It seems lately I’ve been reading an endless series of articles and social media posts about how life was so much better for children of the 60s and 70s. How childhood was an endless parade of days where you’d go outside and play for hours. There were no cell phones. People trusted each other. Children had respect. Blah. Blah. Blah.
While I appreciate the sentimentality – as a parent who was a child of the 70s, I know as sure as I know anything that it’s a load of crap. Our children are being raised in a world that’s so much better than we had it when I was growing up.
Here are five reasons I’m glad to be alive and raising my children right now:
- Everyone is not smoking around children every second of the day.
I recently watched old home movies transferred to DVD from my 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays. So many adults were smoking and singing happy birthday, they might as well have just stuck one in my mouth and gotten it over with. This doesn’t happen today.
- Parents are now routinely exposing their children to exercise and physical activity.
My wife and I did a 5k with our children recently. It was a run/walk to promote wellness and benefit one of Assurance’s charity partners, Clearbrook. This was probably the 10th such event they’ve participated in with us over the past five years. That doesn’t count all the zillion other times they’ve seen us go off to exercise or do a race of our own. We’re modeling behavior our parents never did, and I believe it will make living a healthier lifestyle easier for them when they grow up.
- Grandparents and relatives from far and wide can be a greater part of a child’s life through Skype and social media.
For all the complaints about technology, this is a major trump card. My in-laws who live in Florida see and talk to my children every weekend thanks to the power of Skype. My brother-in-law and his family who’ve been living in Tokyo, Japan for the past few years, have been able to stay in regular contact with us through voice, video and picture thanks to Skype, Facetime and Facebook. Absolutely remarkable.
- The wonders of the world are available online and on demand at a moment’s notice.
I know, there’s also a lot of porn and hate online. But with the answer to pretty much every question ever thought of at your fingertips, incredible video close ups of the Great Pyramids and access to every song ever performed, how can you complain?
- Advances in medicine can offer sick children a real shot at a future.
For me, this above all else is really our greatest advancement. Hope. So many diseases that were absolute death sentences for children when I was younger can now be treated, if not cured. At a minimum, lives can be extended and comfort can be created like never before. While we certainly don’t have all the answers where sick children are concerned, we’ve made substantial progress and the information sharing made possible thanks to the Internet has dramatically aided in these efforts. While I pray to God this never happens, I’d much rather discover my child has cancer in 2014 than in 1971.
It’s true, my generation’s youth had a certain innocence that it seems we are long past with the youth of today. But perhaps innocence also meant a certain degree of ignorance? In Badlands, Bruce Springsteen declares “that it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive,” and he’s absolutely right (as usual).
The things we’ve learned about wellness, technology and medicine over these past 30 years have made this a far better world for our children. As a parent, it’s my job to help them carve out their place in life and make the most of it. And if my kids sometimes spend a bit too much time watching TV on the iPad for my liking, I also have to remember I myself know every single episode of The Brady Bunch, line by line, pretty much by heart. And that didn’t happen because I only watched those shows once or twice.
This post has been adopted from an original article on Assurance's internal blog. Found on our companywide intranet, this blog acts as a platform for senior management to share their thoughts with the entire organization. The post has since been modified to share externally.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR