The one thing about parenting that rings true no matter what generation you’re from: raising kids isn’t easy. It wasn't easy for our parents in the 80s, 90s, and early 00s, and it isn't/won't be true for us if we decide to pop out progeny of our own. This feels particularly true now that technology is moving too fast for parenting guides to catch up. When we 20- and 30-somethings were kids, it all seemed kind of seamless. Every year something new happened: "Yay, Nintendo 64!"; "Oh, hey, iPods are a thing!"; "Wow, there’s texting on my phone?"; "WHOA, the internet isn’t making exorcism noises anymore!" We took technology one piece at a time, slowly, integrating it into our largely screen-free lives.
And it's not even just about technology. I don’t think it even occurred to me until recently just how different everything is going to be when millennials have kids. I was working at a daycare when it first hit me: I was on the nap time watch when a toddler woke up and started to whimper. I got up to comfort him, not realizing I’d left my phone on the floor. In the minute it took for me to come back, another sly baby had woken up, opened my phone, texted two people, taken a selfie, and called my mom. He was eighteen months old. It became very clear in that moment: people my age and I were, should we choose to procreate, would be raising very different kids in a very different world.
As much as we want to learn from our parents’ example, some of the old rules of parenting don’t apply. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to prepare. Here are a few of the things my parents let me do that I definitely don't see being permitted with my future kids:
Posting Gratuitous Selfies On Social Media
My kids are obviously going to be adorable, since I plan on marrying Andrew Garfield. And because of this adorableness, they are probably going to feel inclined to take selfies. And that's perfectly alright. But unlike our parents, the selfie trend will not take us by surprise. I will be well-equipped to steer my future children into tasteful and classy selfie-posting. Because that's what mothers are for.
Playing Video Games About Baking
I don't even understand why this appealed to me as a kid. I was wasting hours of my life making fictional brownies when I could have been making real ones and eating them. If my future children want to bake, we're going to bake for real.
Believing In Santa Until An Absurdly Old Age
Bless my parents. They knew how much we loved Santa and how fiercely I defended his existence. But it got to the point where kids at school stopped making fun of me and started pretending that they also believed in Santa so as not to damage my clearly fragile being. I realize in retrospect that this was kind of sweet, but did not do anything to reduce the sting of my humiliation once I found out the truth. So if my kids ask, I'm just going to tell them. The cycle of awkward ends with me.
Playing With Wheelies
I was stunned to find out the other day that these death machines still exist. As fun as they were when we were invincible tweens (which also was a word that basically didn't exist back when it applied to us, and I'll never use it to describe my children), it's time for parents of all generations to accept the fact that these are a thousand and one elbow fractures waiting to happen.
Staying Up Past Midnight Doing Homework
I'd like to think that by the time I have kids, the public school system will have reformed to the point where my future children don't feel it necessary to pull all-nighters for high school assignments that likely have no impact on their learning or life goals. But if that doesn't happen, I'm going to put a stop to it myself. It's just plain unhealthy. No amount of homework is worth losing a night of sleep when you're under the age of eighteen.
Texting At The Dinner Table
I've looked up from my screen at the dinner table before to realize that ALL SIX MEMBERS OF OUR FAMILY WERE LOOKING AT THEIR PHONES. There will be a phone bowl in my house, and everyone will stick theirs in at the beginning of the meal.
Eating Bagels That Aren't From New York
I don't want them to know the dark side of bagels the way I did growing up. No child should ever be subjected to that.
Doing Six Thousand Five Hundred Twenty Seven Extracurriculars
Our parents loved us and so they encouraged us to do whatever we had to do to get into college, including and not limited to every single club, team, and artistic pursuit the school had to offer. By the time this generation graduated high school we were all burned out and not even a bit closer to figuring out what we actually wanted to do with our lives. So future children: don't half-assedly do a million things. Do one thing, or a few things, and love them and do them well.
Putting Toothbrushes In Easter Baskets
Okay, dental hygiene is important. But was there anything less exciting than finding out that a giant bunny wanted me to keep my teeth clean? I thought he was on my side. My kids are getting nothing but candy, candy, candy. (I'm aware that when the dentist bills come that this will fill me with regret, regret, regret, but what's a cavity other than proof that you're living your life to the fullest?)
Operating A Motor Vehicle Without A Permit
Why won't my kids be playing in the tiny electronic cars of the 90s? I'll let the gifs speak for themselves.
Case in point.
Letting Them Become A Meme
This never happened to me, but it easily could have. My parents posted cute videos of us just the same way all these unsuspecting parents did. Future parents will have to be vigilant. Your child can become a meme when you least expect it. So if my kid does something wacky and precious after getting drugged by aforementioned dentist, I'm going to keep it to myself (probably.)
Images: Getty, Giphy (12)