Here’s Why We Can’t Parent the Way Our Parents Did

Because, actually, kids aren’t allowed to be anywhere alone.

Nowhere. An unsupervised brother and sister walked from their home to a nearby park in Silver Spring, Maryland, and someone called the police on the parents. The kids were 10 and 6. I was rollerblading all over my neighborhood when I was that age – and you better believe my mother wasn’t skating along behind me.

Because we are constantly reminded of the terrible things that will happen to our children.

If it isn’t gun violence, it’s kidnapping, or drowning, or car accidents, or drugs, or chemicals in the food, or chemicals in diapers, or chemicals in household cleaners, or chemicals in the water. We are reminded of these things on the news, on our social media feeds and at play dates. I asked my mother how she dealt with the onslaught of worries, and she said, “We didn’t have them.” My mother’s generation had their own share of concerns, of course, but they weren’t faced with them on a daily – even hourly – basis like we are.

Because we have the Mommy Wars, and those aren’t going anywhere.

My mother told me that if she thought another parent was doing something wrong, she might gossip about it one-on-one with a mommy friend. However, my generation will outright shame a “bad” parent on the news or in social media. My generation posts incessantly about how we’re doing parenting wrong when we feed our kids non-organic foods, when we don’t care about GMO, when we bottle-feed, when we breastfeed, when we co-sleep and when we sleep alone. We still have the ability to parent as we wish, but we have to face the judgment and utter vitriol in a much more open way than generations past.

My generation is taking the “it takes a village” sentiment a little too far. Unfortunately, the good intentions mean my children won’t have the freedoms I did.

I can’t parent like my grandparents, and I can’t parent like my parents. I assume that my children won’t be able to parent the way I do, either. In 2035, there will be laws against letting children run through sprinklers and restrictions on how much time they can spend in the sun.

I can only do the best I can with what I have. And right now, I have to figure out how to convince my almost-2-year-old that SunButter is delicious.

This article originally appeared at Message With a Bottle, published with permission.

Kate Meier
Kate Meier has two awesome/crazy children and relies on wine and Netflix binges to survive parenting. Writing is her catharsis and her very meager meal ticket. Follow her on Facebook at or read more on her blog at

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