10 Fun Things We Let Our Kids Do Because We Never Could

We all parent differently based on our own experiences, and the things we do as parents today might have a lot to do with what we missed out on as kids.

Published February 6, 2024
Happy family is having fun with golden retriever

As each generation grows up and has kids of their own, there are a lot of ways they tend to parent differently than their own moms or dads. As we compare parenting then versus parenting now, we might see patterns in what we weren't allowed to do as kids that are now the exact things we let our kids do.

Now that we're making the rules as parents, this is how some of us are changing things based on our own childhood experiences. 

1. Give Them the Dog They're Longing For

Is it possible that every child asked for a dog at some point while growing up? Some parents were all on board while others replied with a firm "no." If you longed for a dog (or any other pet) as a child and weren't allowed to have one, you might be more likely to let your little one have a barking best friend. Don't worry, we won't tell them you're doing it for your canine-loving inner child. 

Related: 10 Perfect Dog Breeds for Families

2. Let Them Have Freedom in Their Clothing Choices

Your parents may have let you choose your own outfits at some point, but maybe you yearned for that freedom long before they ever gave it to you. If so, you might find yourself asking your child what they want to wear each day or giving them creative freedom over their clothing choices most days.

Quick Tip

If you had little to no control over your haircuts growing up, you might let your own children choose their next hairstyle before you even take them to the salon. 

Related: 14 Things We Said We Would Never Do as Moms

3. Give Them All the Play-Doh

Your mom may have groaned every time you begged to break out the Play-Doh, but now you join your kids when they're feeling creative. You're a Play-Doh collector at this point and even encourage the crafty messes you were never allowed to make. 

Little Boy With Play Dough Fun

4. Let Them Sleep In on Weekends

If you grew up with a parent who believed in maintaining bedtimes and wake times on the weekends, you know all too well what it felt long to be up before your friends on Saturday mornings. You may have seen all the Saturday morning cartoons, but you missed your sleep. Now you let your little ones sleep in while you enjoy a little peace and quiet before they wake naturally. 

Quick Tip

Maybe you let your kiddos stay up later on weekends since you never knew what it felt like. It's okay to do whatever works for your family any day of the week. 

5. Enjoy That Raw Cookie Dough

Do you remember begging to lick the bowl when your mom baked? If you were never given the chance as a kid, you might let your own little one indulge from time to time. These days it's a lot easier and safer since there are plenty of edible raw cookie dough options that don't pose a health risk. 

6. Rethink Extracurriculars 

The way you view extracurricular activities might be based on how much they were or weren't a part of your childhood. If you grew up with a packed schedule and more activities than you preferred to participate in, you probably don't push your kids too hard to find an after-school hobby or sport.

If you grew up envying the kids who went to dance, music lessons, or softball practice, these days you might be encouraging your kiddos to invest their time in an activity that builds their character.

Related: It Was the 80s: How Parenting Was Different Decades Ago 

7. Let the Room Be a Mess

If you lived in a home with strict cleanliness rules, you likely never left your room very messy. But if those rules left you nervous to play with certain toys or held back your creativity, you might have an opposite approach with your own children.  You don't worry so much over whether or not their room is a mess, as long as they're having fun. 

Toddler playing amongst many toys in a messy room
Quick Tip

If you never had a say in the decor or color scheme of your room, you might give your own child free rein over the aesthetic in their bedroom. 

8. Let Them Tell Their Side of the Story

Parenting has changed a lot in the past few decades. Gentle parenting and authoritative parenting styles have given today's children some benefits that today's adults didn't have growing up.

Perhaps your parents approached kids with a "should be seen and not heard" philosophy so you were rarely able to tell your side of the story. This might be one reason you feel inclined to hear your child out when they've made a choice you don't like or have gotten themselves into some sort of trouble. You know what it's like to be shut down and that's not the sort of parent you want to be. 

9. Welcome Their Help In the Kitchen

For those of us who longed to help mom in the kitchen, this activity gives us all the feels these days. Maybe our moms were too busy trying to get dinner on the table fast or they just didn't want to spend time cleaning up after the disaster we would have surely created in the kitchen. If that was your experience growing up, you might invite your little one to help in the kitchen as often as you can now that you're making the rules (and the dinner). 

10. Wear the Makeup & Nail Polish 

You may have taken your first trip to Sephora when you started driving, but some of us were begging for Mom's makeup bag long before that. After being told "no" so often, we have no problem letting our tween and teen girls rock a little nail polish or a dusting of blush occasionally. 

Mom showing her makeup to her daughter

We're All Figuring It Out as We Go

In case you haven't heard, parenting isn't easy. Our parents didn't get everything perfectly right all the time and neither do we. We're all just people, who love our kids more than anything in the world, trying our best every single day. We may do things differently than our neighbors or even our own parents, but most of us just want to raise really awesome little humans. 

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10 Fun Things We Let Our Kids Do Because We Never Could