When I was a kid growing up in the '90s, it always felt like my parents were really hard on me. There were tons of foods we weren't allowed to have in the house. There were lists of words we were forbidden to say without being sent to our rooms. And there were all kinds of adventures and opportunities that we'd have to campaign for even if they were as simple as going to a waterpark with a friend.
During that time, and as chronicled in my diary, my parents were considered "strict". They wanted us to be safe, healthy, and out of trouble like any parents, but the amount of rules and restrictions always seemed like overkill. Now that I'm at an age where I'm starting to see the people who grew up in the '90s start to have their own families, I'm so surprised by what they won't allow their kids to do.
You'd think we'd be more lax because we grew up with strict parents, but so much has changed socially since we were kids that the restrictions parents now place on their kids would have felt like a jail sentence in the '90s. I thought my mom was strict for not letting me smoke cigarettes and drink diet soda. Parents now don't even let their children stand in the same rooms as microwaves. Her are six other things that our parents let us do in the '90s that would never fly today:
Use Hurtful Language
It wasn't until the last few years when we started to see more of a mainstream representation of bullying in the media. Then we could see clearly the dangerous mental and physical effects of bullying, and parents started to really crack down on the kinds of things they let their children say.
Play Video Games All Day
Our parents weren't particularly proud of us if we spent the day inside playing video games, but parents today would worry that their children's brains were turning into mush if they did that. Screen time is limited now and outdoor social time is not just encouraged, but strictly enforced.
Use Tanning Oil
In our house growing up, we had coconut-scneted tanning oil in the medicine cabinet next to our toothpaste. It was just another thing we used regularly in the summer. My sister and I would slather our pale limbs in the sweet oil and go outside and let our skin fry. When skin cancer become a reality and not a warning, we weren't allowed out of the house without 50 SPF in the summer. Now parents put max sunblock on the kids year round.
No Seatbelts And Cell Phones
My parents were always really paranoid about road safety. When I started to drive I thought they were incredibly strict because they preferred me not to talk on the phone while I drove and would frown if they saw me drive off without buckling up. Now it's not just parents that are concerned with road safety. Most cars will beep incessantly if you don't buckle up and you'll get a ticket if you so much as have your phone in your hand.
Walk ... Anywhere
When I was a kid, I was allowed to walk to my friend's houses in the neighborhood. I was allowed to walk to the bus stop at the end of the street. I was allowed to ride the train into the city alone. Now, when I see a kid walking down the street alone I wonder if I should call the police to save him. It's just not safe for kids to do anything alone now. By the time I have a kid, I'll probably make it wear a body cam and GPS.
Be Around Smokers
We always knew that being around cigarette smoke was bad, but parent's smoked at get togethers and kids were often in a close-windowed room with someone smoking. It wasn't until I was a teenager that secondhand smoke became such a widely regarded danger. Parents now barely burn incense around their kids, let alone unfiltered stoges.
Images: Nickelodeon, Giphy