I love the 80’s. Even to this day, I still find myself thinking about how different life was back then. We didn’t worry about all the bullshit that we deal with now and it was truly a simpler time. And in my opinion, simple is good!
I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in the 80’s and have witnessed the cultural shifts taking a long, gradual shit on society over the last few decades. Obviously there is nothing I can do about the time period in which my children are raised, only how I raise them. I’m doing the best I can, but the times are changing, and not for the better.
Here are 13 reasons why I wish my kids grew up in the 80’s:
1) School violence.
Think about pre-Columbine. There was relatively little violence in school and school shootings were unheard of. Back in 1985 when I was in junior high school I remember the “big news” was a fist fight after school. No weapons, no permanent injuries, just two kids scrapping it out for a few minutes. It was over and that was it.
Parents didn’t have to worry about some sociopathic kid going on a rampage with an AK-47 or being brutally beaten by a gang. School bullying was a fraction of what it is today and although I was bullied throughout junior high, it wasn’t the same, evil cruelty we see today.
2) Freedom to be kids.
After my parents divorced in 1977, my younger brother and I spent each summer break in California with my father. We lived in NH with mom most of the year, but got to travel to sunny Los Angeles each June. My father worked at UCLA and every day we would ride into campus with him. After I turned 11 or 12, he would give us a few bucks for lunch and the arcade and tell us to check back in a few hours. And then he set us loose on the 400+acre, 30,000 student campus to have fun.
It was a different time, one that didn’t include fearing for your child’s safety 24/7 and where you weren’t constantly looking over your shoulder for fear of being kidnapped, raped, or both. Sure that shit happened, but today most parents struggle to let their kids out of their sites in public, and I’m one of them.
3) Playing outside.
Kids these days don’t give a shit about playing outside and creating their own fun. They want to sit inside and play on their iPad’s or PlayStation’s. When we were kids, we had the Atari, but it paled in comparison to hopping on our BMX bikes and riding until dark. With games like smear the queer (one kid with a football and everyone else trying to tackle him) and wiffle ball, there was always something to do.
Our electronic society has bred laziness on a grand scale and that’s just not good on any level.
4) Video games.
Do you remember when video games didn’t teach death and violence or have to have ratings on them? Remember when it was about a little orange alien named Q*bert hopping peacefully from one cube to the next?
It’s incredible to see games like Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto, and Gears of War being marketed to young children. They learn to shoot things, kill things, steal things, and break every law known to man. What happened to games like Pitfall, Missile Command, Mario Brothers and Mike Tyson’s Punchout? They were fun, kept our attention, and most importantly, didn’t teach us how to jack a vehicle or wipe out the human race.
Remember shows like Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy, Alf, and Family Ties? Good, clean entertainment. Today’s tv seems to want to push to see how far its language and content can go without crossing over into the next rating.
I’m about as liberal as they come, but I just don’t see the need for shows like South Park, Family Guy, Ren and Stimpy, and Johnny Bravo, that put negative images in our kids heads and teach them bad language. They’re going to learn soon enough, why make it any sooner?
6) No cell phones (unless you count this one!)
It’s rare to see a pre-teen or teen in the mall not puttering around on their iPhone these days. It’s taken over and texting (and sexting) is rampant. You and I didn’t grow up with cell phones, we didn’t have wireless, nor did we care. If someone wanted us, they called us on the rotary style phone and asked for us. So simple!
And while having a cell makes life a whole lot easier, who says life should be easier?
Just go to iTunes and look at the songs at the top of the charts. Most are about sex in some form or another. In the 80’s we had big hair metal bands, new wave bands, and light-hearted fun music. We had Come On Eileen, Jessie’s Girl, and Take On Me for God’s sake. Now THAT’S music! OK, so maybe they were talentless one hit wonders, but they were fun.
I don’t want my 9 year old hearing about one night stands, group sex, or pimping. Naturally I don’t allow them to listen to most pop and we have a nice collection of Kidz Bop music, but we can’t get away from it.
8) Bikes were cool.
Remember when having a cool, tricked out BMX bike was THE shit? The 80’s wouldn’t have been complete without our desire to do fancy tricks on our Haro, Hutch, and Diamondback freestyle bikes. I used to race my bike every other weekend at the track and although I royally sucked at it, I had fun.
And who can forget the movie Rad?? I think on some level, we all wanted to be Cru Jones. Not a bad aspiration given that many of today’s youth’s aspire to be thugs or gangsters.
Remember the days when sports were actually about sports and not about contracts, ego’s, and the big payday? I still remember that infamous Celtics team led by Bird, Parish, and DJ and their rivalry with Magic, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy and the Lakers.
I remember team basketball that taught good sportsmanship and fostered a team environment. It’s not the Kobe’s and LeBron’s scoring 70 or 80 points in a game to show off.
I want my kids to learn how to win and lose with grace. Just watch any NFL game and it’s hard to find either.
10) Card shows.
As a kid, I LOVED baseball card shows. I would bug the shit out of my mother to take me to card shows every weekend. We would drive me all over the place to find them and I would spend all day there looking for deals. It was a great hobby to have and forced me to use my bartering, budgeting, and negotiating skills.
It was a simple and harmless hobby that seems to be lost on today’s youth. It seems to be more about collecting naked pictures of classmates versus Ryan Zimmermann rookie cards these days.
And no self respecting kid would not have one of these bad boy card binders on hand at any given time!
Kids (and a lot of adults) these days have this shitty sense of entitlement; that mom and dad will pay for their stuff. I didn’t have that. We didn’t have much money and I started working at 15. I was making $3.85 an hour as a stock clerk at Marshall’s Dept store and distinctly remember saving for baseball cards.
I remember the rush I would get when I bought a box of unopened wax packs and my heart would race as I searched for those elusive Roger Clemens rookie cards! That rush wouldn’t have been there if mommy handed me $100 to go buy a bunch of stuff.
There is a lot to be learned from a hard day’s work and rest assured, my kids will find that out.
Back when I was in high school, it was actually OK not to have sex. I was out of high school before I ever had sex and nobody ever gave me a hard time. There was no peer pressure to do it and it came when I was ready (OK, so maybe I was ready before that, but couldn’t get laid!), but there was no pressure!!
It seems that kids are getting into it very early now and as a (very protective) father of two young daughters, I am fucking mortified at what is happening and what may lie in store for my girls. We can teach them only so much and at some point, their peers become a far greater influence on them than their parents. That scares me. A lot.
We’ve all heard about the sharp rise in childhood obesity over the last few decades. Actually childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
Why? Well for one thing, kids are FAR more inactive than we were. As kids, we would spent every possible moment outside playing. Now it seems like a chore to get our kids to go out and find something to do. It’s so much easier to sit on the couch and watch a Kindle than it is to round up a few friends and figure out what do do.
It also has to do with the ease of getting junk food, soda (in schools, really?!?), and fast food. Our lunches at school weren’t necessarily the healthiest, but they were OK. Kids now can get pizza, taco’s, burgers, fries, nachos, chicken nuggets,soda, and a whole host of processed and nutritionally void foods.
Embracing The Future
Like it or not, we are stuck with a generation of self entitled, spoiled brats and it’s on us as parents to steer them in the right directions. As single parent, our job is that much more challenging, but well worth the effort.
I’m a realist and fully understand the times we live in but every now and then, it’s nice to get all nostalgic and think about those rocking 80’s!