As a child of the 80s, I remember when 7-Eleven wanted to open a store across the street from a school. The community believed that the invasion of the 7-Eleven would be a place kids would congregate and trouble would begin. Parents felt the neighborhood integrity should be protected. The parents arranged a protest and the 7-Eleven was built outside the residential neighborhood.
This event has stuck in my memory all these years later. Many parents were hyper vigilant about protecting children from heavy commercialization and corporate influence. During those years (Pre-Reagan) we also had ‘protected’ family TV time. Certain advertisers could not advertise on broadcast TV for fear it would negatively influence children. If you wanted exposure to corporate America you went to the local shopping mall. When that law changed it began to shift the whole culture to nothing being sacred anymore.
Parents during those years were often on the same team. A common goal existed among them: Let’s keep kids safe and free from prejudice. Let’s raise these kids in similar fashion so that they all learn the value of our character. Character was the currency during those years, working hard, being fair, honest, and truthful. When you made purchases it was often with a clear fair exchange at the corner store or the mall. Most families worked together to keep neighborhoods safe and sustainable. Parents had each other’s back for the most part and the rules were simple: Say please and thank you. Every dollar was accounted for. Teachers were generally the boss. And if someone looks older than you by a long shot, call them Mr. and Mrs.
Simple rules, simpler times.
In today’s social media craze and attention economy, many parents are left wondering how to take our kids back. What are the rules? How can we as parents get on the same team? Do we need to be on the same team? Empathically, I would shout as a parent: We are stronger together.