The Modern Family – part 2

Well I stirred up something of a hornet’s nest of agreement if that is possible. In fairness there was a suggestion that this could represent silence amongst friends. We only have a two dimensional representation of a moment in time to judge. We cannot know what the man was thinking nor why the children were absorbed in their tablets. We assume that they are playing games. Probably right but not necessarily. We rush to judgment.

Even if we are wrong in this instance it seems we all look back to an age before the advent of computer games and Play Stations. A link was made to broader social behaviours that once were the norm and now seem past. Giving up a seat to someone in greater need. Holding open doors. A broad sense of respect for others.

I wonder if each generation feels as we do. The Teddy Boys of the 50s, the Mods and Rockers of the 60s, the Clockwork Orange generation of the 70s and 80s, Punks and Skinheads, mohicans and Crombies. What did the 80s bring? No idea….. maybe the Beastie Boys and the obsession with stealing the VW badges.

I suspect however that a lot of skinheads went home to mum’s cooking and a family meal remained the norm. Getting high on fish fingers was about as far as it went for many. One thing that has changed in my view is the change from a stay-at-home mum to a two-working-parent family. Materialism has overtaken us. This is not a sexist view, I hope, it simply reflects the facts of the time. My mother looked after us at home until I was about seven and then she worked from 9am-4pm but ended up paying most of her wages in childcare. As I was always out playing sports it was a waste of money but in the 60s it was regarded as pretty safe for us to wander a mile up the road unaccompanied to the school playing fields or the meadows to kick a ball.

Someone mentioned over indulgence. Indeed the idea that you might have to wait for something today seems absurd. Credit is abundant (or was) and nobody worried about repaying. Get it on the never-never. Barclaycard used to send my parents unsolicited credit cards and they duly sent them back. No money, no buy. (Bob Marley?). Starting a home? How can you live without a fridge, freezer, washer, dryer, 2 cars, barbecue, 3 piece suite, hang-on-the-wall 46″ LCD TV and so on. Ask my grandparents. They did. Not even an inside lavatory until the late 60s. I am not suggesting we go back to those days. They were not better. Much harder. I simply illustrate that it is possible to survive without and to build a home over time.

Chores…….. yes or no? Well we received basic pocket money. If we wanted to more we could earn sixpence for washing the car or maybe 1/- for mowing the lawns. We washed up as part of the pocket money deal. We were taught to be polite and to give up our seat on a bus if someone needed it. Our games were Scalextric, train sets, Meccano, Lego  , Airfix kits and Dinky / Corgi toys. Yes we had a TV and generally we all watched together. Indeed, Val, the variety shows could be fairly dire but I still look back with nostalgia at The Good Old Days. We all watched The Lone Ranger, Morecambe and Wise, Dr. Who and alas, also Coronation Street (except my father, who sensibly refused and would go and play the piano rather than watch Ena, Minnie & Martha in the snug.) I am a veritable walking encyclopaedia on 1960s and 70s Corrie. Dear old Hilda.

And now we walk around, head down, checking FaceBook, sending e mails on the fly, playing games or reading blogs. Alessandro is right, most of us have succumbed in some way or another. All things in moderation though. Yvonne mentioned parental control, withdrawal of privileges. Kind firmness. What a splendid notion. Absolutely spot on. Kind firmness. So who is to blame? The parents or the children? There we are, each of us in our own corner of cyberspace, rarely fusing to form a true nuclear family unit. Its just the way it is. Does it have to be?

I saw a FB photo-post a few months back. It showed a pile of mobile phones in the middle of the restaurant table. The caption was “First one to check before we are finished pays the bill”. So I leave that as an idea for you. First one to check does the dishes. First one to check has pocket money deducted. 10% for a first offence. 25% for a second. Family meals might take on a different complexion.  First one to check has to watch Variety Bandbox. Instead of a Play Station bring back the I-Spy books. Kind firmness. Who knows, it may yet catch on. I am not holding my breath.




8 thoughts on “The Modern Family – part 2

  1. Wow. You need to start writing a text-based blog! Interesting that you get a lot of comments on a post that was primarily written rather than photographical. Sometimes – with the exception of the Vietnam photo of the burning kid – a photo isn’t always worth a thousand words unless it is exceptional.

    But I would say that.

    You had child care? Just gosh. Didn’t exist where I grew up. Apart from grandma. Materialism hasn’t overtaken us. Survival has. And greed.

    We went to a party once in Hemel (Hempstead), a former mate of my partner. They threw a housewarming and I was just stunned to see all the new furniture. Sofas still wrapped in plastic covering.

    You will be aware that I am not – hey big spender. (Got to get the songs and the Welsh linky in).

    A fridge yes. The freezer packed up so as it’s a dual unit there is no freezer. A washer. The dryer is my mum’s and 30 years old and needs a new fan belt. We’ve learned to work around the weather. Three Land Rovers. I fail on that one. No barbecue, although someone did give us one to assemble .. Three piece suite. Yeah. I grew up sleeping on it. It’s fifty years old at least. No TVs. We also have an outside toilet at the finca. My grandparents had them too. One of our posh neighbours in Newcastle was still using his in the 1990s.

    Were those times better or harder? I would say in many respects better. I would disagree they were harder. Just different.

    Pocket money? I got mine for nothing 🙂 Bus seats – I’ll say no more. I had Lego and Dinky/Corgi. I didn’t have Meccano 😦 but I did have girder and panel building set and became the world expert in cantilever construction.

    Some of us don’t check or even use FB. Or even send many emails. Only to a trusted few. I don’t play games. I do read blogs. Only the interesting ones.

    Kind firmness? Hmmm. I am so impressed with the way my university friends have brought up their children and similarly colleagues at work have too. They all treat their children with respect, give them time, and no harshness or punitive laws. I’m not into the discipline thing but that comes from a few slaps too many.

    I do however like I-Spy. I did get gold for the car number plates.

    • Child care was being looked after by a family friend. But she got paid for it! My last washing machine lasted 20 years but new ones have built in obsolescence. It’s identifiable by the label Made in China. I don’t play or even own any computer games. Amazing, I did car number plates too. Discipline does not have to mean slapping. Emphasis on kind in ‘kind firmness’ .

  2. I had a comment typed and decided it was too negative and I was sharing too much of my bad attitude today. Tough things in the air.
    This is a good topic with many good thoughts and experiences being shared. I’ve nothing of value to add but appreciate what I am learning about the participants here and feel in good company despite my curmudgeonliness (sp) today.

  3. Spot on, Andrew. You pretty much summed up my childhood except there was NO tv as it was banned in South Africa until after I finished Uni.

  4. I’m not convinced those were the good old days I’m afraid. My mum never worked outside the house (my father believed it was an insult to him if he ‘allowed’ her to do so) and my overriding memory of childhood is intense claustrophobia. I desperately remember long, boring ‘family meals’ where I had to sit in silence on my best behaviour for what felt like hours on end. Mobile computer games had been around when I was a kid.would have made my childhood a lot less boring.

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