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Parenting Through the Decades: Navigating Parenthood in the Groovy 70s

role of parents in a child’s life family of 4 walking on a beach towards the ocean at sundown with their backs to the camera Middle Class Dad

The 1970s was a time of societal shifts and cultural revolution, and this was reflected in the way parents raised their children. As the world evolved, so did the perspective of parenting, greatly affecting the way parents navigated through child rearing. 

Let’s take a nostalgic journey back to the groovy 70s and explore the unique parenting methods and challenges of parenting during this era.

Progressive and Relaxed Parenting Styles

The 1970s witnessed a shift towards more progressive and relaxed parenting styles. The previous era of rigid family structures and strict discipline gradually gave way to a more permissive and relaxed parenting approach. 

In fact, many parents in the 70s made an effort to be friends with their children rather than be seen as authoritarian figures. It was a time when parents tried to reach out to their children and be seen as an ally rather than a strict and rigid parent.

Emphasis on Individuality and Self-expression

One of the defining aspects of parenting in the groovy 70s was putting an importance on self-expression and individuality. 

As the counterculture movement gained momentum and changed the perspective of people, parents in the 1970s found themselves encouraging their children to embrace their uniqueness and express themselves freely. 

To say that the 70’s was an era of self-expression and individuality is clearly an understatement. The freedom of expressing one’s individuality was reflected in the way people dressed, with bright colored shirts, bell-bottom pants, tie-dye skirts, shiny disco suits, and long hair becoming iconic symbols of the era.

Education: Alternative Schools and Homeschooling

During this era, education also went through significant changes, with alternative schools and homeschooling gaining popularity as parents sought to offer a more holistic and personalized education for their children. 

This was also the time when parents were introduced to the Montessori method, which emphasized individual exploration and hands-on learning. This pivoting shift in educational philosophy aimed to nurture independence and creativity in children.

Feminist Movement and Its Impact on Parenting

The 70s saw the rise of the feminist movement, which had a significant impact on parenting. 

Mothers were encouraged to break away from traditional gender roles and pursue careers outside the home. This shift from the traditional parenting role of mothers made fathers play a more active role in parenting and household responsibilities. 

During this time, co-parenting became more common as couples shared not only parenting duties but decision-making in the household as well.

Challenges of Parents in the 1970s

Parenting in the 1970s was not all rainbows and butterflies. The decade was marked by rising divorce rates, economic uncertainty, and the changing dynamics of the traditional family unit. Couples struggled to find a balance between their own desires for personal fulfillment and providing stability and support for their children.

The good thing is, parents were more open to discussions about sexuality and birth control. However, the changing social norms also led to concerns regarding the exposure of children to explicit content and adult themes. 

Family Entertainment 

Television became a popular medium for family entertainment in the 1970s. Shows like “The Partridge Family,” “The Brady Bunch,” and “Sesame Street” captured the hearts of both children and parents. 

Watching TV shows together was one of the main sources of family entertainment that fostered togetherness and sparked meaningful conversations (and inside jokes) between parents and children. 

The television was also a source of iconic 70’s slang that became a part of history and pop culture.

Promoting Sustainable Living

The 70s also witnessed the rise in environmental consciousness, with the first Earth Day celebrated in 1970. 

Children were taught the importance of sustainable living and conservation. This focus on environmentalism became a strong foundation for instilling eco-conscious attitudes in children that continue to shape parenting today.

Parenting in the 1970s: A Balance of Structure and Freedom

In conclusion, parenting in the 70s can be encapsulated as a move towards self-expression, progressive values, and individuality. 

Parents aimed to strike a balance between providing freedom and structure, encouraging their children to explore their unique identities while still upholding moral values. 

The decade brought about changes in gender roles, education, and family dynamics. While navigating the challenges of the time, parents in the 1970s embraced a more permissive and open approach to raising their children. 

Today, we can look back at this grooving parenting era and appreciate how it has influenced modern parenting practices.


Jeff Campbell