The 9 best lessons we learned from our moms in the '70s and '80s

With Mother's Day right around the corner, many of us on the TODAY Parenting Team remember our own childhoods in the 1970s and 1980s. A time when sandwiches were made on white bread (gluten wasn't yet the devil), Jazzercize was the fitness class du jour and any and all screens were left in the living room while we ran outside — often unsupervised.


For better or worse, we all survived and even took a few lessons from our '70s and '80s moms along the way. Here are nine of our favorite retro parenting lessons.

Have something to add about life lessons YOU learned from your mom? Join the discussion on the TODAY Parenting Team and share which "mom lessons" stuck with you.

1. My hippie mom taught me to appreciate nature. (Ashleigh Haslinger)

"To one hippie-dippie mom, nature is God’s greatest gift. This woman doesn’t take vacations, no, she takes field trips."

Courtesy of Ashleigh Haslinger
"Throughout her life, her greatest role has been that of free-spirit mama."

2. My mom raised us, she didn't "parent." (Jen Hatmaker)

"I was born in 1974, good readers. It no more occurred to my mom to coddle us Precious Snowflakes than it did to quit drinking a case of Tab a day."

3. Don't forget to play along — and that includes "mindless" video games. (Elizabeth Broadbent)

"We played Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda for hours. But what we liked better was watching our mom play. She was better at it."

4. She didn't need an '80s power suit to be powerful. (Nicole McGregor)

"For years, I believed my Mom was the one who was missing out. But now, all of the sudden, it occurred to me that maybe... she wasn't. Perhaps, the women with the shoulder pads were missing out more."

Courtesy of Nicole McGregor
"And while I yearned to have my Mom in those high powered suits and heels, they yearned to sit down on their own couch and have a conversation ... with their Mom."

5. I'm grateful I was shown the reality of the '70s. (Willie Geist)

"As a young social worker in 1970s Chicago, my mom would take me with her on eye-opening home visits to places like Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor Homes, considered some of the most dangerous, hopeless places in America."

Courtesy of Willie Geist
"She wanted me to know early on there was a big world beyond our leafy street, and that I’d be expected to reach out into it."

6. Picture the anti-helicopter mom. (Ashley Trexler)

"Two places you never saw my mom, unless she had no other choice: Sports practice and birthday parties."

7. Get in the pictures of your life — and relax. (Melissa Fenton)

"Her generation was not into structuring every second of her kid's days. No wonder there is an unhurried temperament in her expression."

Courtesy of Melissa Fenton
"In every single [photo], she looked beautiful. Relaxed. Un-anxious. Carefree. Where were all us kids? Well if I had to guess, we were playing somewhere down the street unsupervised. Did you hear that? UNSUPERVISED."

8. Let's hear it for '70s minimalism. (Ashleigh Haslinger)

"One should only ever have enough stuff to fill the back of an old El Camino. Enough said."

9. I thank my mom’s hard work ethic and lazy parenting style. (Ashley Trexler)

"Today, my mother’s voice of laid-back reason is the angel to my Millennial devil, often sitting on my shoulder whispering, 'Is this really a good idea, dear?'"