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Parenting Harder Now?
Photo: Noriko Cooper
In this modern world we live in, It is harder than ever to be a parent. Everyone says that. But is it true?

Is it harder to be a parent today than it was two thousand years ago? Back then, kings could—and did—order every newborn slain. Cities were sacked during wars; famines and plagues were frequent visitors. The four horsemen rode regularly, and children were the easiest victims.

Okay, it is easier to be a parent in 2008 A.D. than it was in 33 A.D. But it was lots easier for parents in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than it is today, right? Not necessarily.

Until well into the twentieth century disease was a real threat to children. Is it easy to watch your children die of diphtheria, scarlet fever, or cholera? Horses spread tetanus—we had no vaccine for that until 1927. Antibiotics only became available in the 1940s. Until then, children—your children—could have died from a scraped knee that became infected.

Hunger was a problem, too. Most people were farmers a century ago. If your crops failed, you went hungry. If you lost that city job, your family went hungry. Few people starved to death in the United States, but childhood malnutrition left the Depression generation smaller than their parents or their children. Today, the biggest nutritional problem facing America’s poor is obesity.

Drugs and Terrorism

Parents worried about drug use and terrorism back then, too. Today’s illegal drugs—the big ones, like cocaine and heroin—already existed. They were even legal, at first. Patent medicines often contained unlabeled, addictive drugs. Alcohol and tobacco abuse was much greater. Both were more accessible to children back then—and more widely used by them.

Terrorists were then called anarchists. Their violence was just as random. There was also a stretch between 1950 and 1990 when it seemed we were twenty minutes away from nuclear annihilation.

Today, most parents raise their children free from hunger, free from the fear of death by disease, and in greater material comfort than at any time in history. Therein lies the problem. Parents today often fail the challenge of comfort and luxury. We willingly give our children everything—except our time and attention. Some parents get so caught up pursuing material goods and comfort that they have no time for their children. Both parents work, entrusting their children to hirelings during most of their children’s waking hours. When at home with their children, they still do not spend time with them. Children have their toys—parents have theirs. Parents spend time playing with their toys, instead of with their children.

In the "good old days" families stuck together, read together, played together, worshipped together, just to survive. The children grew up stronger for that shared time.

Is it harder to be a parent today? Not really. But parents find it harder to take the time to be a parent. I believe this is what makes raising children a greater challenge today.

Spend some quality time with your children or your grandchildren today.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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