There’s plenty to love about the ‘70s. Big hair was in (helloooo Farrah Fawcett); the Bee Gees were rocking out; and a cheese and pineapple hedgehog was all you needed to turn your party from slightly drab to the height of sophistication.
Unfortunately the ’70s were also the decade that gave us men with their shirts open to the navel, black vinyl car seats, and some shockingly poor parenting. If you still think that restricting access to the iPad is the worst thing a parent can do, take a moment to remind yourself about parenting ’70s style…
- Today, you can’t leave a dog in the car without someone phoning the police about your irresponsible behaviour, but in the ‘70s, leaving your children in the car was the go-to solution for any parent who wanted to do a spot of shopping but didn’t want the hassle of trekking their kids about with them. This wasn’t bad parenting. It was the norm. And by the way, if you remember fighting with your siblings for who sat in the front seat whilst your parents hung out with their mates at the pub, you’re one of the lucky ones. I was an only child, so normally there was just me, the car radio and a luke-warm bottle of pop.
- In the 70s, tanning yourself to a deep shade of mahogany was the height of fashion, and sunbathing until you could fry an egg on your back was the quickest way to get there. It certainly never occurred to any of us, least of all our supposedly responsible parents, that lying in the sun until your skin turned crimson and went slightly crispy might be a bad thing. My mother was ahead of her time in buying factor 4 suntan lotion, but some mums I knew sent their kids out coated in Baby Oil. I blame every wrinkle I have today on my parents’ remiss attitude to sun protection.
- Health and safety was not really a thing in the 70s, which is why people treated it as a genuine infringement of their human rights if you suggested that they might want to wear a seatbelt whilst driving. If you needed to take a bunch of kids somewhere, you just jammed as many of the little blighters in the car as would fit. My husband claims he once travelled home from a party lying across the dashboard. I don’t have any evidence for this, but it would certainly fit with my experience of a squirming mass of children travelling sardine-style in the boot of some helpful mummy’s estate car. I’m genuinely surprised that so many of us made it through the decade without serious harm to life or limb.
All this and I haven’t even touched on some of the lesser offences committed by ‘70s parents. Like dressing their children in shades of brown, as if they wanted us to look like a giant turd. Or the fact that everything we wore was a fire-hazard, because in those days clothes only came in ‘flammable’ and ‘super-flammable’.
Sometimes I worry that I am failing as a parent because my children don’t eat quinoa salad or read Dostoevsky in Russian, but then I remember the ‘70s and, you know what, I’m doing OK.
Thanks to Scarymommy.com for the photo at the top, which comes from a hilarious article on 70s parenting.