20th or 21st Century Living?

Every generation likes to look back on the “good old days”, but were days gone by really so much better than today, or do we reminisce wearing rose-tinted glasses?

Carefree Days

Many in the Spring Chicken Community look back on a carefree childhood, favouring the simpler life we lived in the 20th century over the fast-paced life of today:

We drew hopscotch on the pavement and spent hours playing outside. We also had a long rope and we’d skip in the street. This was the ’50s and ’60s – they were the best days.

Life was just so simple and people looked out for one another… Oh, how easy life was then.

Those who grew up in the ’40s also look back on happier times:

Respect was normal, manners were normal, and no health and safety to stop you taking chances! We didn’t wash our hands every five minutes because they were dirty, and we played on bomb sites finding all sorts of things we considered treasures… Oh, the good old times.

Of course, not everyone shares the same rosy view:

We also had diphtheria, polio and many other diseases. You need only watch ‘Call the Midwife’ to see the poverty that must have ground parents down. It may have been a happy and carefree time for children, but relentless drudgery for mums and dads – who also had to deal with infant mortality.

Life is Change

The fact that children grew up playing in bomb sites adds weight to the argument that adults living in those times were not sharing the same carefree life enjoyed by children. Life was hard, food was in short supply, and it took a make-do-and-mend attitude to simply survive.

Government statistics show that in 2010, over 34 million vehicles were on British roads. In 1950, there were just 4 million. This change alone steadily brought the days of playing in the street to an end.

Every generation has its good points and bad points. I was born in the early ’40s and loved my childhood, but I was lucky enough to go to The Festival of Britain in 1951 and I remember how we all looked forward to the future and a better life.

It’s often said that the only constant in life is change, and while we might look back on the good old days of playing outside with friends until our mums called us in for tea, was life really better back then, or was it simply better because we were children without a care in the world? What hard-working adult didn’t want an indoor toilet, bathroom, and a twin tub? What household with a coal fire and ice on the inside of the windows in winter didn’t aspire to have central heating?

Old-Fashioned Values

Many Spring Chicken Facebook followers comment on the sad state of the world today and the many ways that 21st century children are different to 20th century children, but isn’t it the nature of things that all parents want to give their children the things they didn’t have themselves?

The world changes, but people don’t have to, and it’s the responsibility of the adults in each decade to pass on the values that really matter in life.

My kids were born in the late ’80s and early ’90s and it was harder to let them play outside in the way I did, but they still turned out great! Good parenting produces good children – and adults!

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