Dave Barry: Mad Men (and Women) Made Great Parents

The great Dave Barry has a huge and wonderful piece at the Wall Street Journal. LOVE that man!

The Greatest (Party) Generation

Raising children wasn’t always an all-consuming job. Humorist Dave Barry on his parents’ wild parties and the grown-up escapades of the ‘Mad Men’ era

We pick it up here, as he discusses his parents and their friends:

.And it wasn’t just cigarettes and alcohol they didn’t worry about. They also didn’t worry that there might be harmful chemicals in the water that they drank right from the tap. They didn’t worry that if they threw their trash into the wrong receptacle, they were killing baby polar bears and hastening the extinction of the human race. They didn’t worry about consuming trans fats, gluten, fructose, and all the other food components now considered so dangerous they could be used to rob a bank (“Give him the money! He’s got gluten!”).

Above all, they did not worry about providing a perfect, risk-free environment for their children. They loved us, sure. But they didn’t feel obligated to spend every waking minute running interference between us and the world. They were parents, but they were not engaged 24/7 in what we now call “parenting,” this all-consuming job we have created, featuring many crucial child-rearing requirements that my parents’ generation was blissfully unaware of.

They didn’t go to prenatal classes, so they didn’t find out all the things that can go wrong when a person has a baby, so they didn’t spend months worrying about those things. They just had their babies, and usually it worked out, the way it has for millions of years. They didn’t have car seats, so they didn’t worry that the car seat they just paid $249 for might lack some feature that the car seat their friends just paid $312 for does have. They didn’t read 37 parenting handbooks written by experts, each listing hundreds, if not thousands, of things they should worry about.

It would never have occurred to members of my parents’ generation to try to teach a 2-year-old to read; they figured that was what school was for. And they didn’t obsess for years over which school their kids should attend, because pretty much everybody’s kids went to the local schools, which pretty much everybody considered to be good enough. They didn’t worry that their children would get bored, so they didn’t schedule endless after-school activities and drive their kids to the activities and stand around with other parents watching their kids engage in the activities. Instead they sent their kids out to play. They didn’t worry about how or where they played as long as they got home for dinner, which was very likely to involve gluten.

I’m not saying my parents’ generation didn’t give a crap. I’m saying they gave a crap mainly about big things, like providing food and shelter, and avoiding nuclear war. They’d made it through some rough times, and now, heading into middle age, building careers and raising families, they figured they had it pretty good. Not perfect, but pretty good. So at the end of the workweek, they allowed themselves to cut loose—to celebrate their lives, their friendships, their success. They sent the kids off to bed, and they partied. They drank, laughed, danced, sang, maybe stole a piece of an IBM sign. They had fun, grown-upfun, and they didn’t feel guilty about it.

Whereas we modern parents, living in the era of Death by Handshake, rarely pause to celebrate the way our parents did because we’re too busy parenting. We never stop parenting. We are all over our kids’ lives—making sure they get whatever they want, removing obstacles from their path, solving their problems and—above all—worrying about what else will go wrong, so we can fix it for them. We’re in permanent trick-or-treat mode, always hovering 8 feet away from our children, always ready to pounce on the apple.

Yes, we’ve gotten really, really good at parenting. This is fortunate, because for some inexplicable reason a lot of our kids seem to have trouble getting a foothold in adult life, which is why so many of them are still living with us at age 37.

They’re lucky they have us around.

Wait, Dave. I thought Lenore loved ME the most. But maybe she loves you more?

Wait, Dave. I thought Lenore loved ME the most. She actually loves you more? 

 

, , , , , ,

48 Responses to Dave Barry: Mad Men (and Women) Made Great Parents

  1. E March 11, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    “It would never have occurred…” this is SO true (about many things). It uncomplicated my parents “parenting” experience. In some ways, I recognize this in myself as compared to other parents. I didn’t know it mattered what happened in 5th grade math that would trickle down into what 9th grade math class my kid took. I didn’t know kids got tutors to keep straight As (rather than getting a tutor to help a struggling student).

    I recently read a blog — it was actually about decluttering. It was kind of an “anti declutterring” stance (which is I guess not unexpected since declutterring is so popular, lol). Anyway, it talked about a number of demands on “us” including the “increased demands of parenting”. I was like — huh? How has parenting changed in any legitimate way any time recently? In reality it was just a “keeping up with the joneses parenting” I guess.

    I just found that phrase SO horrible.

  2. E March 11, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Let me correct my post — I just re-checked the blog and it was a phrase from this article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/16/opinion/the-clutter-cures-illusory-joy.html?hpw&rref=opinion&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=1

    The actual statement was “heightened demands of parenting”.

    Good grief.

  3. Kirsten March 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    where’s the ‘share on Facebook’ button for this? Everyone I know needs to read this! I’ve already recommended Free Range Kids more times than I can count… maybe they’ll listen to Dave Barry

  4. Christopher Byrne March 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    And don’t forget easy access to gasoline and a big box of strike anywhere matches within easy reach. And we all have all our fingers and toes!!

    Seriously, his last point is right!!!

    Thanks,Lenore!!!

  5. fred schueler March 11, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    this throws some light on my Father’s (1920-1992) advice about parties: “drink gngerale and watch the animals.”

  6. Beth March 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I love Dave Barry so much. I was saddened when, long ago now, he stopped writing a weekly column. He is funny, but insightful.

  7. Eric S March 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Oh the good ol’ days. I’ll even add, even in these occasional parties, the kids were sent off to bed, we would sometimes pretend to want a glass of water, just so we can go downstairs and check out what adults were doing. Sometimes, the other parents would interact with us for a while. Then we would get bored and head back upstairs. These times were also great for the kids, because it gave us the excuse to sleep over. lol

    The hosting parents: “Oh they are all asleep. Let them stay, they’ll be home tomorrow.” And usually, there was never a second thought from the other parents that their kids would just stay over. And the way we got home, if we didn’t get driven home (which didn’t happen very often), we would walk or take the public transit home. And in my childhood memories, this made me feel “grown up”. As in responsible, and that I felt I needed to prove to my parents that they were right to trust me. I didn’t want to let them down.

  8. lollipoplover March 11, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    My Mom had Bridge Club at least once a month at our house. No children were allowed inside so we just played with our friends in the neighborhood until she rung the dinner bell letting us know we were allowed back in. They had hobbies and activities that didn’t revolve around kids.

    We got one choice for an activity -join the swim team. That’s all. We all played other sports formally in middle and high school but none of this travel nonsense and youth league/tournament hell that we call youth sports today. My parents dropped off a car load of kids at the pool for practice and left.

    We played sandlot style stickball, kickball, and every game under the sun in the streets. We were bored all the time but managed to entertain ourselves and be happy without adults entertaining us every hour we were awake. They had better things to do.

    As for all of the fears of toxic chemicals in the environment, I love this blog about previous generations not understanding “Being Green”:

    http://charlieschoice.blogspot.com/2013/02/older-generation-not-green-enough.html

  9. JLM March 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    Oops! Is this not the way parenting still works? I missed that memo.

    Our Friday night get-togethers have now been officially named by my kids as “Friday Night Nights”. It works exactly as Dave reminisces – parents downstairs (usually discussing The State of the World in between polishing off a glass or several of wine) and kids upstairs (usually watching a movie or choreographing a new dance). Sometimes we allow the kids to take over Singstar but mostly we adults are the ones with the microphones!

    And yes, it usually ends with “Just leave them here, I’ll bring them home in the morning.”

    Friday Night nights are my favourite time of the week!

    Funnily enough, the small group of friends and I who take part in this refer to ourselves as The Village. As in “it takes a village to raise a child.” Because that’s the way we parent.

  10. Jill March 11, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    The word “parenting” has got to go. It has cooties.

  11. Beth March 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    I remember “let the kids sleep over, we’ll pick them up in the morning” too. Compare that to today’s angst over sleepovers, in which parents (mothers?) assume that the dad who just had them over for a party or get-together is going to molest their daughter as soon as the guests go home.

  12. Laci March 11, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    i love the spirit of FRK, but I’m not singing the praises of this piece like the previous commenters.

    Points of agreement: parenting shouldn’t be a full-time, completely encompassing job. Adults should relax and kids shouldn’t be over-scheduled.

    Points of disagreement: “worrying” about safety issues of which parents were not aware several decades ago is actually a sign of progress. If “everyone” was satisfied with attending their local school, we would not have the violent integration of Central High in our history. Do not discount the multitudes who were killed or maimed in the pre-car seat era, just b/c you didn’t suffer that tragedy.

    Dave Berry makes a lot of generalizations implying that worrying about our long-term impact on the planet and on our kids’ health is simply a waste of time with which his parents would not have endulged. In fact, engaged parents today are listening to science when making decisions about exposing kids to chemicals and antibiotics.

    My bottom line: my kids will be free to roam the neighborhood on their bikes, but I will insist they wear helmets.

  13. RG March 11, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    I love free range parenting, but to be honest, I’m kind of over these articles. I actually do not find this to be true, at least not in my cohort. There maybe something to the over scheduling issue, but I think that is partly a function of isolated suburban neighborhoods where kids aren’t really permitted to run around and play like they used to be. This is for all the reasons you discuss. Kids have to go to join a baseball team and do baseball practice, because there is no running down the road to the neighborhood baseball field anymore. This is partly peer pressure, and also city planning. These days, if we want to have social interaction, meet other parents, have our kids play with other kids, we have to do it in an organized fashion, because our culture is not set up to support the more informal ways we used to do it as kids in the eighties and before. There are no baseball fields in walking distance of my suburban neighborhood. And we have been priced out of any of the safe urban neighborhoods that might have walkable features like this. My six-year-old and four year old would totally be out running with the crowd in our neighborhood, if there was a crowd to run with. Since there isn’t, I enrolled them in baseball, and let them run free range on the baseball fields for a couple of hours.

    But one of my pet peeves right now is how often I hear the parents are exhausted and overworked because they are making choices to do unnecessary things that prior generations didn’t do. Motivated by Pinterest, or the Internet, or some other pressure to be the best and constantly in competition with one another. In actual truth, I find that most of my colleagues and myself work about 15 to 20 more hours per week then our parents did, but take home less money. As well, most of us are two parent career households, whereas lots of us had a mother who stayed home with us when we were small. I am writing this from a privileged middle-class backgrounds, i recognize. but when I was a kid I was lower middle-class, money was tight. Nevertheless, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad worked about 40 hours a week. He paid no student loans, he paid nothing for our health care. My husband and I both work closer to about 60 hours a week, and we pay about $50,000 a year in student loans, healthcare, and childcare costs, that were not a burden of my parents. I get told all of the time that the reason that I’m so tired, and so stressed out, and struggling with my children, is because I’m putting to much pressure on myself to create Bento box lunches like I saw on Pinterest. But the truth is I, and most of my friends, don’t do anything it any different level of perfection and our parents did. At least not in my estimation. Sometimes, if it’s fun, I create a neat birthday party invitation for my kid. And some years, like this year, I don’t even throw a party for my kid, and he gets a grocery store bought cupcake with a candle in it and that’s all. My kid’s non-party is not a source of stress for me. I’m not competing with my colleagues to try to have the best birthday party. I’m just trying to survive when I work 60 hours a week and I don’t have anyone at home to help and I have to be as resourceful and pennypinching on a two income household as my mother had to be when she was in a one income household. Only I don’t have the full week to do that, I have to somehow make it happen in the margins around a 60 hour work week. And we are struggling to make financial ends meet because we had to borrow so much money just to get to where we are, both indentured servants to the student loan debt machine. Dave Barry’s funny, and I get that he’s making a joke, along with all of the other pop-culture articles that I read that make the same joke. But the truth is, it’s ignoring a real problem for our generation of parents. It’s kicking us while we’re down. I fully support creating a culture that plans cities around walkable neighborhoods, and encourages parents to look out for one another’s children, rather than call the cops when they see them out playing. I am less enamored of the argument that the reason my life is tougher than my parents’ life was is because I am putting pressure on myself to be some awesome parent, rather than the more nuanced truth. Further, so many young people still live with their parents late in life, because there are no jobs for them to go and get. Because their student loan payments come due whether they have a job or not. Because if the minimum wage from 1970 had kept up with inflation, it would be $21 right now instead of seven. This comment is long enough. My point is simply, I love that you encourage today’s parents to trust their children. Continue to work to keep parents who do trust their children out of trouble with the authorities. I love promoting this culture of a return to kids running free outside. But let’s ease up on giving today’s thirtysomethings a hard time. We are drowning. Throw us a lifesaver, instead of an anchor.

  14. hineata March 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

    Love Dave Barry so much! The only point I’ll disagree slightly on is this thing about 37 year olds living in the same house. Certainly don’t want any of mine to be doing it, but I think only in some Western countries, ex-colonies, and only in the last generation or two, do we get so obsessed with this. Even some European countries regularly have 3 or 4 generations sharing houses. It’s about economics and culture.

    Are we truly the most selfish generation in history, we boomers and almost boomers (I miss out by a few months! ? My 18 year old is living at home this year, attending the local University, and he isn’t costing us anything beyond food and power, so less than he did last year at high school. Pays for his own transport etc, has loans for fees and some scholarships. Does some housework, usually his own clothes etc. In other words, very easy to have around. My husband, from an Asian culture, would be perfectly happy if he stuck around till he was 37. Though by then he would be paying board 😊.

    So that’s my rant for the day. Am just ambivalent about this whole adult child living with parents thing….am not sure why, if the adult is paying board and helping out as one would in any shared accommodation, that it should be an issue. Isn’t in much of the world….

  15. Donna March 11, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

    I love Dave Barry

  16. hineata March 11, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    @Donna…I loved him first, lol!😀

    Seriously, he’s one of the few American comedians I get to read or hear who seems to get satire. The others would be whoever writes for SNL and the Onion.

    You need more comedians like him. Some of what passes for comedy in the US is so insipid….though maybe we just suffer from poor programming choices 😊.

  17. pentamom March 11, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    “he paid nothing for our health care”

    You didn’t go to the doctor your entire childhood? Or he just stiffed the doctor? Or your family actually had an employer-provided health care plan with no deductible, that covered everything imaginable, with no maximums?

    You wanna talk about pet peeves — one of mine is confusing paying for “health care” with paying health insurance premiums. 🙂 Health care means someone physically takes care of your health issues — health insurance premiums are one possible mechanism for financing that process.

  18. Donna March 11, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    hineata – You have to pick and choose with American comedians. We have some good ones and some bad ones. George Carlin will always be my all time favorite. No matter how many times I hear it, his bit about airplane announcements still makes me laugh from beginning to end.

  19. Asya March 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    I am not sure I agree on the classification of environmental, safety, and toxicity concerns in the same category as overparenting and helicoptering. A lot of things modernize for the better.

  20. JKP March 12, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    Pentamom – I’m assuming that RG meant their health care was provided through the employer with no deductible.

    When I think how that has changed in my own family… Both my grandparents and parents paid nothing for health care for their families. Full health insurance was paid by the employer, no copays/deductibles, no employee paid premium. In fact, when my grandfather started the job he eventually retired from after getting out of the army, my grandmother was pregnant. She had the baby within the first month that he started working, before he qualified for benefits. They still talk about how his boss unexpectedly came to the hospital and wrote a check for their full bill. Back then, companies took care of their employees because they were part of the community instead of a multi-national behemoth.

    As health insurance premiums went up, companies started passing the costs on to the employees, expecting them to pay part of the premium and choosing lower cost plans with copays and deductibles. So yes, this generation pays for their own health care in a way they didn’t in previous generations.

  21. JLM March 12, 2015 at 1:23 am #

    @Laci – I agree with you about the safety concerns. I am known among my mummy friends as the car seat Nazi. Some things are proven to be a good idea. Using the right car seat is one of them (actually, using any approved car seat properly is one of them); keeping your children tied to your apron strings is not (I assume it has been proven detrimental but cannot cite any specific references!).

  22. BL March 12, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    Does anyone else think “Free Range Kids” would make an excellent name for a rock band?

    🙂

  23. Buffy March 12, 2015 at 7:14 am #

    Oh BL, coffee snorf all over the keyboard!

  24. Andrew Dalke March 12, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Dave Barry is one of my favorite comedians. That doesn’t mean his childhood memories are right. He’s talking about the generation which made Dr. Spock’s ‘Baby and Child Care’ a best seller.

    On prenatal classes Spoke wrote: Prenatal classes for expectant mothers and fathers are provided in many communities by the Visiting Nurse Association, the Red Cross, or the city health department. They are very helpful in discussing the questions and problems that all expectant parents have concerning pregnancy, delivery, and care of the baby.

    On children reading: It often turns out that the parents themselves are more ambitious for their child than they perhaps realize, more eager to have him excel. When he is playing childish games or rough-housing, they pay only a normal amount of attention. But when he shows an interest in reading at an early age, their eyes light up and they help him enthusiastically. The child senses their delight and responds with greater interest. He may be weaned away from the natural occupations of his age and turned into something of a scholar before his time.

    A randomly found blog post comments further: When I was a little girl in the 1950’s, my mother read Dr. Spock’s baby book and anything else she could get her hands on to make sure she was doing all the “right things.” Parents were told not to push their children. This meant that many in my generation were not encouraged to read before starting school. “Don’t interfere with what the trained educators will teach your children,” our parents were told.

  25. E March 12, 2015 at 8:46 am #

    @RG, you make some valid points. I know my Dad retired from a Big Oil company when he was 58 (his parents both died in their 60s so he chose to retire early, which happened to coincide with the the oil crisis in the 80s, so he had some extra gain from it) and I’ve often said that I’ve probably already worked more hours (at 50) than he did in his entire career. 40 hour weeks are the rarity, while he never worked OT and always had the last 2 weeks of the year off (I get 1 day off, xmas).

    However, my parents conducted their lives completely different from a consumer standpoint. We never (and I actually mean NEVER ever) dined out. My Mom mixed powdered milk with whole milk to stretch it. We took camping vacations. She patched our knees with those iron-on patches (lol just thinking about it). I got homecoming outfits for my birthday because I had a fall b’day, otherwise I’d pay for myself. My mother agreed to pay the first $75 of my HS dance team costs, while I had to pay the add’l 100s for outfits, camp, etc. They didn’t provide a car or college funds. They also didn’t have cable tv, cell phones, netflix, or a myriad of other things that I consider normal or standard.

    But you do raise a good point, that society has changed and we can’t just wish it back to “the old days”. I think his point is more about a fixation on being a perfect parent, and that’s not healthy for anyone, because it’s impossible. And that there are downsides for our children to boot. Food for thought.

  26. E March 12, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    @Andrew — I had the same thoughts about Dr Spock. My Mom used it, and I even have a copy. The internet has made everyone an expert however.

  27. fred schueler March 12, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    it’s very hard to track the actual history of things like kids’ freedom from schedule-control, moral strictures, and helicoptering. I just reread Eileen Power’s Medieval Women, and it’s very striking how indirect the evidence she has to use to get at the basic facts of daily life. I can remember from the 1950s a feeling that kids were freer from certain kinds of controls than they had been in recent generations, but it would take a Ph.D. thesis to work out if this was really believed, and how it played out in real lives.

  28. BL March 12, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    For one scary look at the 1950s (wrt children) read David Hajdu’s book “The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America”.

    Hard to believe that people who had so recently defeated Nazi Germany would engage in (comic-) book burnings and bannings, but it happened. And all to “save the children”.

  29. Dee March 12, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    I agree with some of this but the party thing hits home for my DH’s generation, which was more the Mad Men era. Their family had a “rumpus room” and yes, every weekend, the parents had a party and the kids? The kids were running around the neighborhood doing who knows what. The parents were having too good a time to really worry and as long as everyone got in bed eventually, all was well.

  30. the gold digger March 12, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    My parents actually went on vacation without my brother and sister and me. More than once.

  31. pentamom March 12, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    “When I think how that has changed in my own family… Both my grandparents and parents paid nothing for health care for their families. Full health insurance was paid by the employer, no copays/deductibles, no employee paid premium.”

    This was a very, very, rare situation, however, if you happened to work for a relatively small number of big companies. You can’t use it as a yardstick of the way things used to be for most people of that generation. Most people didn’t even have health insurance then. If you were self-employed or worked for a small company, it was likely that you paid cash, or else had a high-deductible major medical policy.

    Also, “no copays” were hardly ever the case. When I was working in my Dad’s pharmacy in the 70’s, the employees of the best employer in the area with the universally envied insurance plan paid $2 for a prescription, which seems like nothing now but was significantly more then.

  32. Carrie Chacon March 12, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Love it!
    I can feel a shift coming and that is a very good thing!
    Who knows maybe kids will start playing outside again!?
    Because my kids are lonely out there!

    PS.. Regarding “They didn’t worry about consuming trans fats, gluten, fructose, and all the other food components now considered so dangerous…” Because Trans-fats had just started being added to our foods a few years earlier (with little to NO research), we didn’t over consume on wheat so gluten was not an issue.. and fructose was mostly in whole fruits.

  33. lollipoplover March 12, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    “There maybe something to the over scheduling issue, but I think that is partly a function of isolated suburban neighborhoods where kids aren’t really permitted to run around and play like they used to be.”

    I totally disagree!
    We are in the ‘burbs but live in an older neighborhood that is brimming with playing children and adults exercising. These aren’t Mcmansions and it’s modest middle class(built in the ’60’s), but we have a swim club the kids bike to with acres of ground to play, 2 playgrounds, 2 baseball fields they can walk to, tennis and basketball courts, and walking and biking trails around the golf course (that they can play without adults). It’s what attracted us (and seeing so many active neighbors running, biking, pushing strollers) to buy here. While the newer developments look pretty and have fancier houses, they don’t come close to family-friendly vibe of our neighborhood where kids are outside playing everywhere. Even in winter, sledding down the sand traps on the golf course. And most of the *great* baseball games around here happen in backyards or in the street.
    Kids can play almost anywhere, they just need to be given the opportunity.

  34. Beth March 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    “My Mom mixed powdered milk with whole milk to stretch it. We took camping vacations. She patched our knees with those iron-on patches.”

    My gosh, this was totally my life too! Powdered milk was the worst; somehow my mom never got all the lumps out before mixing it with the whole. We camped also for vacations, or visited relatives and stayed at their houses. Those are the only vacations we ever took. We did go out to eat though, on payday (which was once a month for my dad). My brother and I looked forward to those paydays big-time, and we still have fond memories of the restaurants we went to back in those days.

  35. lollipoplover March 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    We also rarely ate out and my mom cooked all the time. We didn’t do the powdered milk thing but she had a milk delivery and an Amish farmer that sold direct to her (she cooked for 10 kids). I remember being obsessed with candy and treats (I still have a sweet tooth) because we always just had soups and roasts for dinner and thinking my friends who got Twinkies were so lucky.

    We didn’t get driven everywhere and mostly entertained ourselves with kids in the neighborhood. One commercial that I keep seeing talks about how your child “grows up in the backseat of your car”…like driving them door to door to school, in the safest car possible, is how to keep them safe. This one drives me crazy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFEKoh15o_g

  36. Papilio March 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    “We also rarely ate out and my mom cooked all the time.” Still true for me…! I almost fell off the couch when I heard that Brits eat in a restaurant 200 times a year, average. For us it was more like 2…

    @Hineata: “@Donna…I loved him first, lol!” No, that would be Lenore…

    “Wait, Dave. I thought Lenore loved ME the most. She actually loves you more?”
    Can we deduce from this that that middle-aged guy who lives in your house and sleeps in your bed doesn’t read this blog? 😛

  37. E March 13, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    @Beth — once a month out to eat would have been my dream, lol. I do think we must have gone to McDs once or twice but we shared fries between 2 kids, a small fry!

    My Dad was transferred out of state and the night before we moved, they allowed him to take our large family out to a nice dinner. I had never experienced WAITING for food, lol. In the end, we stole a few big glass mugs and these wooden menus because it was such a special evening that we probably would never do again. Yes, stealing is bad, but the waitress gave us a wink when we were plotting it.

    I never flew on an airplane until I was in college (and paid for my own ticket). There were certain things we couldn’t afford. I’m not saying 2 working parents are a bad thing (that’s what we are), but if we lived like my parents, we would not require that kind of income either.

  38. Papilio March 13, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Hah! At least a year ago I had found a funny column by an American about going to The Netherlands, and had saved it. Completely coincidentally I found it back when I was looking for another file yesterday and reread it. Turns out, that column was by this same Dave Barry. So I HAD read his name before…!

  39. John March 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    It’s interesting that when I was a 10-year-old kid back in 1966, my parents loved the good life. Dad loved his martinis before dinner and I remember going with mom and dad to “George & Mary’s bar” a number of times and sitting right at the bar between my mom and dad drinking a coke while mom and dad each drank a beer. I remember seeing a guy at the end of the bar get so drunk that he fell off the stool and peed his pants!

    Well nowadays, people would accuse my parents of child abuse for taking me into a bar and heaven forbid even allowing me to sit at the bar! They’d even claim I’d be scarred for life as a young child witnessing an adult get so drunk he fell off the bar stool and peed his pants. In fact, I think there might even be laws in some states prohibiting children from sitting at a bar, even with their parents. But my dad used that incident and told me, “See what happens when people drink too much and act like assholes?” Well I definitely took that message to heart and NEVER did anything like that!

    To make a long story short, I survived that “abuse” as a youngster and although today I am not a tee totaler, I am a far cry from being an alcoholic and although I am far from being a perfect person, I do not have a criminal record and am 5 years away from a nice retirement. So I think I turned out OK and I really believe that most children would also turn out OK even though experiencing going to a bar with their parents and sometimes witnessing drunks making a fool of themselves.

    I don’t think it really helps sheltering children from the real world and many times it actually hinders their maturity and development.

  40. John March 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    Now I’m not saying that you NEED to take your children along with you to a tavern but I’m just saying if parents like to have a drink at a pub now and then, it certainly is NOT gonna hurt to take your children with you. Of course, this is contrary to what the helicopter generation is saying nowadays. But if going into a pub is not your thing, that’s OK too. I don’t want to get all the tee totalers on this blog mad at me! 😉

  41. E March 13, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    @John, when we go to restaurants, there are typically families at ALL of them and most of those tables have people drinking alcohol. There’s a pub/restaurant near our home that has a big bar in the middle and it is filled with families and alcohol. I think of all things that people talk about shielding their kids from, you should have no worries about kids being exposed to it (if that’s perceived as a positive experience). I see it all the time.

    Parents might worry about ridiculous things, but it hasn’t stopped them from imbibing.

  42. Papilio March 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    If there are really people who insist children practically die on the spot when they see an adult have a wine with their dinner, they need therapy (those people, not the children). I mean, come on.

  43. Ryan March 14, 2015 at 3:19 am #

    Jesus I love this blog.

  44. Papilio March 14, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    @Ryan: She’s called Lenore 😛

  45. Beth March 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    @E, I can tell you, eating out once a month WAS a dream in real life! I think one reason I still recall those times so clearly (I can name the restaurants we went to and everything about them, what I ordered, etc) is because they were so special. My kids? We went to Culvers and ordered Pizza Hut so many times that there’s no way they consider that a formative experience of their childhood! I just hope we gave them other experiences that they will remember in that way.

  46. Andrea March 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    I’ve seen this line of reasoning before and I have mixed feelings about it. Yes, I’m sick to death of the endless list of bullet points society wants to require me to worry about. Yes, the kids of that era tended to survive rolling around in the car without a seat belt, mothers smoking during pregnancy, and walking around with dry cleaner bags over their heads. But that generation of parents was still very much ruled by the messages of the media and the “rules” of society. They were far less able to critically think about whether what they were being told was factual, right, and true, and they didn’t have the internet for alternate sources of information. They were far more willing to accept what teachers and doctors told them was right for them and their children and didn’t usually have any way to seek out alternative ideas, treatments, or pedagogy. There is a pleasing reckless disregard for safety on Mad Men, yes, but there is also the Twilight Sleep, the hiding of a shameful unmarried pregnancy and secret adoption of the baby, and kids lacking a healthy attachment to their parents.

    I have to conclude that the situation we have now, despite its gaping flaws, is preferable. At least for me. If I’m to do what’s right for my kids, I need a world of possibilities to choose from, not black and white truths that are forced on me. (Which reminds me, in the era of Mad Men my white kids most likely wouldn’t have been able play with black kids. So there’s all that stuff too.)

    Also, I for one feel a thousand times better when I stay away from dairy and gluten, and cutting out dairy seems to be ending my son’s months of headaches and stomachaches, so I have a hard time accepting dietary worries as nonsense. An alternate way to look at this generational divide is that many parents of this era are actually more sensitive to their children’s needs than their own parents were to their needs. Beneath all of hysteria about kids walking alone and waiting in cars, there is actually a strong undercurrent of parents who think about their kids as individuals rather than templates, and that’s a good thing.

  47. John March 16, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    @E…I certainly hope you’re right E but I guess the taverns in my small home town were probably more tavern than restaurant although they did serve food but they weren’t as classy as many of your Pubs are today. “Bar Louie” being a good example of a classy 21st century pub. But it seems as if more people today are so paranoid of seeing children in bars and taverns. I guess it depends upon what part of the country you live in. Being in Alabama, it’s much more conservative down here and people are less apt to bring their kids into a bar but if it’s a bar in San Francisco, you are more likely to see parents bring in their children.

  48. E March 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    @John, I think people don’t bring kids to bars/pubs because they cater to an adult client. I’m sure a kid can tolerate a trip into a bar/pub, but I think most establishments that cater to adults prefer to have adults there.

    I know if I got to a movie targeted to adults (PG13 or R) and people bring their small kids/babies in lieu of a sitter, it’s kind of annoying.

    Sometimes adults actually want an adult-only experience. I wouldn’t bring my kids to a bar because I don’t want to sit next to your kid at a bar. Just like the cocktail parties in this article, the kids are hidden away in the rumpus room, they aren’t mingling with the parents.

    My grandmother had an Xmas Eve cocktail party each year. It was adults only. My parents (of 6) loved getting out and having a few drinks with their siblings/cousins and leaving the kids at home (the oldest were old enough to babysit the younger).