30 Ways Parenting Has Changed Since 1988

Here's what you, our readers, think! (Plus, read what our staff has to say!)
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Photo by gazanfer/Shuttestock.com

We asked you, our readers, to describe how parenting has changed since the first issue of Carolina Parent debuted in 1988. Here are 30 insightful answers, plus answers from (and 1988 photos of) our staff. It’s no surprise that the most common observations focus on technology and the digital revolution’s impact on parenting.

1.  Children now are attached to their phones. It’s much harder now for parents get kids playing outside or using their imaginations. — Maya Lindley, Carrboro

2. It’s harder to protect children from things you don’t necessarily want them to see.
Erin Holmes, Knightdale

3. I play podcasts for my kids instead of books on tape.
Khadijeh Zarafshar, Durham

4. Parents are now communicating with kids by text message and having to monitor their children’s social media accounts.
LaShonda Alston, Raleigh

5. Children are not as active. They spend more time on the couch playing video games than outside playing. So you have to become computer savy to keep up with them. 
Lisa Collins, Garner

6. There is more screen time and less family time. — Lekha Velamakanni, Raleigh

7. It’s easy to Google answers to questions about parenting. — Sarah Codd, Garner

8. Parents have discovered disciplinary alternatives to spanking children.
Kavitha Subramaniam, Raleigh

9. We used to ask our grandparents for advice on how to raise our children.
Aileen Plaza, Holly Springs

1O. Many parents are raising their kids far from grandparents and other extended family, which makes us rely more on neighbors and friends.
Marilyn Marrero, Cary

11. Car seat safety has improved; guidelines and products have come a long way in the past 30 years. — Kerry Meagher, Raleigh

12. Fathers are more involved in child rearing. This was just beginning in the ’70s and ’80s. — Lillian Spiller, Durham

13. Parents now have to watch their kids any time they are outdoors.
Melissa Merker, Apex

14.   There’s more competition to be Supermom and to show your kids achieving via social media, now that it exists.
Brandi Scammell, Hillsborough

15. Kids’ exposure to online bullying has required parents to teach kids about these things and to monitor their social media activity to make sure they are not being bullied — or bullying others.
Leann Simpson-Tarokh, Cary

16. Today’s families might look very different than the standard mom, dad and two children. Good parenting acknowledges this diversity and celebrates it.
Amy Wolz, Raleigh

17. There is more helicopter parenting.
Erin Rohrbach, Fuquay-Varina

18. There are more organized activities and more acceptance of dads as caregivers.
David Ropp, Chapel Hill

19.   There is more judgment now among moms. — Michelle Schoepper, Durham

20.   Parents used to have more time with their children to teach them life lessons at home. Also, nature and exploration was much more of a normal routine verses major family adventure.
Carrie Pickworth, Zebulon

21. Formula feeding has gotten so much easier. Powdered formula with bottled water means no boiling water, or bottles or plastic bags for the bottles. My goodness, I would have loved to have had it that easy.
Sandra Haefele, Roxboro

22. There is too much information on how to parent and, consequently, a loss of trusting parental instincts. Parents are looking to others — especially via social media — for advice. — Sarah Pearce, Raleigh

23. Kids are more outspoken and want to be heard. It’s our job as parents to hear them and have a conversation with them. They understand more and we talk to them like people and not babies.
Jennifer Faustino, Raleigh

24. There is more helicopter parenting.
Erin Rohrbach, Fuquay-Varina

25. The biggest difference between my childhood in 1988 and my preschoolers’ current childhood is the limitation of freedom to play and explore due to safety concerns in today’s society. — Chelsey Hernley, Raleigh

26. Our lives seem to revolve around activities, and some perceive you to be a “terrible” parent if your child isn’t in at least one sport/club/music lesson.
Sabrina Chatten, Raleigh

27. Lots of kids have food allergies, which didn’t seem like a concern when I was growing up. — Kim Gaetz, Raleigh

28. We feel the need to occupy a child’s every moment. There are academic pressures on children at a much younger age. — Kim Simmons, Raleigh

29. There are more expectations for kids to be compared to their peers, and more pressure on parents to do everything right. There are less expectations for kids to be independent. — Bianca Howard, Cary

30. Parents are much more involved in their kids’ intellectual growth.
Firuzan Ekinci-Cole, Raleigh

From the Carolina Parent Staff

Beth Shugg, editor

"I see many of today's parents turning to experts and social media connections for parenting advice. I believe, however, that when parents follow their instincts, they usually make the best decisions. No one knows your kid better than you do! One other big change: digital photography!"


Katie Reeves, Publisher

"Parents today have to be like the Secret Service. They have to stay five steps ahead of their children and anticipate their every move. Monitoring their safety is done on multiple levels in a world where communication becomes a weapon. Parents deserve more respect than ever for navigating the fast-forward of culture of the past 30 years."




Janice Lewine, Associate Editor

"Today’s kids are under enormous pressure — academic, social and extracurricular. Their childhoods are slipping away too quickly, and there’s less time to just be a kid and let life unfold at a normal pace. It pains me to see kids overwhelmed, unlike how we had it in the ’80s… We make family time a priority so we can enjoy the precious moments of childhood with them — before it’s too late."

Lauren Isaacs, Social Media Specialist

"Smartphones, tablets and other digital distractions have opened our world to a wealth of information and connections, but unfortunately they also pull time away from our families. It's a whole new management of my time that my parents never had to deal with."



Jen Pieh, Media Consultant

"Personal knowledge wasn't even questioned in the ’80s. With the invention of the internet, this new generation of parenting is armed with much more knowledge about medicine, growth charts and milestones their children should be hitting and when."


Sue Chen, Media Consultant

"Social media has made a big difference in parenting. It seem kids these days have so many distractions; they are on social media, mobile phones or other “screens” so much that it’s hard to get their full attention. It has made parenting more challenging, and harder to communicate with our children."


​Candi Griffin, Media Consultant

"Parents today seem more interested in documenting their child's life than enjoying it. Step away from social media and enjoy the moment!"



Sean Byrne, Art Director

"There's a diaper-changing station in the men's room. Progress!"


Categories: Family, Lifestyle, Parenting, Technology