Parenting trends seem to work in the same way that fashion trends work. In other words, they come and go. Think of bell bottom pants. They were the cool thing to wear in the '70s and then they came back around a couple decades later. Not with nearly as much oomph, but they still made an appearance.
While it seems light-hearted to compare parenting to wearing bell bottom pants, it's not all fun and games. Not so long ago, children and parents weren't required to be as vigilant as they are today. For instance, most people lock their doors nowadays and kids don't get called in for dinner from a full day of galavanting around the neighborhood.
Things are different. And parenting is different. But there are a few parenting trends that have stood the test of time. Like fashion, many of these trends have come and gone. Some have been renamed to appear like the cool, new way to parent. Others are as straightforward as they ever were. Sometimes it just takes a while for us to realize how valuable a certain habit is. Once we see the value, we invite them back into our families and think we're totally cool. Here's a lineup of "new" old parenting trends.
The average age of a child to be potty trained in the United States is three years. For over half the babies around the rest of the world, it's 12 months. Yep, apparently the rest of the world believes in bare bums and we Americans like to cover them up. The trend I'm talking about it elimination communication. So, what is it really? Super duper early potty training? Not exactly.
Elimination communication is learning to understand the natural signals your baby is sending you. Many parents around the world start doing this as soon as a baby is born.
Firm believers in this method explain that human babies are not born stupid. They are born ignorant to the ways of the world, but they know when they feel a pee or poo coming on. They are just as capable of "going" in other places as much as a baby bird is. If you didn't know, baby birds are taught by their birdie mama to poo outside the nest.
So, if a mama and a baby bird can learn to communicate about that topic then why can't humans? That's the basis of this trend. To start learning how to communicate with your own baby simply takes some bare-bummed time and to develop signals for each other.
Since the dawn of civilization, Gerber baby food has lined the shelves of grocery stores. Yes, cave mom and dads road their dinosaurs to the store to pick up baby food. They wrote their grocery lists on stone tablets and baby bibs were made out of PETA approved faux leopard patterned material. I'm totally busted your chops, of course.
Since the dawn of civilization, babies have been nursing with their mothers and have been eating the same food that the rest of the family ate.
Gerber and the rest of the baby food companies are a new thing. In fact, The Gerber company isn't even 100 years old. So, it doesn't have a lot of clout when it comes to the timeline of the universe.
But, baby-led weaning is the "in" thing nowadays. And really who is to blame us for jumping on this bandwagon. Sure, baby food is a great idea. Let's mash up food so our babies can have an easier time eating it. Done! But, it's difficult, time consuming, and expensive. It's only natural for exhausted mamas to hand over a green bean for their little one to gnaw on. Let's face it, cleaning up a handful of pulverized green beans is a ton easier than wiping off what seems like 10 gallons of Gerber from the floor, right?
There is a pedestal that many women like to elevate themselves onto. And without knowing it, other people push that pedestal up higher and higher. What I'm talking about is women boasting about giving birth without the help of medicine. I'm going to be honest, I'm in that boat. Going through labor and delivering a baby sans medicine is a very empowering event. So, the pedestal is going to remain in the air until the end of time for me.
But here's the thing, women have been doing this for years and years. Granted, many of them passed away in the throes of giving birth, but that's just how it was back then. If you've read Ina May Gaskin's "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" then you've read her stories of the women in third world countries having to stop their farming to go give birth on the side of the field. And they've been doing it this way for ages.
All this medicine is more new than many of us realize.
Admittedly, her stories make our tranquil and luxurious hospital suites look like a walk in the park. But, here's the other thing, birth is birth. Whether it's on the side of the field or in room #1225 of the maternity wing.
Every generation is different because the world around them is different. Really, the world around is ever-changing. What this means is that certain roles people play have slowly transformed into ways of life or even a belief system. Parenting is the perfect example. Years ago, people had more children than they typically do now (Duggars and all Duggar-like families excluded). Parents didn't stop their trade or housework simply because there was a baby to play with. Moms gave their little ones a doll or a wooden spoon and sent them packing to the other side of the room. After all, housework just doesn't do itself!
It's a little different today. Many moms are so incredibly dedicated to attending to all of their kids' needs that one-on-one attention is an all-day task. The downfall to this kind of parenting is that it's just not sustainable. Some things just can't be done at the same time as a Dory puzzle.
So, the idea of teaching kids how to play independently was revived. Although it might be a trend, it was necessary a few decades ago. For some, it's still necessary. But, this is definitely a trend that is not a new idea in the least bit.
To this day, parents get shamed for letting their kids sleep in the same room. You might have heard comments like, "You've got to get that kid out of there or she'll still be there when she's 13!" There are worse comments about co-sleeping failing to teach kids independence and self-soothing, but this post isn't about shaming. It's about normalizing old trends that are coming back around. Co-sleeping is one of these trends.
The funny thing about co-sleeping is not actually whether we're doing it, it's about whether it's accepted.
For instance, according to The Natural Child Project, 16 percent of Americans admitted to co-sleep opposed to 60 percent of Japanese admitting to it. But, the research dug a little deeper to discover that the percentage of parents actually doing it weren't that much different.
Sharing the family bedroom or co-sleeping is on the come-back, and it seems to be beneficial for both parents and kids. For starters, parents and babies get more sleep when they sleep in the same room. It also helps breastfeeding mothers to maintain their milk supply. The greatest benefit is that it reduces SIDS by 50 percent. It wasn't until 1999 that co-sleeping was frowned upon, but it seems parents are getting fed up with the stigma.
Another sleeping trend that is coming back is what we are now calling sleep training. This is actually the only way many people know it, but some call it letting your baby "cry it out." This doesn't mean that moms are not attending to their upset babies. More than anything sleep training is simply letting your baby fuss a little before going to sleep.
Like many other "new" old parenting trend, this one was done out of necessity. At least, it was years ago. Life wasn't as automated or digitalized as it is now. So, moms didn't always have the time to rock a baby to sleep or hold a baby throughout the entire nap or caress a baby back to sleep.
Moms still don't have the time to "baby" a baby at nap time or bedtime, but many of us do it anyway. To make things a little more streamlined, we revived this idea of sleep training and started letting our babies self-soothe a little more than before. Not only does this kind of sleep training give you a little more free time, but it also helps baby to learn that they're okay. It supports that sense of independence mentioned earlier.
Nursing more than one child at a time is known as tandem breastfeeding. Usually, it's referring to nursing two children who are different ages. For instance, a mom could steal be nursing her toddler when she gives birth to her new baby. Naturally, she would nurse both of them. The American culture is well-known for viewing tandem breastfeeding as abnormal, but women are over this ridiculous stigma.
Throughout history, children were typically breastfed until they were around three years old. Sometimes even longer. And women usually got pregnant every two years or so. Not only was it the safer option in many areas of the world, it was the only option.
Clearly, tandem breastfeeding is nothing new. But, it's a rising trend anyway.
Cosmopolitan did a great article on tandem breastfeeding featuring real stories from women. Here's what one had to say, "'Tandem-ing is both amazing and not so amazing. It shifts by the day, sometimes by the hour. There are times when I want to just nurse one or not be touched, like, at all. But they both need me. Some days, it's emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. Other days, I'm grateful for the fact that I am able to provide them comfort and food with such an awesome bond."' —Micah Woodbury, Long Beach, California"
Old schoolers like to blame smart phones for taking over the world and even making it a more stressful place to live. Well, that might actually be true. Some push the accusations a little further and claim that smart phones are making us worse parents because we're always looking at our phones. That we're so distracted by Facebook or Instagram that we aren't even paying attention to our kids like we should.
Truthfully, we are distracted by our phones. It does cool things, so we look at it a lot. Sometimes our kids go down the slide and we don't see them slide down because we were checking out this awesome picture on Instagram. So, yeah. We are distracted.
Here's another thing, that trend of being distracted parents didn't start with smart phones. It started with sabre-toothed tigers trying to eat the rabbit stew that was brewing near the cave kitchen.
Or worse, trying to get to the children that were playing around the cave kitchen. For centuries, parents have been distracted and have been occupying themselves with this task or that task to survive the world in which they lived. Although the mode has changed to digital devices, distracted parenting isn't a new thing in the least bit.
If you're like many people, wearing hand-me-downs was normal. To this day, I wear an over abundance of flannel and I blame that on the fact that I wore my older brother's flannel hand-me-downs until I was like...okay, I still do. But, the point is that wearing clothes that weren't brand new was just the way it was for many, many years.
It was cheap and it was easy. Oh, one kid outgrew it, but it can still fit the other three kids for like six years. No need for a shopping trip yet, says mom!
But, the world is changing. People now want acknowledged for recycling. It's a pat on the back for being "green" and saving the world. Or, standing up for a poor worker in a sweat shop sewing hundreds of garments for 30 million hours a day.
Saving the planet and defending the defenseless are both incredibly noble things to do. Incredibly noble. More people should do them both. And, you should feel proud of yourself for handing down clothes to other people, but it's not a new concept. Again, this was the way of life. Even just a few decades ago, this was a way of life. Now, it's a "new" old trend.
We've been traveling back to the cave man days a lot in this post, so you might be getting tired of hearing about Crog and Grog and their dinosaur steaks.
So, let's just go back to the pioneer days for this headline. During these days, there were doctors but they weren't everywhere like they are today.
There were no signs with big, blue signs with "H" on them to guide the pioneer horses to the hospital when it was time to deliver the baby. Nope, usually the father just played the part of good ole doc.
It was a much harder time because, as you might know, pioneer dads typically weren't medically trained. They couldn't even watch House or Grey's Anatomy to learn this kind of stuff. They just had to wing it. As you would imagine, there were a lot of fathers present at their baby's birth. Most of the time, they were the first to see them.
As civilization because more "civilized," the trend arose that it was no longer appropriate for a man to witness his wife giving birth. In the opinion of many generations, this trend is sort of lame, so a new one has been started. Rather, an old one has been revived - Dad's being present at birth. Only now, they don't usually have to deliver their own baby.
Like mentioned before, it used to be okay for parents to just send their children outside to play. Kids went galavanting around the neighborhood, stealing cookies off of some other mom's countertop, and playing "swords" with branches that fell from the trees.
Frogs were apparently a big deal back then because you rarely hear of a child playing outside in nature were a frog doesn't make an appearance.
The world isn't what it used to be. In some ways, this is good and in other ways it's bad. Generally speaking, kids play inside more than they used to. Parents can't send their kids to run around the neighborhood because more parents don't even know their neighbors like friends. Neighbors are usually strangers. Maybe not the ones directly besides us, but definitely down the street a few houses.
Because of the new dangers, parents got into the habit of letting their kids watch TV or playing video games. Things are changing now. Parents are compromising. They're now sending their kids outside in the backyard to play with the sticks and frogs out there instead of being glued to the tube all afternoon. Not only is this encouraging sensation based cognitive learning, but it's bringing creativity and imagine back to the forefront.
Tandem breastfeeding was mentioned earlier, but I saved extended breastfeeding for its own separate headline.
According to history, three years old was the latest age that kids around the world would breastfeed. This wasn't known as extended breastfeeding or breaking apart from any cultural norms. It was the cultural norm.
Their toddler needed comforted and nourishment, so mom whipped out one of the girls and took care of business. Easy breezy.
Somewhere over the course of history, this all changed. Nursing your baby to one year became a huge goal. Then you were supposed to magically stop nursing because your baby was now...gasp, one year old! One of many reasons that extended breastfeeding gets looked down on is that it's unattractive for mom. Another reason is that many people think it's unnatural. That we've progressed enough as a culture to not have to resort to "savage" behavior. That we have sippy cups and yogurt squeezies to nourish toddlers. And that everything else we can provide for them aside from breastfeeding should be enough.
But, women are tired of these nonsense reasons preventing extended breastfeeding. Many moms, now a days, have gotten a taste of breastfeeding and have seen first-hand how beneficial it is to both them and their baby. Thus, a "new" old trend was started.
Maybe you're familiar with the idea of over-parenting or over-scheduled child. There is even a book written by Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise called, "The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap." In this book, it goes into detail on how parents are trying so hard to be good parents and to give their kids every opportunity in the world that they are actually inhibiting their kids. In other words, they present the idea that kids are no longer allowed to just be kids.
Instead, they have to be soccer stars on Monday, gold medal gymnasts on Tuesday, prodigy musicians on Wednesday...you get the point.
The motivation behind most parents is good-hearted, but some believe it's doing more negative than good for our kids.
So, the "new" old trend of under-parenting became a thing in recent years. As you may have guessed, this idea allows us parents to just take a step back from our kids. Instead of enrolling them in 1,001 extracurricular activities, we just let them play with their legos or kick a soccer ball to the dog in the backyard. They might even help us mix up cookie dough or make dinner. More than anything, they're relaxed and calm instead of running around from this practice to that practice.
The family dinner is making a major comeback. The bell bottom pants comeback several years ago doesn't even compare to the comeback the family dinner is making. This actually goes hand-in-hand with the concept of under-parenting. For several decades, kids have been encouraged and even pressured to be a part of this event or join that club. If their evenings were filled with organized activities then they weren't making progress in their lives.
Those ideas are quickly going to the wayside. With parents letting their kids slow down a little bit and take things easier, it's allowing more time together as a family. Without having to run from school to the babysitters to one practice then another and cram homework in, it's leaving time for families to sit down and eat dinner together. Formerly, kids and parents ate on-the-go because they had places to be and people to meet.
The family dinner isn't just about slowing down. It's also about connecting to one another. You can talk to one another and actually take the time to listen.
Even if you still have busy lives, the family dinner is a time when you can just stop for a moment and anchor yourself into the wonderful moment of being a family.
It might have been the 1960s or the 1970s that really saw the trend of being more like friends with your kids than parents. Most likely due to the stereotypical 1950s authoritarian style parenting of "my way or the highway," the next generation of parents let the pendulum swing way far in the other direction. Each generation of parents is different than the one before it. New trends are born and old ones goes. That's just how things play out in the world.
Sometimes trends swing too far in one direction and have to go through a few trial and error moments before returning to some sense of balance. It seems like that's what's happening now when it comes to parenting versus being BFF with your child.
In the past, what your parents said was like the law. There were no if, ands, or buts.
Then the trend changed to overly lax parents who didn't have any rules. Again, the parenting pendulum swung to display parents teaching, guiding, disciplining, and offering their kids the opportunity to express themselves so that parents and kids come to some form of agreement. Sometimes it just takes a while to find that happy medium when it comes to parenting...or anything else in life, really.