Back in the 70s, I was a fairly progressive parent. I embraced Lamaze, La Leche League and Dr. Spock. I even made my own baby food. But in the time between parenting and grandparenting, I lost track of the trends. When I tuned in again, I found out just how much parenting has changed.
I'm not a grandmother who waxes nostalgic about the past. There was a lot of bad in the good old days. Some modern parenting trends baffle me, but I try to keep an open mind — which is even more important for grandparents than a closed mouth.
Here are a few parenting trends that I've puzzled over, and some that I really like.
1. Bump Shows
Remember our flow-y tops and tent dresses? Maternity clothes used to be all about covering up the belly. Today expectant moms proudly show off their bumps. It has taken me a while to get used to seeing stretchy tops that don't do a thing to hide a popped belly button. I have to admit, though, that it's healthy for women to be proud of their bumps rather than feeling that they are something to hide.
2. Boy or Girl?
Remember when a baby's gender was revealed in the delivery room? I do, too. I never had the option of learning whether I was going to have a boy or girl, and that still seems like the natural way. I was happy that my children chose to keep the gender of my grandchildren a secret, six out of seven times. One of my daughters, when asked what she was having, enjoyed replying in a conspiratorial whisper, “We think it's a baby.”
3. Gender Reveal Parties
Today almost everyone wants to know the sex of their baby as soon as possible, and gender reveal parties are all the rage. I have accepted that we'll never go back to the old ways. I'm even fine with gender reveal parties as long as they don't spoil the taste of the cake with too much blue or pink food coloring. Because, mmmm, cake.
When I was a mom, no one who was “expecting” traveled much. Even driving down a bumpy road was considered risky. Today expectant couples often plan a babymoon to enjoy special time together before everything gets hectic. As a lifelong travel nut, I understand this trend. Bon voyage to all those traveling with a bump! Just be sure to take your medical records along.
5. Babymoon No. 2
The term babymoon is alternatively used to mean a period immediately after a baby's birth, when the parents – and siblings, when they are on the scene -- get to know their baby. Usually, the parents put off visitors and try for a quiet, relaxing time as a family. That's fine with me, too, as long as they realize that grandmothers aren't visitors.
6. Push Presents
When I was a mom, sure, you were rewarded for giving birth — with a baby. And the fact that the gift sometimes indulged in projectile vomiting and explosive poo? That was just part of the package. Today many celebrities and ordinary moms get push presents as thank you's from their partners for the hard work of pregnancy and giving birth. It's not a bad idea. The push present should definitely fit the couple's pocketbook, though. Celebrities may get new cars and diamonds, but a silver locket or a spa pedicure is perfectly appropriate, too.
This is a trend I can wholeheartedly embrace. Most grandmothers remembers how hard it was to get things done with a baby who wanted to be held at all times. Today moms just wear their babies in a sling or pouch that leaves their hands free for other things. Of course, in many parts of the world, baby-wearing has been standard operating procedure for centuries. We can be a little slow to catch on.
8. Attachment Parenting
Lots of baby-wearers also embrace the trend known as attachment parenting, which means that parents and babies are seldom separated. In attachment parenting, moms breastfeed for extended periods of time. Children sometimes share their parents' bed, a practice now known as co-sleeping. Day care and babysitters are avoided as much as possible. In my day, we did all of this without the fancy name.
9. All-in Dads
In the category of positive changes, this is the very best one. I have known lots of fathers (including my own) who either refused to change dirty diapers or couldn't do it without gagging. Today's dads not only do diaper duty but also make lunches, fix ponytails and manage day-care drop-off. Are they equal partners? I'm not going there, but I will say that a huge, very welcome change has taken place.
I've seen lots of parenting trends come and go. The best parents, in my opinion, are those who strive to do a good job but who retain some flexibility. And a sense of humor is indispensable. Actually, that's not a bad formula for grandparenting, either.
I wonder if it's too late to ask for my push present.
This article was written by Susan Adcox, a writer specializing in generational issues. She is the author of Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild.