Let’s face it, the ’90s were basically like the Wild West of parenting. Technology was just revving up, kids still played outside, and being allergic to gluten was merely a figment of your imagination. The ’90s were a truly joyous time to be a kid, and you want to know why? Because there were things parents did in the ’90s that no parent would do today. Parents were less concerned about online dangers, food concerns, and all the other scary parts of raising a kid. And you know what? It meant that my childhood was epic, albeit a little dangerous.
Even watching my mother raise my brothers ten years later was a primer in just how different parents did things in the ’90s. And if things have changed this drastically in the past twenty years, I can only imagine what child rearing was like in the ’60s and ’70s. Children of the ’90s, I raise my Frutopia to you, and to your parents, for letting you come of age in a time that was less riddled with concern, and let you run barefoot down the street, play in flooded streets, and told you to walk it off when you stepped on a rusty nail. (Yeah, Dad. I’m looking at you.)
1. They Let Their Kids Play On Questionable Playground Equipment
A broken swing? Pshaw, you’re just not using your imagination hard enough. My parents were happy to let me climb all over a jungle gyms whose paint was peeling and pieces were falling apart any day of the week, as long as it tuckered me out by the end of the day. Those PlaySkool playgrounds were popular instruments of torture, too. Playgrounds, man.
2. They Went Without Cell Phones
If my mom was out to dinner with friends, I couldn’t call her and ask her where the mac and cheese was. I had to call the restaurant she was at and have them page her. No, I’m kidding. But seriously. Imagine not having a cell phone these days. Could you handle it?
3. They Let Kids Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup
Popsicles with real fruit in them were considered hippie snacks. If your freezy pops didn’t come in plastic tubes that gave you cuts on the sides of your mouth, you weren’t doing it right. Not to mention all the glorious after school concoctions the ’90s brought us. Gushers, anyone?
4. They Let Kids Eat Unwrapped Treats
What’s that? The bank is giving out pretzel rods? Mrs. Hammond on the corner’s giving out homemade cookies at Halloween? Go for it!
5. They Let Their Kids Ride In The Front Seat
I can recall many car rides where I couldn’t see over the dashboard, and I wasn’t in a car seat. Pretty sure now that’s illegal, and it may have been back then too. But hey, my mom lived on the edge.
6. They Left Their Kids In The Car
If your mom was running errands, there’s a good chance it was easier for her to bop in and out of stores without having to haul you everywhere. Naturally, she left you in the car. Now, you see a kid alone in the car and feel the need to call CPS. In the ’90s? It was par for the course.
7. They Let Kids Troll The Neighborhood Sans Supervision
You got free reign on the neighborhood as a kid. Climbing over fences, staying out until supper, aimlessly roaming your streets looking for something to do. And your mom rarely knew where you were. You knew to be home for dinner or face the wrath.
8. They Let Their Kids Walk Around Barefoot
I cannot tell you how much disgusting garbage my feet saw during that joyous decade. From mud and dirt to literal garbage and probably a few questionable items in between, I stubbed my toes and tripped over curbs without shoes on more times than I can count.
9. They Let Their Kids Set Up Shop On The Corner
Set up a lemonade stand and solicit strangers on the corner. That sounds like a great plan.
10. They Let 11 Year Olds Babysit
At 11, I was a Red Cross certified babysitter. 11-years-old?! I changed diapers, I took kids to swim practice — I was basically a member of the Baby-Sitter’s Club. I don’t think I’d let an 11 year old walk my dog, quite frankly.
11. They Let Kids Ride In The Back Of A Pickup Truck
No seatbelt? No problem.
12. They Let Their Kids Watch Cartoons That Weren’t Educational
Ren & Stimpy, anyone? (I actually hated that show more than life itself, but my dad was super into it.) Sailor Moon, though. That was quality cartoon programming that had absolutely nothing to do with education. No regrets.
13. They Let Their Kids Play With Questionable Toys
Did any of you find yourselves bruised and battered from the ridiculous toys of the ’90s? Skip It, you caused me so much pain. And yet, I still love you.
14. They Let Their Kids Loose On The Internet
Ah, the sweet sound of dial-up. Parental controls were practically non-existent in my days. Never mind the fact that I was attempting to cyber-stalk celebrities at age 10.
15. They Let Their Kids Stay Up Late To Watch “Adult” Shows
Staying up late to watch Friends was like, the ultimate reward. Now? If you let your children stay up to watch Scandal, you’re scarring them for life.