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Cynique

Child Rearing - 1950s style

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Well, Troy, you asked me whether it was easier to raise kids 60 years ago than it is now, and - you know what happens when you pose a question to me…

Back then, kids were kids. Having a baby was just a routine part of life. You got married in your early twenties and in a couple of years started a family. Children were kept in perspective. You had em, you raised em and tried to teach em right from wrong. You often made sacrifices for them. If they were ambitious enough to want to go to college, you got a second job and sent them off to an institution of higher learning. You might have even exhausted your bank account to give your daughter a big wedding. Then, you cut them loose, dutifully assuring them that you’d always be there for them, hoping they didn’t take you up on the offer.

There may have been a lot of stay-at-home moms among white folks back in the 1950s, but once black moms got their kids in school they usually went out and found jobs in order to make ends meet or provide the little extras or to accumulate the savings necessary to buy a home. Under the watchful eyes of extended families, kids were expected to do their part by looking out for themselves as much as possible, and time spent with their parents was more about quality rather than quantity. Unless you had mental or emotional issues, you patiently played your role as an authority figure and your sullen children went along with your program until they were old enough to get out of the house and do their own thing, which may or may not have entailed becoming a black militant or a radical hippie.

As time passed, however, and prosperity boomed, and attitudes changed, there became an increasing tendency for folks to spoil their offspring, providing them with all of the things they had had to do without. And that’s how the trouble began. This sentiment gradually escalated to the point of children taking center stage as their doting parents over-indulged them, giving them an inflated sense of self-esteem, insulating them from the real world while America became a culture of child-worshippers. Women fell in love with their children, making them the center of their lives, many even neglecting their mates in the process.

Before long, as we know, babies became trophies and accessories! Having one was on every woman’s to-do list, - with or without a husband. Pregnancies reached fad proportions, - the naming of a child a project, the more unusual the choice the better. Leading the charge were celebrities showing off their baby bumps, giving boring details of breast feeding to talk show hosts. Black folks, especially those in the ghetto, were just as caught up in this as everybody else, the term “baby daddy” fast becoming co-opted by the mainstream.

And of course there was The Internet - the enabler of every bizarre facet reflected by today’s society.

Was it easier to raise a child in the 1950s than it is now? I think so. Why? the family dynamic has changed, and the pace of life quickened. Thanks to parents who got their priorities mixed, today’s children are the embodiment of an arrogant sense of entitlement. They merely tolerate adults and care little for what can be learned from the past. They are bored by current events and their attention span runs no longer than the time it takes for the next rapper’s album to drop, or the newest video game to go on sale Their heroes are millionaire sports jocks, their idols flash-in-the-pans musicians. The books they read are mostly limited to street-lit or vampire tales.

Of course these are generalizations and there are parents who are trying to provide their children with a good set of values but it’s hard for them to compete with FaceBook. Peer pressure reigns supreme and drugs are rampant. Raising a child in this environment is a monumental challenge.

Back in the day kids were not bombarded with media hype and had to rely more on their imaginations, something which stimulated their brains in a positive way, making them more curious about the world they lived in; always a good thing. Now, the idea of a good thing to today’s parents is to keep their daughters “off the pole” and their sons “off the pipe”.

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This is classic Cynique y'all!

Cynique with your permission I'd like to republish -- this is great.

"...hoping they didn’t take you up on the offer." HA, HA HA!

"The Internet - the enabler of every bizarre facet reflected by today’s society." - Deep!

I OFTEN think about the things I do for my children that they are unaware of and/or take for granted -- things that my parents would not have dreamed of doing for me.

I'm sure the kiddies benefited in some respects but I think they may have placed at a disadvantage in others. My kids have been to more places, acquired more processions and experiences by 16 than I did by 30 -- no exaggeration! Net-net this is a good thing. I'm fortunate I had the resources to provide this for them.

However part of me wonders how they will react when times are hard. Well they reflect on the good times, continue to work hard, confident things will improve; or will they fall apart unaccustomed to going without the luxuries to which they've become accustomed.

"children taking center stage as their doting parents over-indulged them" this seems so true -- especially in upper middle class families. Some of my buddies have given up their entire weekends shuttling kids from “play dates” to baseball practice to piano lessons.

They spend lavishly on sweet 16 parties, Christmas, vacations, camp, schools, cars, salons, clothing, etc.

But even lower middle class parent do the same thing spending a ton of money on sneakers ("tennis shoes" for you southerners), jewelry and clothing.

Speaking of sneakers I was a teenager when the real pressure to get the latest sneakers started. If you got the $100 Air Jordans you was the man! You could get by with Puma, Addias, Converse or maybe Pro-Keds -- anything less and you were the object of ridicule and scorn.

There was no surer indicator of how poor you were if you stepped outside with rockin' some no-name brand sneakers ("skippies").

The mentality persists into adulthood and the cycle continues...

...and we are seemingly becoming a nation of spoiled brats unable to instill discipline into our children -- because we never had it.

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Be my guest, Troy, if you want to "re-publish" my rant.

I love the responses my essays elicit from you. It's like I pass the baton to you, and you run the next leg of a relay that tracks the course of the black race.

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Guest Vicky

Love this post, which I found by accident. So very honest, which is refreshing. Especially when it comes to views on raising children, and we have all become so worried about saying the right thing.

:)

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Guest Vee

I have reposted this because it has been a topic in every group of peers I have encountered whatever the culture. We are coasting along in our 60s and 70s wondering what we did that could have saved us from the fractured situations we are putting up with.  We have also noted the spoiled in-law who thinks they should receive respect due to their standing in the family, not from any contributions offered.  I am not alarmed that my child is not married and procreating. I think I am less stressed than those with entitled children and equally spoiled grandchildren. 

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Fun to be reminded of what life was like in the 50s since today, June 9th, would've been my 60th wedding anniversary.  Rest in Peace, Babe.  We had it all.  :)

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What I didn't hear (actually "read"..lol) anyone mention is the ECONOMIC difference between the 50s and today and how blue-collar working class jobs paid far more when you adjust to the cost of living than they do today.
And that's if a Black person can even GET a blue collar job outside of going though a temp-agency.

Yes you got married in your early 20s, had children, and raised them.
But you could raise them and maintain a home because chances are that Black husband had a job (usually with benefits) that paid well enough that he could support himself AND his wife (whether she worked or not) and his children.

I can be corrected......
But it's my understanding that most Black men were able to earn enough money to provide atleast BASIC NECESSITIES for their families.
Now if the family wanted to get more of the "finer" things in life like new cars, bigger houses, televisions, ect....miss lady might fry up that hair practice up on her grammar and look for a part time job to bring in some extra money, but it's not my understanding that most Black wives who went to work in the 50s did so just to keep the lights on in the home.

Ofcourse much of it was cultural.
However Black people were able to live close to how White people lived in those days.
Now I it seems that MONEY more so than morals is the biggest determining factor as to whether or not one is able to maintain a traditional nuclear family.

Now I'm not naive into thinking the problems didn't exist in the Black family at that time.
A book I'm reading now about the relationship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X talks about how Muhammad Ali's father would get drunk and physically abuse him and his mother.

But atleast the economic situation was better off for MOST (not a gifted educated few) Blacks in those days than they are for most today.  There was a plentiful supply of good paying low skilled factory and other blue collar jobs for most Black men who lived in the city as well as plenty of farm land and agricultural jobs for Black men who still dwelt in the rural south.


I  believe the DE-INDUSTRIALIZATION of the United States is the single biggest factor that has contributed to the dissolution of the Black family today as compared to the 50s.

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In general, during the 50s black blue collar people and white blue collar ones were never on a par.  Everything that was skimpy about white people, was worse among blacks.  Middleclass blacks were not as well off as middle class whites.  Black children did not have the same privileges that their white counterparts did. Jobs were available  but promotions weren't so easy to come by because of racism in the work place. Benefits  on the job were not always free and houses were not that easy to get mortgages for. The 50s were, after all,  the era when the civil rights movement was fomenting.

Back then, what got black folks over was indeed their culture. They did their own thing within the confines of their communities and managed to find a way to survive and even enjoy themselves.        

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"They did their own thing within the confines of their communities and managed to find a way to survive and even enjoy themselves."

That is an interesting point Cynique, do you think this is true today?  It seems much of what we do is dependent upon folks outside the Black community--especially online, but increasingly off.

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Yes, times have changed, Troy.  And I can't add anything to what you've said about how it is now.  Blacks are not as self-sufficient as they used to be.  The more they become absorbed into the mainstream of the cyber world, the more their uniqueness is diluted in the real world. 

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