When raising kids in the 70s, there was no such thing as a designated “parenting style.” With the advent of the information age came the compulsion to organize that information: to analyze, prescribe, and define each and every inclination we have into categories and pseudo belief systems.
The many and varied methodologies our parents utilized now have names, books, and websites of their own. It all just goes to show: the more things change, the more things stay the same.
Free range parenting
Back in the 70s, most parents were on the “free range” spectrum. We ran out the door after breakfast and our parents had absolutely no idea where we were or what we were doing until lunch. We hopped on bikes with banana seats (and without helmets) and pedaled off to our imagined destinies, exploring the nooks and crannies of our community without a rational adult lording over our every move. Coming home during “Days Of Our Lives” was frowned upon.
As mommy-and-me classes and drop-off play yards were nonexistent, 70s parents just picked you up and dragged you along wherever they had to go. Have a nightmare? Our moms or dads would just roll over and make room in their bed in the interest of peace, quiet, and going back to sleep as fast as humanly possible. An open bed policy didn’t need a name.
Ignore us on the playground? Our parents barely ever came to the playground. But if they did and we messed up in their presence, they spared no words in telling us about ourselves. If we argued with another kid, they left us to our own devices to figure it out, somehow successfully turning a deaf ear to muffled protests and fingernail-on-chalkboard whine tones while they enjoyed adult conversation, unfettered and sans commentaires.
Since parenting was an adventure without blogs to troll or entire publications dedicated to a child’s ways and means, 70s parents trusted they’d know what to do when it came to their children. It was a time when the only how-tos you might hope for would come from your own mother or friends who might dish after a second highball. Their only parenting guru was a guy named Dr. Spock, whose hefty tome focused exclusively on keeping your child alive, solely in the physical sense. Everyday parenting was all instinct, all the time.
Ultimately, our parents were the boss, judge, and jury and this was absolutely non-negotiable. A 70s parent would not waste a nanosecond crouched on the floor in the center aisle of Whole Foods, negotiating with a toddler-turned-dictator. That shit just did not happen. “Do as we say, not as we do,” was an oft-abused adage while 70s parents lit their umpteenth cigarette. Rules were rules, mic dropped, gauntlet thrown. Boom! Cry if you want to.