If you’re like me and you grew up in the ‘70s or before, you’ve probably said more than a few times that this world has become a bit overprotective of our children. You’ve probably also wondered how you got this far without dying.

We used to do a lot of stuff that would be considered ridiculously dangerous nowadays. And we did it with our parents’ approval, or even worse, their encouragement. But in all fairness, it was a different world back then, and our parents just didn’t know any better. Obviously, we’ve learned from our mistakes.

Let’s start with bicycles. We all had them. None of us wore helmets. In fact, I’m pretty sure they didn’t even make bike helmets when I was a kid. If they did and someone were to actually wear one, they would have been laughed out of the neighborhood. In the summer we would ride our bikes from the minute we walked out the door at 9am and be on them going to who knows where until we returned at dinnertime. No questions asked.

My friend Cathie loves to talk about her youth on Long Island. They used to ride their bikes into the fog of the insecticide that was being sprayed in their neighborhood while their parents sat back and laughed and smoked cigarettes. Yes, you read that correctly. They rode their bikes into the FOG OF INSECTICIDE. Ahh, those were the days.

Shall we move on to cars? Am I the only one who sat on Dad’s lap and got to steer the car? At five years old? I think not. I can’t remember having a car without seatbelts, but none of us wore them. Ever. Our family drove from New York to Florida and I sat on my mother’s lap in the front seat the whole way there. And I left teeth prints on the dashboard from when I fell asleep and my face rested on it. That’s pretty safe. NOT! And both of my parents were smokers. Imagine that, kids in a closed car filled with cigarette smoke. And that was not unusual.

Let’s talk about alcohol. Put some whiskey on their gums when they’re teething. Yup, they used to do that to BABIES! And all the parents I knew would let their kids take a little sip or taste of whatever they were drinking. I was so young the first time I took a sip of beer that I barely remember it. I was probably 5 or 6 years old. And when I was 12, my older brother got married. His best man got me drunk. Were my parents angry? Nope. They thought it was funny. Today that best man might have gone to jail for that.

Our parents didn’t mean any harm. It really was a different world back then. Make fun of today’s coddling attitude toward kids, but the truth is that parents unknowingly put their kids in danger everyday decades ago. Do we really want that for our kids? I loved my childhood, but looking back, I’m happy I made it through alive. Got a crazy story about what your parents let you do? I’d love to hear it.

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