Parenting in the Age of GenX

Photo Source: Kim Diamond.

Kim Diamond – Ever had your mouth washed out with soap?

I did.

It was a bar of Ivory, and it was punishment for saying “sh*t” from the sidelines of my soccer game when I was about eight years old.

Ever been spanked with a board or a belt, or anything for that matter?

It was “the stick” at my house. Except it was actually a plank of wood.

Ever been threatened with damnation for listening to Iron Maiden or Metallica?

This was like everyone I knew as a kid!

If you answered “yes,” to any of these tortuous questions, there’s a pretty good chance you are a GenX-er like me. And, let me tell you, I am worlds away from the type of parent that would do any of those things.

Parents ruled with an iron fist when I was a kid.

The answer was always “no” – to everything.

“Can we get ice cream after dinner?” we asked, fearfully. “No!” was the reply – almost every time.

My parents weren’t monsters, but frugality was a serious thing. Going out to eat was a rare, special event.

Consequently, when I became a parent, I wanted to say “yes” to everything — especially ice cream, and my daughter knows it!

I definitely skirt the line between overly indulgent and simply permissive. But you know what? I don’t want my child to be afraid of me, like I was with my parents growing up.

If my child wants to play with ice cubes in her bath, that is fine by me. If she wants to run around naked all day and eat Takis in her bed, I’m cool with that.

My rules are few, but I stick to them for the most part. I am not fazed by the little things.

We GenX-ers learned to roll with things. I never knew what was coming at me, and I had to adapt.

Many of my friends were in the same situation, or they had total freedom as latch-key kids and then the hammer would drop after their parent(s) got home.

I may not be doing everything right. Actually, I’m sure I’m not. And I know Boomers did the best they could – I mean, probably, right? But looking back from the ripe age of forty-six those days of punishment first seem like the dark ages.

My parents see me with my daughter now, and I think the level of freedom I allow her makes them nuts. It makes me smirk and chuckle to think about. I’m in control now. In fact, there are so many more fun things to do as a kid now that my new philosophy is to do them with my daughter, who is ten.

It’s like I am reliving my own childhood, filling in the fun I didn’t have by going to the trampoline park, eating pizza on Fridays, and enjoying all the ice cream I want!

I want my daughter to feel safe to be herself. And I want her to enjoy being a kid. She has plenty of years of adulting ahead of her, so why not allow fun to rule the realm of childhood?


Kim Diamond was born in Baltimore, MD in 1976. Her family moved to Cedar Rapids, IA, when she was 2. Kim started writing when she was a child, but really became a devout poet when she attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. In 2000, after earning a BS in English and Performance Theatre with a Secondary Education Certificate, she returned to Iowa and taught high school for two years, before relocating to the DC area. While in DC, Kim’s creative ventures included writing poetry, completing NaNoWriMo, and performing as a lounge singer for the Golden Triangle Cabaret. She and her partner, Chris, settled back in Iowa in 2010 with the hopes of raising a family. Their daughter, Charlotte, was born in 2012. Kim has survived abuse and sexual assault, and in the last few years she has been recovering from long covid and a concussion that was so debilitating she needed to use a walker. In August 2022, she was able to return to work and is once again teaching high school English. Kim uses writing, and in particular poetry, to share these experiences and heal from them. She looks forward to sharing her unique voice with readers. You can find her on LinkedIn