decent kids so she has no time for parties :-)

  53. At the same time, I think it is actually easier to parent a Sheldon.

    If you have Sheldon like tendencies yourself, sure.

  54. “If you have Sheldon like tendencies yourself, sure.”

    That’s a good point. And as the parent of both a biological child and an adopted child, it’s clear to me which one has been easier to parent.

  55. I was a very good student but I did go off track in college. It wasn’t serious to damage any long term prospects because I managed to keep on track. Instead of getting As, it was Bs and Cs. This was mostly because I liked going to clubs with my friends and though I didn’t drink much, I stayed out late and came home smelling of smoke. My mother, the strict parent had departed for a job in another city. I ran the house (a big responsibility). With the going out, running the house and a part time job, the grades suffered. I also realized that the standard in non quantitative subjects was high at all, I could do minimal work and pass.

  56. “If you have Sheldon like tendencies yourself, sure.”

    Do you really think so? What makes a Sheldon so easy is that a kid like that tends to not get involved in dangerous situations. If you are the kind of parent who really cares that your kids are popular, you might feel out of sync with a Sheldon, but you don’t have to worry about drunk driving accidents or overdoses. When you have a kid who is both a social butterfly and who also has poor impulse control, the worrying is a lot more elemental.

  57. “If you have Sheldon like tendencies yourself”.

    Yes. My brilliant ex-boyfriend, now an astronomer, had a family that worshipped his younger brother, the football player. Mooshi obviously loves her son, but beyond that, she loves and deeply values the stuff that he’s good at, and feels tremendous pride at his good test scores and math abilities. Ex-boyfriend’s parents just thought he was a boring geek.

  58. If your kid is a Sheldon Cooper it may be fruitless and even harmful to try to make him fit in with popular kids. There’s only so much that a parent can do to move the needle.

    But you can do a lot to move the needle. How far it can be moved is debatable. I don’t think you can turn Sheldon in Mr. Popularity, but you can probably get him to the point where he has friends and doesn’t get picked on as much.

    I was a Sheldon and I wish someone would have done something to try to help me fit in better. If I was growing up today, I would be diagnosed with Asperger’s or on the autism spectrum, but there wasn’t that awareness 35 years ago obviously.

    Re one parent sticking around for practices as well as games.

    For us, the issue was the travel time. When I was a kid, all of my activities were in our small suburb and I could walk or ride my bike if needed. For our kids, nothing was close enough they could go to on their own, and often a 30 minute drive. So it made much more sense to stay.

    As a coach, I don’t care if parents stay or not. There were usually 3 or 4 who stuck around during our softball practices this season, and I’m sure it was mostly due to their commute.

  59. But you can do a lot to move the needle. How far it can be moved is debatable.

    Aspergers puts you in the bottom quintile at least. But you could probably move it 10 or 20 points with the right interventions and support. And, I would argue, you can also move someone who is at the 70th percentile 10 or 20 points. For boys at least, popularity has a large sports component and you’re not going to be playing varsity if your parents haven’t been on board with taking you to hockey, or lacrosse or pee wee football or whatever when you were 8.

  60. Mooshi – your DD may just have a big personality. My niece is very outspoken, makes friends everywhere she goes and loves dazzle and sparkle. Some of her teachers don’t like her telling them exactly what she thinks and neither do her grandparents. But that’s just her.

  61. I had a mom that cared about popularity and I was allowed to go to parties where there was drinking, after I had obviously been drinking at other parties at 16-17. If I drank and drive, I lost driving privileges for months (which was huge to me), but I was still allowed to go to parties the next weekend. I don’t think I attended a single party in high school where there were parents present. The one exception apparently is my friend who told me very recently that she hade her parents and four younger brothers stay locked in the patents’ befroom for the entire night so they wouldn’t embarrass her, and they did.

    My mom would have worried more about me being home on a weekend night than she did about drinking. And thus my sister’s spot on homecoming court a couple of years generated more pride than my NMS. And I hope this doesn’t come off sounding resentful- I am not and am very close to my mom. She wanted the best for us, and being a woman who wasn’t allowed to go to college, she thought having friends and being included in things was very important, more so than academics. And she knew she didn’t have to worry about my academics.

  62. Louise, she does have a big personality. That is the positive side of her, and it doesn’t worry me at all. Impulse control has been her dark side since the beginning. She does things on occasion that are dangerous or really bad in some way – like taking things from her brothers drawers and hiding them, or ruining things – and she knows these things are wrong. She can recite a hundred reasons why they are wrong, but she says that when she wants something, she just can’t stop. We are now a gum-free house because she always threw her used gum on the floor – even when a trash can is nearby – and after several parts of the wood floors were ruined with congealed stuck gum, and I found a pile of ancient congealed gum behind MY bed – I just banned the stuff. Yes, she knows it is wrong to ruin the floors, and she knows how to dispose of gum, but she can’t do it in the heat of the moment.

  63. This seems obvious, but all of this is a balance. When DS was younger, I worried much more about his social skills/friendships than his academics. Our parent-teacher conferences were really focused on social development because the academics were fine. He’s come into his own there over the years, and I worry less about that now. Is that because we’ve helped him build social skills and focused on that part too? We certainly don’t micromanage his friendships though.

    I don’t really care if he is “popular” now or in HS, but I do want him to be able to make friends and get along with lots of different types of people. I don’t want him to be the type of person that alienates people before they even give him a chance. I do want him to have an enjoyable HS and college experience that is not all about academics. I also want him to do well academically. There is a huge range between Prom King and Sheldon. Sheesh. Plus, in lots of places the Prom King types are overachievers in many areas – sports, academics and socially.

    I just read about you guys with your older kids, and I try to learn. I am not really looking forward to having to find the right balance between independence/trust and helping them to stay out of trouble. It seems incredibly hard.

  64. I don’t really care if he is “popular” now or in HS, but I do want him to be able to make friends and get along with lots of different types of people. I don’t want him to be the type of person that alienates people before they even give him a chance. I do want him to have an enjoyable HS and college experience that is not all about academics. I also want him to do well academically. There is a huge range between Prom King and Sheldon.

    Very well said Ivy. My kids aren’t the most popular, but they have plenty of friends and seem to fit in well. As I’ve said before, they are happy at their school, which makes it worth putting up with the academic shortcomings.

  65. I am raising a child who attends private school. One of the biggest surprises to me is how friendly the parents become. It is very cliquey. Didn’t people have friends before their children attended school? It seems weird to me, like socializing outside of school is one big family playdate. I don’t remember this from my childhood at all. My husband and I feel like we sometimes neglect long friendships we have had for a long time because we get busy. Maybe we should be making more of an effort to be friendlier to school families for the sake of our kid? I dunno, I’d rather just make time for the good friends we already have.

  66. Cubs Fan, I actually see something similar at my kids public school. But I have met some pretty cool friends this way!

  67. The parents are generally nice people, but it feels a little exclusionary. I might be more sensitive to this since I was never really part of any clique and never really had a lot of close friends as a kid. It feels like elementary school all over again. My husband isn’t bothered by it, but he’s gregarious and always had a lot of friends. Fortunately, my kid is more social than I ever was and so far she seems to like her school and has made a few school friends. I also honestly like our weekends to be more family focused. I’m sure that will change soon enough once the teen years arrive.

  68. Mooshi – your DD may just have a big personality. My niece is very outspoken, makes friends everywhere she goes and loves dazzle and sparkle. Some of her teachers don’t like her telling them exactly what she thinks and neither do her grandparents. But that’s just her.

    Mooshi, I have a DD with a big personality. For years, DH and I were concerned that without a positive focus for her energy, ambition and smarts (coupled with below average impulse control) she would not use her powers for good. She eventually found a group that resonated with her and where her talents were valued, and skipped a grade because, for her, idle hands were the devil’s playground.

    DD is AWESOME. Fun, bright, witty, going a mile a minute. She has friends everywhere around the country. DH and I deserve a parenting medal for not strangling her at times. A big personality needs a big space and a big project/ambition/challenge to expand into. Good luck.

  69. I missed this topic yesterday. I have been to almost all of the kids games, competitions, shows, etc. DH has been to all the in town events, and most of the out of town. Of course, with three kids and two parents, it was impossible for kids to have two parent coverage all the time, and DH’s work schedule didn’t always allow him the flexibility to attend.

    I enjoy(ed) going to events. Now that DS is playing football, I particularly enjoy going to the parties after the home games. It is fairly common around here for parties to be for the whole family and potluck style. Oftentimes, the adults will be in one area, the kids elsewhere. There is, of course, concern about drinking and driving, and also drinking and sex. Poor DS just got a conversation with both parents about the realities of being a relatively wealthy, nice kid in an economically diverse town.

  70. “I need to find that big space for her.”

    This may not surprise anyone here, but besides a big space, I think you, like Cass, also need to steer her to a good peer group. IMO, peer group is particularly important to someone with poor impulse control.

  71. “they are happy at their school, which makes it worth putting up with the academic shortcomings.”

    Substitute tuition cost for academic shortcomings, and that’s how I feel about my kids’ school.

  72. ‘I’m equally fascinated by how being popular/fitting in has always ranked so low on the scale of totebag concerns and how that differs from the “real world.”’

    I don’t think fitting in has ranked low among totebaggers, and I definitely didn’t rank it low.

    “Part of the explanation may be that totebag parents are dealing with the kid they have, not the typical “real world” kid. If your kid is a Sheldon Cooper it may be fruitless and even harmful to try to make him fit in with popular kids. There’s only so much that a parent can do to move the needle.”

    In my case, the concern for my kids fitting in was manifested in attempts to find peer groups into which our kids would fit in. Like July, we tried more to deal with the kids we have, and find situations into which they would fit well, as opposed to trying to get them to fit into situations that weren’t well-suited for them.

  73. “If your kid is a Sheldon Cooper it may be fruitless and even harmful to try to make him fit in with popular kids. There’s only so much that a parent can do to move the needle.”

    ITA, and Sheldon is someone who would probably have benefited greatly from having a peer group while growing up.

    It seems that many of our kids have a lot in common and would get along well with each other, and we have at least one datum consistent with that.

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