America’s Golden Years
By Pastor David Bowen
Standing Stones Community Church
Standing Stones Christian Academy
They say history is a great teacher. The 1950s is remembered as America’s Golden Years. It was the first full decade after World War II. America began to recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s and the war of the 1940s.
What was known as the “American Dream” was becoming attainable, as the typical family had the ability to purchase their own home with that proverbial white picket fence and in the drive was the family’s first car, probably a Ford or Chevy. It was a time when family didn’t stop at the front door, neighbors shared meals and were as close as any extended family could be, often being called “uncle” or “aunt”. The family dinner was enjoyed together, food was never wasted and after dinner, the kids were “tucked in”. It was the days of “Leave It to Beaver” and “I Love Lucy.”
According to FiftiesWeb.com, in 1950, men married at an average age of 22.8, while women married at an average age of 20.3 years. By 2000, the average age for men to marry was 26.8, and 25.1 for women. In the ’50s most households had just one TV and families gathered around it or the radio to enjoy an evening of entertainment. Kids in the ’50s weren’t off in their rooms playing video games or surfing the web on smartphones. Times change and technology advances, but I think many still desire the same outcome as parents did in America’s Golden Years.
Like parents then, parents today desire to raise kids who have learned to be productive adults. The art of parenting revolves around teaching a child to do things for themselves. This starts from toilet training to driving a car. The goal is keeping children on track and developing the gifts and talents God has given them. Doing so requires setting limits, such as restricting the amount of screen time and helping them stay focused on their own responsibilities, such as finishing homework. These are traits that hopefully carry over into adulthood because the alternative is kids who fail to learn from their mistakes and fail to become independent.
Recently, Purdue University did a study on the “state” of modern-day parenting. They broke the art of parenting down into four categories: secure, avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized. The secure child knows their parent will be there to support them. Sadly, an avoidant child has learned they can’t depend on their parents and feels they must care for themselves. An ambivalent child has parents who consistently do not meet their needs, and the child with disorganized attachments have been raised in an environment that is neglectful or even harmful.
Was it easier to raise kids in America’s Golden Years? Maybe. It was safer. It seems in the 1950s, parents were able to allow freedoms, such as a grade school-aged child being able to walk to school by themselves or riding their bike to their favorite park to play ball, trusting they will be home before dark. Times have changed and probably not for the better, but parents today still desire to see their kids be as successful, creative, have self-esteem, achieve independence and be a healthy and active member of their community. The simple lifestyle filled with family values and closeness is still very much achievable. Maybe today can be your family’s Golden Years!