Things are different in my day and age than in my mum's day and age, and I am sure most mums can say the same thing! Sometimes, you may find yourself as a mother disagreeing with a family member from the older generation on a variety of things all encompassed in the world of parenting today, and it's simply because your family member is used to one way of parenting just as you will be one day if and when your children have kids. Our ways of parenting are attached to many loving memories of our children and how we view our children's success, and so that family member from the older generation may feel the same. He or she may feel pride about how he or she raised the little ones and how the kids turned out, and so how you do things as a parent may seem odd in that person's eyes, whereas what that person did with his/her kids is completely valid according to Grandma, Uncle Bob, or whoever. Here are a few things that my generation of moms does that my mom's generation didn't do — or didn't do as much:
My mum breastfed me and my three sisters, but in her day it was still fairly uncommon. According to the CDC, 79 percent breastfeed at birth and 49.4 percent continue to breastfeed at six months.
At 4 years old, I didn't go to activities or play places. I went to preschool part time, and the rest of the time, I played at home and outside. I didn't do my first major after-school curricular activity until I was 9. At 4 years old, my daughter has been in dance for three years now! Times have changed.
Rock the Mums' Clubs
Sure, our mothers had neighborhood parents and friends and maybe the PTO, but they weren't involved in as many moms' clubs as we are today. In many ways, our mothers' families did what our mums' groups do today: support and help guide mothers. For us, we have had to make "villages" rather differently, and most of the time, our support is virtual rather than in person.
Our parents used their parents to watch us.
Yet many of our parents? They're still working since retiring in this country is difficult.
My mum used my sisters or my dad to watch me, and when the need to watch me outgrew the family, I had a neighborhood babysitter. Those, of course, still exist, but many of us are set to find preschools and day cares to care for our kids. School vacations and Summers are tricky. The level of need for care is much higher than our mums' needs were.
This article is not meant to start a war, but more than ever, parents and mums question doctors. For example, vaccines. We all know the controversy there. But the topics don't end with simply shots. We can extend it to so many topics such as feeding or discipline. This isn't to say that our mothers didn't tell the doctor, "I don't agree with you," but that it's more common today for mums to seek second opinions or educate themselves first simply because the Internet makes it so easy for us to get information (whether it's good information or not) within seconds, unlike our parents who had to head to the library for intense researching.
Girls' Night Out
Ask your mum how often she had a "mums' night out" or a "girls' night out." Probably not as many as you may have — even if you rarely go out. This is a plus! We are more apt as mums to acknowledge our needs as individuals, which makes us happier and healthier mummies.
This is a negative in my opinion. Teachers are less valued than in our parents' day. This isn't to say that all teachers are created equal, but that it's more common for a parent to wonder if the teacher is accurate or "a good teacher" than in the past. "Not my kid" was heard a lot less than it is today, and as a former teacher, I heard that phrase frequently.
Seek Out Help
When their children had developmental issues or behavioural problems or as mums they had their own personal issues, they were less inclined to seek help or they had fewer resources at their fingertips. We have to admit, we have professionals who didn't exist or weren't as prevalent back then like the numerous therapists — occupational, physical, speech, behaviour analysts, etc. The discussions around postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis were whispered. Today, they may not be mainstream issues, but we are more aware as parents.
Get an Ultrasound
My mum never saw me on the big screen, floating around in my amniotic fluid, but I had many ultrasounds with my daughter.
Get Divorced or Single Mum Status, Period
Divorce and/or single motherhood is more common today than ever. The US Census Bureau states that in 2011, there were 10 million single mothers with children younger than 18 years of age in the United States. In 1970, the number was 3.4 million. Many people tell me the older generation stuck a marriage out and believed in love. Perhaps this is so. Perhaps we have become lazier or more apt to quit when it's busted, but as a single mum who's getting a divorce after numerous rounds of marriage counseling, I think this generation is less likely to tolerate a bad situation because we have more resources to pull us through than our mothers did. Our mothers may be more apt to be afraid to leave a marriage than we may be.
No matter whether you're from the old school or new school, as mothers and grandmothers we have so much to learn from each other!