Parenting Now Versus In The '90s: 15 Differences

The '90s were a great time to be alive! The butterfly clips, lip smackers and flared-out jeans were all the rage and it seemed like everything would stay that way forever. Sadly, the times change. We must all evolve, and the world will evolve around us. It is hard to imagine that 1999 was just about 20 years ago, that is enough to make anyone feel old.

History does repeat itself, and a lot of the '90s fashion trends are starting to slowly come back, and the reason is that a lot of people who grew up in the '90s are becoming parents today. I myself am a '90s kid, I was born in 1985 but spent a lot of my childhood and early teen years in the '90s and I miss that time! It has me thinking, as I am now a parent of a toddler with one on the way, how have things changed when it comes to parenting?

It is easy to compare parenting in the '30s to today, because they seem so vastly different. When we are talking about a time that we have seen in our lifetime and that is not that long ago it is a bit harder to see any differences. We assume that not enough time has passed for anything to be that drastically different. At first sight it may seem that way, but when we look deeper into the biggest parenting issues of today we see that the two eras are completely different.

As far as which decade had it better or easier, that is subjective. We will give you all the basic ways in which parenting in the '90s and today are different and let the reader be the judge.

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15 No Cell Phones!

Ok, so there were technically cell phones in the '90s but they were boxy looking things that didn’t really do anything. There were no smart phones, and no internet access. No parent in the '90s would ever consider buying their child a cell phone, and today you don’t have to go far without seeing a child with their eyes glued to some sort of device.

Not that having a cell phone is wrong, it is just a drastic difference when raising a child. One can argue that the reason parents buy their child a cell phone in today’s world is because of the prevalence of outside dangers that we are facing. Where these dangers not there before? In the '90s, parents would give their children a pager to clip on their pants if they needed to get a hold of them. If you don’t know what a pager is, I am going to feel really old!

14 What About A Family Night Out?

Does anyone even do family night outs anymore? It seems like a thing of the past. Even if you do still partake in this activity the whole premise of a family night has changed very much since the '90s. Now, a lot of families are opting to go on lavish vacations with their children, all of which is displayed on their social media accounts. If they don’t go away, they are opting to stay home and stream one of many movie options off one of their several servers.

Back in the '90s it was a bit more work to have a family movie night. More and more families were choosing to go out to a movie (probably because they were reasonably priced). If they wanted a movie night in, the whole family had to load up in the car and go to a video store and wander the aisles fighting over which movie they could rent. Times sure have changed!

13 The Definition Of A Baby Sitter Was Very Different

If you asked a parent in today’s world what a babysitter was, they would probably say Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol. TV has become a great way to entertain the kids for a while, so mom could clean the bathroom or have 5 whole minutes of peace of quiet. If a mom or dad wants to go on a date night, they are sure to call a grandma or another close family member to watch their kids. We live in a world where you don’t trust anyone.

Trust wasn’t such an issue in the '90s and they didn’t rely on the TV as much as parents do now (the probable reason is listed in another section). They also didn’t always depend on a family member to watch the kids. They were just fine hiring the teenage girl down the street to care for their children while they went out. You may have been one of those babysitters in the '90s, I know that I was.

12 It Was Much Cheaper

The cost of living is always going to change, and it is most likely always going to go up. It seems to be more and more expensive to simply live in this world while having decent housing and food on the table. That would mean that it is only common sense that it was much cheaper to raise a family in the '90s. However, think about what it takes to raise a kid. One of the biggest expenses when you have children is the amount of clothes you need to buy.

Children and teenagers grow so fast, and it seems like you are buying them new clothes every other week. Parents in the '90s got lucky because the cool style was grunge. The great thing about grunge is that children no longer wanted the latest fashions. They were fine shopping at thrift stores and wearing their dads and grandpa’s old clothes. This was considered cool.

11 All Content Was Appropriate

There is always a level of censorship when it comes to raising children. Keeping them from seeing things that they really should not be seeing. This was much easier to do in the '90s. Don’t get me wrong, there was still inappropriate content out there, like adult movies and other ‘gross’ videos. However, it was much harder for children to access. Mom and dad would keep their ‘stash’ at the bottom of a sock or underwear drawer and were calm in knowing it would likely not be discovered.

The access has changed, and these types of material are easier for children to find. With their interest in technology and their ease in using these items, it is only a matter of time until they discover something that is not for children’s eyes. Parents in today’s world must be much more diligent in monitoring what their children are watching when they use the computer or a tablet.

10 Loud Road Trips

Road trips are always fun, and families continue to take them many times over the course of a year. However, the whole scene of a road trip has completely changed. Back in the '90s, a family road trip was loud. It involved a lot of singing, talking, games and many rounds of  "99 bottles of beer on the wall". There was probably a discman in the car, but only one, and all the kids would fight over whose turn it was. You also had to make sure that you held it close and still, so it didn’t skip. The batteries would also inevitably die.

Road trips in today’s world are very quiet. Since kids are so used to headphones, both with cords and wireless, and the fact that every child has some sort of device to entertain themselves, this means that road trips now are way more quiet. That could be up to you to decide if it is for the best or the worst!

9 World Danger Was Not So … Dangerous

Now I don’t want to appear completely naïve, and I know there was danger in the world in the '90s it just wasn’t so prevalent. When it came to how parents dealt with dangerous situations, that has changed. In the '90s, all we really had to teach our children about was not to talk to strangers, don’t take candy from strangers and not to get in a strange vehicle. That was it. Children in the 90’s didn’t even know what a terrorist was.

Some may say that this all changed on September 11th, 2001. That was a pivotal moment in determining how parenting was changing. The world has just gotten worse. Now parents are having to have conversations with their children about terrorists and other dangers. Conversations that no one wants to have and that are extremely difficult to get through.

8 What Is Paper Money?

In the '90s, paper money was the way to go. Everyone paid in cash and children would love to receive paper money, because no matter the amount it always felt like a million bucks. People paid for things in cash, they weren’t pulling out the plastic or tapping a smart phone to purchase goods. You also had to give your child actual money for school lunches.

Now, everything is done online. We pay for everything online, we bank online and when we need to make sure our kid has money for lunch, we load up their online wallet and the money is deducted. Sure, this has gone a long way in preventing bullies from stealing your kid's milk money, but it is also very impersonal. There was nothing quite like the feeling of walking to school with a five-dollar bill in your pocket and feeling like Bill Gates.

7 DIY Was The Way To Go!

There are going to be a lot of people that think more parents are DIY-ing it up now than there ever were in the '90s. That would be wrong. The introduction of Pinterest and other like-minded apps and websites have given the false impression that more and more people are doing things themselves. This is not true. Today’s world is a busy one and more people are leaning towards purchasing things to save time and energy.

Back in the '90s, invitations to birthday parties were always hand made. It is just what they did. They were never anything glamorous, like you see on Pinterest today, but they were genuine. Now, people are flocking to the many companies (think Shutterfly) that print custom made paper products. I guess it can still be considered DIY because you do edit it yourself, but let’s face it, the company is doing all the hard work.

6 TV Was Worse!

At this point in the list, you are probably thinking that parenting in the '90s is winning. In my humble opinion you would be right, but there is one area where the decade is really lacking. That is TV content. First, the options were slim-pickings. There was only basic cable back then, and there were only a couple of stations that aired TV programming for youngsters. Now, children and parents have a larger selection, and the choices are so much that they can be overwhelming.

Secondly, the content on 90’s children TV was horrible. It seems like your only option was Caillou, Barney and Teletubbies. Sure, Barney had some great lessons about sharing, love and caring, but all three of these examples were enough to make mom’s ears bleed (especially Caillou). Today, programs for children are so vast and educational that is hard to not find at least one show that mom can handle watching as well.

5 Mom Shaming Was Non-Existent!

It is hard to be a mom in today’s world, there is always someone out there who seems to be doing it better and rubbing it in your face. Or, there is a sanctimommy hidden in the bushes just waiting to call you out on your awful parenting. Either way, it seems like a moms today can not make any decisions without being judged or shamed for it. The reason for this is the introduction of social media.

It is much easier to vocalize your judgments when you are behind a computer screen, and that is exactly what these moms are doing. However, the judged moms are always a bit to blame because there is an overwhelming need to share our parenting journey on our Facebook pages, which can be an open invitation for people to comment about how they feel about your parenting.

4 My Kid Asked Me Who Raffi Was Today!

Children entertainers have changed, now The Wiggles are the big hit and the must see for all the children out there. Unfortunately, wherever young children want to go the parents must go too. A lot of parents of today’s world grew up in the '90s. They are familiar with certain entertainers and they love them, and the entertainers of today just don’t seem to measure up.

If you grew up in the '90s you remember Raffi, Mr. Dress-up and Mr. Rogers! Those were the must-see entertainers. They were also a little more bearable than The Wiggles and The Big Yellow Boot. Parents almost wanted to se these guys as much as their children did. I mean, have you heard the Baby Beluga song? It is adorable and a classic staple in any '90s kids memory. It also makes us feel really old when we try and introduce our children to the music of our past, and they look at us like we are crazy!

3 Tooth Fairy Was Just Chump Change!

AR2YRE A young girl in her bed with a note for the tooth fairy next to her single milk tooth.. Image shot 06/2006. Exact date unknown.

The tooth fairy is just one of our many legendary heroes who bring joy and happiness to our children’s lives. We know how it goes, our children lose a tooth then they place it under their pillow for the tooth fairy. In exchange, the tooth fairy leaves a little trinket as a thank you. Back in the '90s this was not a big deal, but now it is costing parents a lot of money.

Back in the '90s, children were happy getting a quarter, or maybe even a dollar. Something very small that caused parents little strife and stress. I mean, we all have spare changing hanging around somewhere whether in the car or in the couch cushions. Now, children are given much more money and even gifts under their pillow. Children talk, and they go to school and say what the tooth fairy left them which causes parents trying to scramble and make sure their child is not left out.

2 It Took A Lot Less To Impress Children

We all think that advances in the world is always a good thing, how could it be bad? Well, because the world is so advanced now, it takes a lot to impress children. In the '90s, you just have your kid a piece of paper and a crayon and they were set. Or let them outside to run around and play and they were content for hours.

This just doesn’t work anymore. Children need much more to be impressed. The birthday/Christmas gifts are getting bigger and bigger. This could also be attributed to the need to one-up another parent and the marketing industry. Certain toys are always trending, and they are always the must-have toy at Christmas time. These toys also never come cheap, they usually have a hefty price tag that mom and dad must shell out to keep their little Sally or Joe happy.

1 You Played Outside … Alone!

Here is a big one. When you were a parent in the '90s and your children were going a bit crazy from being cooped up all day, you just opened the door and let them out. You told them to not talk to strangers and to come back when the sun started to go down for dinner. That was it, and the children always returned at the end of the day and they were happy.

Now, when children start to get a little bored, they are handed a snack or a tablet to entertain them. This is not bad or wrong, it is just the way our society is now. This is mostly since parents are unable to let their children our alone to play on the street or at the local park. They go with them, and it is a busy world for parents out there.

References: redbookmag.com

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