Let’s talk: Generational differences in raising children

Growing up you probably threw caution to the wind, testing boundaries at every opportunity to prove your invincibility to the
Let's Talk

Growing up you probably threw caution to the wind, testing boundaries at every opportunity to prove your invincibility to the rest of the world. You slept in cots that were coated in lead-based paint, you rode your bike without a helmet, you spent your time in the sun without so much as a hat, you ate food not caring about its nutritional value and you rode around in the family car without a seat belt.

It’s amazing you survived. How times have changed.

Modern parents have more support than ever before, but many still feel the pressure to be the perfect parent.

New research from S-26 Gold Toddler showed that an overwhelming 81 per cent of modern day mums felt the pressure of parenthood. That’s up from 67 per cent a generation ago, and it highlights the generational differences in raising children.

But before you dive in with some well-intended advice to help your son or daughter in the raising of their children, stop. How you help your loved ones feel validated as a parent is as equally important as holding on to what you think is best.

There are differences in expectation, in discipline and in values, and it doesn’t mean one generation is right while the other is wrong. It highlights that you might need to bridge the gap between different generations when it comes to parenting.

Today’s parents couldn’t imagine a world without the internet, pay TV, video games, mobile phones or fast food outlets.

Today’s children won’t understand the cushion of safety you experienced growing up in suburbia; that place where front doors remained unlocked, belongings could be left outside on the front lawn overnight without fear of them being stolen and you could roam freely around your neighbourhood without fear of being abducted.

However, you might notice your children have also developed emotional connections with their children, which is perhaps different to the experience you had with your own parents. Parents today want to raise their children in ways that makes everyone feel secure and stable.

Afford your children the right to decide how their children will be treated in their own home, and if that differs from your expectations be sure to communicate with your children in advance of any visits to your place so your grandkids can be on their best behaviour.

In your day there was probably no such thing as a time-out chair or a naughty corner, or even a rewards chart for positive reinforcement of good behaviour, but that’s what constitutes modern discipline techniques.

If you think your children are a bit of a ‘soft touch’ as parents when it comes to discipline, try not to let your judgement get the better of you. Acknowledge that the days of raised voices, the wooden spoon and washing mouths out with soap have faded, and encourage your children to talk with you about the methods they are using so that you can be consistent when you are the one doing the discipline.

When it comes to family values parents of every generation can learn from each other. If you want to develop and maintain strong family bonds, be sure to talk with your children and your grandchildren. Today’s parents are involved in many aspects of their children’s lives; and children are encouraged to talk to their parents about anything and everything.

What’s important is that you don’t make your family members feel like your disapprove of the way they are raising their children, if that’s how you feel. Acknowledge the new parenting methods without losing the belief in your own.

What are some of the differences you’ve noticed in raising children from generation to generation? Have you ever discussed discipline or values with your children?


  1. Kenn Wightwick  

    Generational differences in raising children. Well maybe I’ll give you a clue to my thoughts by simply asking this question – Do we live in a better world today than we did say 40 years ago? For all the wonderful advances that have been made over the past few decades, I honestly believe the quality of our daily lives is poorer mainly due to the continued breakdown of the values that used to weld our society together.

    • Susan Bell  

      what values? do not talk, only adults have a right to an opinion. Do not question the demands of your parents, never question your parents political, social and religious views. Never question your parents treatment of you, never step out of the little mental, emotional box they shove you into. Never question the use of violence in a family, no matter who is being used as an emotional or physical punching bag. Never question your government.
      For me parenting was always a two way street between myself and my children and when they started going out I always asked them to show me the ways that they could remain safe. I taught my children and their friends first aid so if one of them collapsed (drinks, drugs) the others knew how to keep that person safe.
      When my children were young at primary school I would take them to cafes and cheap restaurants so they learnt how to behave and eat. When they had done something wrong I would talk WITH them and they could recognise what they had done wrong, who it had effected and what they could do to rectify the situation. I never had to punish them. We worked as a family not as a parent vs child. I knew that children learn their behaviour by observing parents and other adults, therefore I always say thank you to shop assistants, am always ready to help someone in need and always considerate, so are my children.

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