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Changing Times: 1970s Kids vs 2000s Kids Part 1


For those who were born in the 1970s, the best years of their lives (other than when your kids were born) would have been the 1980s, the year when we started schooling and also the year when we had the best music made – both Western and Tamil. Poster source:

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Let’s start off from the 1970s…

Being a parent to 2 generation Z kids, I am not sure if my parents had things easier raising us up from 1970s. Maybe we had become soft and more considerate in the new age. Or maybe due to change of lifestyle, new technology and access to better education, parenting had undergone a massive evolution. It is rare when one needs to take up the cane to instil fear into their kids nowadays (parents would be arrested for child abuse these days).

Yes, life very was tough back then – as my Dad was the only one working in the family & his job involves driving a tipper truck (and working in harsh environments), the family always short of money for fancy goods, our monthly sundry shopping can fit in a small box and we did not any good facilities back home but looking back now, we managed it through rather well.

At the start, we stayed in an one bed room rented house so this meant the whole family slept one room – one big bed for my Mum & my sister and a double deck bed where my Dad slept at the bottom deck & my brother and myself shared the top deck. Later we moved out to a 2 bedroom flats, my parents took up one room, the other bedroom was left to my sister and this room also doubled up as our study room & where we kept our clothes. Me and my brother had to sleep in the living room.

Discipline was very tight back then especially when it comes to education. We spent a lot of time studying than on playing games (this was scheduled and we suppose to be back by specific time) or watching the television. We are expected to get high marks (nothing below 95%) for all subjects for all exams. Exams were tough was not an excuse. My parents did not enough to buy books for revisions so we had to be creative by spending time at the library or borrowing revision books from friends or looking for second hand books from neighbours or family members.

At the end of the day, our parents (in fact most parents from this era) expect us to be one of these 3 profession – engineer, doctor or accountant/lawyer. You may get a cane on the back if you had said that you want to be a DJ or policeman or fireman or any job outside the 3 main categories.

Teachers were “Gods” back then and most parents trust them 101% and entrust them to teach their children to the best. If the teacher had complained about you or had punished you and your parents had known about it, then expect double punishment once you go back home.

Speaking about watching television, back then there was no remote control so we kids were the remote control for the parents. Sometimes there was even a small fight on who among the siblings will do the change of the channel. I only recall there were only 3-4 channels on the television so it was easier to turn the knob to changing the channels.

And when my Dad was in the house at night, he has the last say on what channels we would be watching for the night. No one argues. Watching TV was also heavily regulated – there were some time we can watch it and time it need to be switched off. A partial reason for this is to reduce the electricity bill and also to ensure we focussed on studying than watching TV.

When it comes for outdoor activities or hobbies, we did not have any gadgets or personal computers back then. When the kids wants to play games, it was always outdoor (except once me and my cousin played hockey inside the house and broke the cabinet glass screen!) and we often got out of the house at about 4 – 5 pm and back by 7 pm. On weekends, it can be longer where we had day long “gun fight” between the kids from my neighbourhood and the kids from the next neighbourhood. And all times, our parents will never keep an eye on us – the neighbourhood was safe and back then, there were no incidents of children going missing.

When some relatives come to the house for visit, we are often keep ourselves in the room and dare not venture into the living room where the adults are having their conversations. It is simply not a place for kids. Of course, this “rule” was not enforced at my Grandma’s house where we can just sit-in but quietly by the side and listen in to the adults’ conversation.

And perhaps because we did not live in any double storey house when we were small, it was easier for our parents to call us. There was no upstairs” to hide away. They only needed to call our names once and we will run to them without any delays. Sleeping time was heavily regulated – we need to go off to sleep early, no late watching television and even though the adults may be up awake, we are expected to be sleeping in our beds.

The same happens when it is time to get up – we had alarms (back then we had those clocks with huge bells) or had our parents to wake us up and there was no business of going back to bed once they had called us to wake up. We had to wake up early even on weekends and holidays and we had to make our beds ourselves – there will be inspections.

We rarely had outside food – everything is cooked at home. The main course of the day will be at dinner time after my Dad had come back from work and decides on what to cook. To avoid we kids from being very hungry whilst waiting for dinner to be ready, my Mum would ensure we have our tea break with biscuits & hot milk tea. Occasionally when my Dad was too tired to cook, we will be tasked to run to the nearest Chinese restaurant and pack fried Hokkien noodles.

Unlike these days, fast food was a luxury so much so we had it once a year IF my Dad did overtime working or did outstation trips. Our favourite is of course Kentucky Fried Chicken where 2 pieces of chicken were usually shared among the siblings (the parents would not have any). To keep us from fast food, my Dad did his best to have hot, delicious meals for dinner and once a month, we would have self-made fried chicken, many thanks to ready flour – a brand titled “Kentucky” that we found at the supermarket.

To be continued…

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