The good old days..

were they that great?

I have heard, and read in various forums, discussions, both in the real world and the virtual world about how things were much better ‘in our time’. And this is not from older people, but also people from across generations. Especially when it comes to parenting.

I have heard people talking about how when they were young, they would play happily with sticks and stones.. and the thing is, that children of today do the same. Just because they have a bunch of fancy toys does not mean that they do not play with things like that.  My daughter is perfectly happy playing with pieces of string, pens and pencils long past their lifetime, pieces of paper, packaging from her toys, a blanket to pretend that she is a princess.. Yes, she also has stuffed toys and fancy stuff, which are used too, but the basic imagination that a child has, remains intact. They just use different tools to fuel their imagination. Even things like the TV, can be used constructively or destructively. The other day, I was telling Poohi about the volcanic ash. We were watching the images of volcanic ash on TV. Later she  drew a volcano – big clouds of ash – that was what she understood from what she saw on TV. It is fascinating to see how much the children learn from every little thing. And children find fun and joy in little things that totally escape us. That part of childhood, I think, is the same, across generations.

Another thing which I have heard of, is a blanket statement of how parents these days pamper children and do not ‘guide’ them. I find that a little difficult to believe. I see fantastic examples of good parenting around me. Children who are well behaved and who know the difference between right and wrong. Of course there are badly behaved children too   that is true of every generation, isn’t it? Am sure all families have their black sheep(in every generation)!  The way I look at it, every generation has good and bad parents. One difference from the time I was growing up, is the economic conditions. Yes, my parents were not as well off, as we are today. But that does not automatically mean that my child will grow up spoilt. As far as I ensure that she knows the value of money, she knows that throwing a tantrum will not get her whatever she wants, and knows that good behaviour will be rewarded, she will get a good grounding in life. And haven’t we seen badly behaved spoilt children while we were growing up?

People talk about how things were ‘simpler’. We did not worry about things like child abuse. But really? Isn’t that simply a case of ignorance being bliss? Aren’t we better off knowing than living in ignorance.

I really feel that in a lot of scenarios, nostalgia has a way of brushing away the unpleasant parts. We do tend to forget a lot of things as we grow older and things appear rosier than they were.

Yes, we did not call our friends before dropping in, but then most of us did not have phones at that time to do so. Now that we do, we think it makes sense to check if somebody is around before dropping in.

Every generation makes it’s mistakes, it’s discoveries, and times change, times move on. The basic nature of people does not really change, or at least that is what I think. I know people say that people were not ‘materialistic’ then. But then it is all part of the times, isn’t it? Especially in a country like India, where all of us want a share of the pie. Where the motivation to do well in life is so high, because of the competition that forces us to perform.  The advance in technology and the changes that it brings, lifestyles change, attitudes change, and every generation moves with the times. An earlier generation made do with family and friends in the neighbourhood, we make do with family, friends in the neighbourhood,  virtual friends. Every generation works with the resources that are available  and within the constraints that exist. Some do a fantastic job, some do a mediocre job, and some fail…

43 thoughts on “The good old days..

    • Every generation works with the resources that are available and within the constraints that exist .. u said it all here I think 🙂 There’s something called adaptability and we ought to change with the changing times. Yes, kids nwadays speak abt cellphones and computers @ such an young age and we came to know abt them a lot later in life. That does make them pampered. Its the exposure. They see many things we hd nt even known abt @ their age and that makes them knowledgeable.

      Exactly, as far as we use what we have judiciously and teach our children to do the same – there is nothing wrong. The internet, for instance. It has so much to offer, but we have to use it the right way..

      Abt calling ppl, phones hv def. made our lives easier and we do call ppl in order to save our time and travel too .. but we did live even without them. So, its all about living life comfortably with what we hv around and making utmost use of them 🙂

      Nice post Smithu!
      Thanks Swaram.

      • Ya u r rt .. I hv seen many ppl complain that kids use internet so much and its nt gud! But, some of them really do a gr8 work with their projects etc.., thanks to the net.

        I know! It can be good or bad – it depends on how we use it, at the end of the day.

  1. Now finally someone with an interesting post today. What you say is so true. Comparisons are made with older times when life, as they say it, was a lot more simple and innocent. Kids did not know stuff they were not supposed to know. And what most grandparents (yes, most comparisons are from the grandparents) try to do is expect the same from today’s children. Which ofcourse is not possible. Kids today have exposure to a lot more information and it is natural for them to be beyond their age but that said, it is only on certain things. For instance, my 6 yr old nephew has an account on FB and logs onto YouTube to watch cartoons. Something like this is incomprehensible for many of us, let alone grandparents! But that does not mean he does not spend hours playing with his cars and creating imaginary scenarios in his mind, running around the house throwing the ball or riding his bicycle and playing with the neighbors kids.

    Every generation has its pros and cons. Parenting has not changed and nor has the values. Times have changed. And thus our approach has to change. And it has its advantages. I’m not saying our generation is right or our parenting is right. With greater knowledge and exposure comes greater risk. We cannot ignore that. We only know what our kids watch when they are in front of our eyes. What happens behind our backs? With the amount of content on internet or TV these days, there is a strong possibility that they know more than they can comprehend or understand. Knowing the fuck word is something else. Knowing what it means is completely different. Can we as parents regulate that? I don’t think so. If a 7 yr old comes home and starts using the F bombs, none of us will be amused. So every generation has its disadvantages as well.

    Absolutely! Every generation has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It is upto us as parents to balance out stuff, do the best that we can in every situation.

    Back when we were kids, poverty was a way of life. 8 on 10 people will second the statement that they had a stingy (read: poor) upbringing. Our parents did not have the kind of money we have. And thus our desire to dress them with designer labels gets misinterpreted as spoiling them. It could be true. But that is only if we don’t teach them the value of money. So on one end if I want to give my kid all the comforts that I can afford, I will ensure that he learns what it means, what it takes to get that and its value.

    Absolutely! As far as we are able to get them to understand the value of stuff, make them understand that things do not come for free..

    Kids will learn, see, play, love, hate what the times offer to them. Back in the 80s and 90s, jungle book was the only cartoon we saw, every Sunday morning. Today, we have 7 channels with cartoons 24/7. So does that mean my kid watches cartoons for an hour every Sunday morning? Ofcourse not. It wouldn’t be fair. But what I can do it is regulate the amount of time he watches cartoons. Likewise for all other things.

    Nothing had changed. Parenting was, is and will always remain parenting. Only our tools have changed. And we need to use them wisely.

    All I can say is that I agree with everything you say! ‘Only our tools have changed. And we need to use them wisely.’ – Absolutely! Love love love your comment, Masood!

  2. And that is an absolutely fantastic post!!!!! Well-said, Smitha. My two penny worth is that today, we just have more options. That does not mean kids are spoilt. Its like saying, we have a microwave to heat food, so women are spoilt because they don’t realise the value of heating food evenly and properly on a choolah ! Shucks.. that was an awful example wasnt it? LOL! Anyway, loved your post. Lots of hugs to little Poohi 🙂

    That is a very very relevant example! I have heard people actually say that! They claim that even things like the refrigerator has made our generation lazy 🙂

  3. With time and distance, it is a good thing that we only remember rosy things from our own childhoods…
    I do think that the good old days were really great, however I am loving the present and even more excited for the future.

    I am not saying that the good old days weren’t great – all I am saying is that while the old days were great, today is not bad either. All of us will be nostalgic about our childhood, about so many things in life, but it should be at the cost of ignoring today’s reality.. That’s all I mean 🙂

    The kids were doing good back then and even today. But the definitions of “good” are changing. Maybe back them, an A grade in studies was good enough. Now it is still that, but knowledge of computers, some sport certificates and medals/ participation in some extra curricular things.
    By no means, am I saying that’s a bad thing.. the playing field has changed. We all are evolving with it.

    yes definitely, the playing field has changed – no doubt about it.

    When people bring up the past, its to cherish it, and by doing that, they are not downplaying the present. They are just fond of their past, what made them who they are today. If they were not living in the present, I am sure, they’d be holed up in a cave somewhere!

    Where it is nostalgia, it is fine and wonderful – all of us do it, don’t we. The problem is when people refuse to accept that things have changed and what was relevant 2 decades ago, might not be relevant today – at least not in the same form..

    I like evolution, TV, gadgets in moderations, putting the right balance in kids, saying right and wrong… somethigns have changed, but somethings will remain consistent for a long time to come.

    Absolutely, some things do remain the same, despite all the changes.

  4. Trust you to come up with such posts..Loved this post smitha..

    🙂 Thanks Mystery 🙂

    I agree with you that back then, things were not as rosy as we feel now..its the nostalgic feelings that make them look even more wonderful…

    I am not saying that things were not good. It’s just that there are shades of grey and black at all times. you know..

    “That part of childhood, I think, is the same, across generations”.. In spite of some variations i too believe that it is same across several generations…

    Yes, that is what I believe too.

    “We did not worry about things like child abuse” – I do not think it was a case of ignorance. It is just that back then, even though the media had a wide coverage it restricted itself to few areas and now with increasing competition we hear more and more about such issues.

    Yes, of course. What I meant was when people today, say that it was better then, when we did not know of all this, I can’t agree. Ues, we did not have the media, and the kind of access to information that we have now, but the information that we have today, I believe makes things better, than worse.

    I also think that it all depends on parenting. it is up to the parent to teach the child what is good and what is bad and look to it that the child does not take the wrong path. This is more important in these days because of the relative ease with which they get to know many things…

    Absolutely. There are new challenges and new opportunities. And that will be true of every generation, wouldn’t it?

  5. Very valid and very well said. It is true that all kinds of parents, and all kinds of children have been there forever, a basic blanket statement about things is just stupid. Its only the tools, and expressions that are different, while the basics remain the same. Could not agree with you more.

    ‘Its only the tools, and expressions that are different, while the basics remain the same.’- Exactly my point.

  6. The best line I like in this post:

    ‘I really feel that in a lot of scenarios, nostalgia has a way of brushing away the unpleasant parts. We do tend to forget a lot of things as we grow older and things appear rosier than they were.’ This is very true. Though we say that everything was green green when we were young, we know at the bottom of our heart that that was not so. Even this generation will say the same statement after 30 years!

    I agree. All of us romanticize what we grew up with – and it is inevitable too.. Memories are so precious, aren’t they? As far as we are aware that every time has it’s own challenges and opportunities and everything new is not bad, it is really fine, isn’t it?

    ‘Every generation works with the resources that are available and within the constraints that exist. Some do a fantastic job, some do a mediocre job, and some fail…’ Yes, you are right, Smitha! The main difference between those days and the current days is – my mother had 5 children, I have two and you have one! Otherwise, nothing has changed!

    And ofcourse, the fact that we have lesser children have it’s own pro’s and cons..

    Now, the children are exposed to the happenings in the world very early in their life, thanks to the electronics advancement, so they learn things faster than our generation. Children are children even now, Smitha! Very good analysis!

    Thank you Sandhya, As usual, you are too kind 🙂

    • I agree with all that Sandhya has said about your post Smitha. The parts that she has highlighted.

      Nostalgia when it makes us completely blind is dangerous. When we refuse to accept that anything bad existed in ‘those’ times……that sounds absurd to me.

      ‘Nostalgia when it makes us completely blind is dangerous’ – Exactly my point, Indyeah. All of us will be nostalgic for the days gone by.. Especially when it involves our own childhood. But when it makes us blind, as you say, it is very dangerous.

      Nostalgia is overrated. We have to decide when we want to drown ourselves in it and how selectively we want to do so. 🙂

      Absolutely! I so agree.
      Each generation thinks it is doing a better job than the one before it.

      And that the future one is going to make a mess of things.

      Yes, That is true, and I think we have to remember that we all work with what we have, we may or may not be doing a better job.

      Its human nature I suppose.

      I get darn nostalgic about my growing up years. The childhood in the 80’s,90’s…. *sigh*

      Me too, but I don’t like to pretend that it was perfect and today is not, you know.

      Childhood holds special memories for most of us , hence the nostalgia I suppose.
      But saying that it was a perfect time to live in? More perfect or more better than this one?

      I agree!
      And yet all parents will inevitably say this at some point of their life.:)

      Hamaare samay mein toh

      I know! I am sure I will be doing the same 🙂

      On a lighter note,
      Bill Vaughn had this to say on nostalgia 🙂
      It’s never safe to be nostalgic about something until you’re absolutely certain there’s no chance of its coming back.

      @Masood agree with a lot of your points.

  7. Good post, Smitha. Really liked the way you’ve touched upon the parenting of then and now.

    Thanks Uma.

    I think everyone keeps comparing those days and now – the greatest factor being nostalgia – I do it every now and then. But its when ppl think that the past was better, it becomes a issue to talk abt.

    Yes, we all do compare and have bouts of nostalgia, but as you say, it is when it is the refusal to accept that every generation has/had their problems and their opportunities which is the issue.

    Like how we enjoyed our childhood climbing trees and playing on the roads and still remember them so vividly, our children too remember their fun time playing with barbies or playing lego or visiting a particular place.

    Yes, for our children, their childhood will be that magical place which they will always want to visit with nostalgia. Hopefully, they will have happy memories of their childhood, just as we have.

    This is how the human race is and the growth is required to sustain in today’s world. If every parent understands this, they will not hamper the personality growth of their kids.


    Really liked your post !!! My comment is going more lengthier – may be relevant for a post. 😉

    Love your comment – I love comments like this 🙂

  8. “Every generation makes it’s mistakes, it’s discoveries, and times change, times move on.” – very true.
    As many have said here, maybe nostalgia plays a big part. But one thing I always feel today’s kids are missing is the direct connect with nature and its elements. Their interaction with nature is mostly planned and not the kind of ‘let loose’ life we used to have. I really wish that my kids could also spend their holidays climbing trees, gathering mangoes, frolicking in the river, getting scolded by their grand parents. One factor could be that families themselves are so spread across the globe, co ordinating the holidays is a herculean task.
    Another factor is the disconnect with family other than immediate ones – when I say I know my grandfather’s second cousins and they know me equally well, people almost die of shock 🙂

    Yes, I agree – ‘today’s kids are missing is the direct connect with nature and its elements’. I am not saying that everything is perfect now. Yes, a lot of things have changed, but not everything is for the worse. Today, even if they had that type contact, we would still be hovering over them like helicopter parents 🙂

    As for knowing one’s family – I hope to ensure that daughter is as well connected, time will tell how much I will succeed.

    There I go, nostalgia all the way…maybe you have given me an idea for a post, Smitha. thanks a lot!

    Waiting for that post 🙂

  9. this kind of ‘long comment contest’ going on here ?? 🙂

    Yes, long comment contest – the longest comment wins 🙂

    I liked the way you’ve put the points across and how logically they have been proved. Yes, every generation has it’s share of good and bad things..and I think parenting has got more meaning now a days..since we’ve more read parents and more literature available across…

    I agree. We are more aware of a lot of things that previous generations were not. We have more resources at our disposal. Definitely.

    Also,comparisons why ? Only thing is kids these days learn new things fast because they’re being exposed to such environment..and that should be regarded as you make your children learn to use Internet or TV is in your you did with Poohie..She could very well watch a TV serial at this I’ve seen kids doing..that’s when the parenting comes into picture…and finally it’s about being aware which way your kids are moving…and where you want them to be…you give them grounds..they’ll play…you provide them only TV and nothing..they will only use that !

    I so agree! It all depends on the parenting. We can be responsible parents or irresponsible parents. ‘finally it’s about being aware which way your kids are moving…and where you want them to be…you give them grounds..they’ll play…you provide them only TV and nothing..they will only use that !’ – So true, Nu!!

    After all it’s been said: Kids are’s in your hands to mould them ! Likewise your future is in your hands…you make it or break it ! Be progressive or just sit and think about older times 🙂

    Absolutely! too with a long comment..kay baat hai..sangat ka asar 🙂

    Comments like this make my day 🙂

  10. 🙂 Enjoyed reading this post. Everyone of us, no matter which generation we belong to, has fond memories of our childhood and I am sure our kids will also be fondly nostalgic about theirs. Every childhood is different given the era and place it is in. Getting stuck at “back then it was better” isn’t a progressive mindset and doesn’t let many people embrace the positives of the newer times.

  11. You know you have a way of putting what everyone thinks into a simple no-nonsense post. There is nothing much I can add (sheeeeesh see how you have made me zip up my mouth?) 😯

    All I can say is that I am glad that I am a part of all the good times be it the 80’s, 90’s and this rocking century :mrgreen; (oops Smithu do you think I gave my age away?)

  12. Very rightly said Smitha.
    History always repeats itself. Kids shall remain kids no matter what we might claim to do or provide them with and their imagination is going to take off from the little joys of day to day life and simplest of things like the sticks & stones.

    Loved your take on the topic so many of us have marveled over some time or the other 😀 😀

  13. Totally agree with you Smitha.

    Infact I feel with better resources and better information about child psychology and development, in many ways interested parents are better equipped to support children who might need this. A child with ADD or dyslexia 50 years ago would have been simply considered spolit, today parents would have better access to information and guidance.

    I also feel a larger number of people are able to respect children and their feelings today. Even today one hears things like,”He is just a child, he doesn’t know what he wants.” But of course there were parents in every age who were great with kids – and they treated them like little people. 🙂

  14. True, Smitha…we all like to be nostalgic and our mothers even more. For sure, life has been much better now, but it has it’s good and bad effect. While life is much easier, it is also tougher, competition has made it so…perfection is what everyone aims for. While that in itself is not bad, it makes us all so much more focused on results while we forget the path that lead us to it. In earlier times, we had the time to sit and talk about that…while now noone has any time…
    Another aspect is commercialisation…did we have so many things that our kids have now? The choices that they are faced with each time of the day for every single thing they want… Of course, not and though even that is not ‘bad’ it does make us all a bit ‘material’ oriented…
    A good post..Smitha…makes you sit and think…

  15. Brilliant post, Smits.

    I agree with what you’ve said. I also liked what Bindu said. I dont think its fair to compare any two generations, Smits. Like you rightly said each one has its pros and cons. For eg, if the generation in which you and I grew up in gave us moments of climbing trees, getting dirty in the mud, playing in the street for endless hours, getting drenched in rains, etc. etc. which I genuinely feel Namnam is missing out on here, the one in which Namnu and Kunju are growing up has the technological advancement to boast of. I agree parents of the generations gone by were not as equipped as we are today and tomorrow when our children become parents, they will be more equipped than us. The key is to make optimum use of what we have to ensure our children get a balanced upbringing.

    Absolutely! Although I have to say, Poohi is lucky that her grandparents live in a place where she still gets to get close to nature:) But yes, I would probably be hovering over her all the time 🙂 Though she has the best time, with my dad when they go into the ‘thottam’ 🙂 But then again, their definition of fun might be totally different. Yes, all we can do is give them a balanced upbringing, make sure that they know how to judge right from wrong and let them make their own happy memories 🙂

    “I really feel that in a lot of scenarios, nostalgia has a way of brushing away the unpleasant parts.” Very well said! Its true we tend to brush the cons of the generation goneby under the safe carpet of nostalgia.

    Yes, it does happen, doesn’t it?

  16. Oh, I recently had this very same discussion with my uncle. He kept saying that he had more fun in his childhood than we or this generation had. I asked him to define fun and he kept quiet ! 😀 😀 😀 To each his own, the next generation would have a different concept of fun, memories and nostalgia !

    So true! Even definition of fun changes over time, doesn’t it? I am sure the next generation will have the same sort of nostalgia that we had for our childhood and our parents for theirs.

  17. Missed this post Smitha….

    thanks for pointing out that every generation has it’s plus and minus in a pleasant manner.. it does take away the guilt from some of us who lament that the present generation miss out on nature.. the only replacement now being Farmville 🙂

    LOL! Yes, farmville, indeed 🙂

    I think every generation gathers enough pleasant and unpleasant memories and does the same thing: tell their children of the good old days!

    and as parents we are all doing our best in the given circumstances..

    I know.. We do try our best.. in the given circumstances..

  18. Really true Smitha… when you say that the nostalgia factor takes away all our discomfort and make us to remember only the postivies… really true…

    Even I used to lament about how the streets are so still without boys playing cricket… maybe they would found their fun in PS2’s…

    But I feel these days few Parents are finding really difficult to say NO to their Childrens some unnecessary needs… they are trying to provide more than what their kid need which may make them vulnerable while stepping onto the real world…

  19. “The way I look at it, every generation has good and bad parents.” Good point but I think parenting and disciplining was easier with lot less distractions.

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