The ’90s don’t seem like they were that long ago — until you look at photos of Justin Timberlake and remember the monstrous desktop computers that used to clog up half your living room. Parenting in the ’90s was simpler, but there were also telltale signs from the two Bills (Clinton and Gates) that things were about to get a whole lot more complicated.
The next time you find yourself knee-deep in parent shame over everything from your approach to discipline to taking Tylenol while pregnant, imagine yourself as a ’90s parent, and take these tips from the parents who got through the decade responsible for the Spice Girls, Tonya Harding, that blue dress and 30 different versions of Leonardo DiCaprio (from Growing Pains to Titanic).
Against your better judgment, you say yes to the laser school portrait background
Every ’90s child came home from school in September with three portrait background options: multicolored laser lights, fuchsia laser lights and autumn leaves. The adult in you — the one who knows about fickle trends and longs for a keepsake that will stand the test of time — begs: leaves, leaves, please Lord, leaves. As you circle “c,” your child throws himself on the floor and sobs uncontrollably about the injustice of not being able to pose in front of shooting lasers. Aaaaand… lasers win.
Ignore the healthy food
Toward the end of the ’90s, the crusade against genetically modified foods really started to heat up, and debates over whether school vending machines should sell sugary drinks became common discourse. But the early to mid-’90s was still a shitstorm of DunkAroos, Soda-Licious fruit snacks and pizza Lunchables. Parents thought about what their kids were consuming, but they also threw up their hands at that point when they realized their power to influence would never be as strong as Orbitz, a sugary drink that looked like a lava lamp.
Drive your kid to one sport a week — two if she’s training for the Olympics
Parents in the ’90s would never have dreamed of signing their kids up for 20 extracurricular activities — kids would have been lucky to find that many activities offered at their school. Furthermore, not every child qualified for the school’s dance, volleyball or baseball teams, and not seeing your name on a sheet posted in the hallway after auditions was just part of growing up. You joined ballet or gymnastics or basketball, and that was it. Truly talented unicorn children joined two teams — and memorized the bus schedule so they could take it home after practice.
Up next: Remember Kids?