Back in the Day… We Didn’t Have Childproofing

I’m not against a certain amount of baby and childproofing. My husband and I engaged in the process, which was gaining in popularity when our daughter was born. That child is now a twenty-something and through the years I’ve seen childproofing progress to a cult-like ritual. Today, most new parents have childproofing down to a science. Childproofing paraphernalia has really become quite elaborate.

I’ve seen photos of Christmas trees with cellophane wrapped around the lights and decorations. Besides locks on cabinets and electrical socket covers, I’ve read about everything from toilet locks to removing all the door knobs in a home. (How even the adults are supposed to move freely from room to room, I’m not sure.)

It wasn’t always this way. Back in the day, we climbed up and down narrow, rickety stairs and bumped into sharp corners on a fairly regular basis. We drank out of open containers without pouring anything into a proper glass. We ran barefoot, we ran with the scissors, and we ran after each other at full speed through the house. We used the kitchen cabinets as a ladder to get the best snacks on the upper shelves. If there were seatbelts in the car, we used them to tie up our siblings hands so they’d stop bugging us on the way to Grandma’s house.

When we ventured out of our homes and vehicles, we found the outside world even more foreboding. We didn’t wear bicycle helmets or slather our bodies from head to toe with 100 proof sunscreen before daring to step foot from the already unsafe environment of our private domain.

Yeah, it’s a scary world out there, but the way some people baby and childproof their homes you’d think most living rooms are the equivalent of a Syrian mine field. It’s considered a grievous offense to even think of not protecting little Johnny from the slightest discomfort.

In spite of a lack of excessive childproofing in my generation I don’t think there were high childhood fatality rates and the population levels didn’t tumble. Or maybe our parents just had more kids back in the day, and so a few in each family were expendable. Whatever the real story is, we didn’t have much childproofing. I grew up during the time of open electrical outlets, pointy forks, poisonous cleaners, easy-to-open medicine bottles, and siblings who didn’t always have our best interests at heart.

But perhaps the tide is turning once again. The term “free range” parent is now used to describe parents who do what all parents did back in the day. Well, maybe they’re not quite that lax about the whole thing. After all, the way young children were allowed to roam and fend for themselves in the 70s and 80s can almost be compared to growing up in pioneer times compared to today. But some parents today are realizing the molly-coddling has gotten a bit out of hand. Another lesson learned from back in the day.


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