19 Signs You Were Raised by Really Old-School Parents

Growing up with parents who seem to be from the last century and not just the last generation can be challenging. They may have instilled solid morals and a strong work ethic, but their parenting style can seem strict and outdated compared to modern approaches. Here are 19 signs that you were raised by a ‘good old-fashioned’ set of parents.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

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Traditional parenting and behavioral correction involved physical punishment—sometimes with a cane, slipper, or other implement! Yet, the WHO asserts, “Corporal punishment increases children’s behavioral problems over time and has no positive outcomes.” Despite this, old-school parents often believed a firm hand was necessary to raise a respectful child.

Always Respect Your Elders

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Questioning an adult’s authority was simply not tolerated, prompting a stern parental look and a reminder to show respect to adults, no matter how rude or ridiculous they were! Deference to elders and good manners is something most Baby Boomers value, yet Millennials don’t always prioritize. The emphasis on unwavering respect for age (whether earned or not) is now waning.

Children Should Be Seen, Not Heard

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Expressing your opinions openly, especially if they differed from your parents’, might have gotten you in trouble. Children were expected to be quiet and well-behaved in adult company, and they certainly never partook in discussions about politics or religion. In comparison, modern parenting tends to respect young opinions and encourage more open communication.

The Importance of Like Skills

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Learning practical skills like fixing a leaky faucet, changing a tire, or mowing the lawn was prioritized in days past. Old-school parents often emphasized self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, harking back to times when such skills were vital, like during World War II. Indeed, studies show that children taught life skills beyond academia are better problem-solvers.

The Doctor Knows Best

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Traditional parents often placed absolute trust in their doctor’s opinion, never seeking second opinions or alternative therapies. This single-minded approach to healthcare may’ve been successful if the doctor was highly competent but didn’t leave much room for error. Forbes says this attitude can be tough to shake, with elderly parents often still trusting in a lifelong physician.

College Isn’t for Everyone

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The pressure to pursue higher education might not have been strong, with traditional parents also valuing trade schools, internships, and other vocational paths, which were seen as equally viable options for a successful future. This perspective likely stemmed from a time when manufacturing jobs were plentiful and skilled tradespeople were in high demand.

Discipline Through Hard Work

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Household chores, errands, and yard work were all standard tasks for children of old-school parents, and extra duties were also a common punishment for misbehavior. The idea was to instill discipline and the value of hard work. In contrast, modern parenting emphasizes positive reinforcement over punishment, and tends to allocate fewer chores to children.

“Go Outside and Play!”

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In traditional households, screen time was a limited privilege, not a daily right, and unstructured outdoor play was highly encouraged (just like in the good ‘ol days!) HealthyChildren.org states that such a philosophy has a significant benefit—outdoor play helps develop social skills, imagination, fitness, and curiosity.

Unforgiving of Mistakes

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If your parents had a “failure is not an option” mentality and punished mistakes severely, they were likely more old-fashioned than most. Giving up was frowned upon, mistakes weren’t tolerated, and ‘tough love’ was considered a good teaching tool. Modern parents tend to be ‘softer’ and more understanding, offering support without excessive judgment.

Boys Don’t Cry

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Male members of your family might have been shamed for openly expressing their emotions, especially sadness or vulnerability. Although all children were expected to be a lot tougher than modern parenting dictates, boys, in particular, were taught to be strong and resilient. Although common in days past, this approach to gender and expression can be harmful.

Please and Thank You

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Saying “please” and “thank you” was mandatory, and failing to do so likely got a stern look or a quick clip around the ear! Traditional parents expected their children to be respectful, use formal greetings, and follow social rules and etiquette. Although it may have seemed unnecessary at the time, being polite and well-mannered can be beneficial throughout a child’s lifetime.

The Importance of Saving

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The concept of ‘delayed reward’ and long-term goals was important, so old-school parents encouraged financial caution and saving money for the future. Frivolous or impulsive spending was discouraged, and children were often taught financial planning, budgeting, and thrifty lifestyle tricks. Studies show this approach produces adults with better financial skills.

Traditional Gender Roles

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Were household chores and responsibilities divided along traditional gender lines in your home? If mothers handled the cooking and cleaning while fathers took care of yard work and repairs, this indicates a traditional division of labor. Modern parents are more likely to encourage shared responsibility, regardless of gender, which can make children feel more equally valued.

Table Manners

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Proper etiquette at mealtimes was strictly enforced—reaching across people, speaking with your mouth full, putting your elbows on the table, or using your fingers were forbidden. Old-school parents had formal family dinners, typically at the same time each day. VeryWell Family says table manners are still an important lesson, even in today’s more casual dining settings.

Academic Subjects First

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While extracurricular activities weren’t discouraged, academics likely took priority. The focus was on core subjects like math and English, and academic achievement was seen as necessary for future success—even if college wasn’t! Today’s parents are more likely to see their child’s unique talents and equally encourage their passion for sports, arts, dance, or cookery.


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Did your parents frequently tell you to ‘go figure it out yourself’ or to ‘keep trying’? This more old-fashioned parenting style encouraged independence and problem-solving skills from a young age, but it could be frustrating for youngsters. Although the struggle may have been very ‘real,’ the benefits are worthwhile—independence, self-reliance, and resilience.

Face-to-Face Communication

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Traditional parents rejected texting and social media over more traditional communication methods, like phone calls, in-person conversations, and handwritten notes. While denying technology’s role in our modern world is futile, there is value in more traditional communication methods, like better social skills and improved empathy.

Privacy Was a Privilege, Not a Right

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Your parents might have felt entitled to know your whereabouts and activities at all times, even at an age when your friends were enjoying greater personal freedom. Trust had to be earned through consistently responsible behavior, and any adult privileges were swiftly revoked if you crossed a parental boundary, especially one related to safety.

The Importance of Family

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Family meals were regular occurrences, and spending quality time with extended family was a priority. You may have been forced to attend some distant, elderly relative’s birthday celebration over hanging out with your friends, and you were expected to maintain family bonds and traditions. Nowadays, the idea of family is more flexible and based on behavior rather than genetics!

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