5 Things We Used To Do That Modern Families Don’t Do Anymore 

Modern families today do not hold much resemblance to those of the 1950’s-1970’s; Mother frequently stayed at home raising children and looking after the home whilst father went to work. The children went to school and came home and played outside until dinner, once Father was home. The day’s activities were often mulled over dinner. Children were respectfully asked to leave the table when finished.

Weekends were usually spent outside – riding bikes, playing in the street, maybe some water play in the summer.  Oh how times have changed –  wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the simplicity of yester-year sometimes?

1) Watching TV Together:

Families watching tv together in 1970s

The influence that television once held over family life was enormous. Tv was a shared experience where the family gathered. It was a time for the family to share a laugh and a common interest. It was often a bonding experience if the entire family were fanatical about a show! Nowadays, shows are consumed far more often on personal streaming devices rather than on the family tv screen. It means that watching television within households is becoming a private, solitary activity.

Headphones are typically worn so the person watching really is in their own world. “Binge viewing” a tv series is common, so the actual watching hasn’t changed, its where and who with.

None of this will seem a surprise to parents – likely they have seen their children retreating into their own digital worlds. But what ramifications will this have in the future, if any? There is no doubt that a bonding experience is shared by watching a show which is enjoyed by all.  A common interest is being shared.

2) Eating Together

Eating a meal together was once the common thread in households across the world, however today’s families are eating together less and less. Thi is mainly due to work and after school activities.

A recent survey found that 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. They also consumed more key nutrients such as calcium, iron, and fiber. Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the survey’s lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School says that family dinners allow “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,”.

Families eating meals together in 1970s

Further research has shown that children are more open to new food choices when they are presented at the family dinner table. They get to see Mom and Dad eating wholesome foods and it becomes the “norm”.

Eating together usually involves a little of the follow up chores such as laying the table and doing the dishes. A study from the University of Minnesota showed that “children who were given chores at a young age (three to four) grew up to be more successful at work and less likely to use drugs”.

Its also a chance to teach children manners such as; asking to leave the table and how to place your cutlery after finishing the meal.

Obviously the conversation at a table is just as important as what is being eaten. It should be a place where conversation is focused on the people present and digital screens are not allowed.

3) Communication and Conversation

According to the Child development Institute there are many reasons why communicating and spending time together as a family (in person) is important:

  • Ultimately children model their own decision making skills and values on their parents. Therefore spending quality time together and communicating parental ethics is very important.
  • Children feel important and loved.
  • The family bond is strengthened the more time spent together .
  • Communication becomes more open and the child has a chance to voice their inner thoughts and feelings.

Often the table is the main place for catching up on the family’s day and gives a chance for everyone to express their concerns, hopes, dreams and “wins” of the day.  If families are no longer eating together, how are they communicating?

A study of 2,000 British parents commissioned by Toshiba revealed the following alarming statistics:In one year, the families studied sent to one another :

  • 1,768 texts
  • 520 e-mails
  • 468 social media messages
  • 68 hours on the phone

44 percent of those surveyed admitted calling their partner or children from within the same house, with 33 percent of that group said it was because they were too lazy to find them and talk to them.

Families texting on phone

40% of parents surveyed admitted that “they are more likely to communicate with their children via text or email than actually see them face-to-face.”

How did this come about? The increased use of technology among children has led to it being used as a communication and expression tool.

So what issues may arise because of this? Its no surprise that the younger generation’s exposure to technology has strengthened their expertise in this area and makes it difficult for parents to assume the role of teacher in their children’s use of technology.

Many parents therefore lack the authority to regulate its use. Children may develop a sense of superiority and a lack of respect for parents’ authority. This could result in children not listening to their parents’ guidance and limiting their use of technology.

4) Playing Together

Families playing together on beach

With the lack of “good” tv and luxury overseas vacations, there were optimum opportunities to play together as a family. If not only to relieve the boredom in the mid to late 20th century!

What happens when families play together? They begin to talk and laugh and lighten up. Family memories are created, jokes are shared, and team bonding is made. Lifelong memories are thus made.

Playing together is definitely a rarity nowadays and perhaps an activity reserved for vacations or “staycation”.

As the saying goes, “a family that plays together stays together”. So go on that bike ride, play ball or a game of cards!

5) Making Smores

Finally – the good old fashioned fire pit and roasting marshmallows is all less frequent nowadays. A common activity played out by families was making smores. It was a cheap “treat” and a chance to chat around the fire, sing songs and maybe tell scary stories. This all added to the ambiance of sitting around the fire pit. However, it’s hard to compete with the distractions of today – video games, social media, Netflix etc. Activities such as marshmallow roasting is becoming rare.

What are we missing out on? The camaraderie of being “with nature” as a family (even if it was just in the back yard)? Simply “being present” as a family together is something we so often do not experience anymore.

Spending time in your outdoor space shouldn’t be reserved for the kids – by creating an inviting area which will appeal to all the family will entice you to spend time together. Nowadays, outdoor spaces can resemble home resorts quite inexpensively and be the “social hub” of the home. Outdoor tv, speakers, the obligatory fire pit (which can even form part of the outdoor dining set), hammocks and outdoor heating all help create a space which the entire family will want to spend quality time in and create memories.

Kids making smores together