Two-thirds of parents agree kids have it much better today — but most still like their era more

NEW YORK — As a child, growing up and having freedom to do what you want seems so wonderful. Yet if time travel were possible, two in three Americans would transport themselves back to their childhoods (64%), according to a recent poll.

A recent survey of 2,000 parents of children in the U.S. between five and 18 asked them to reflect on their own childhoods. When it comes to what adults miss most about being a kid, above all, not surprisingly, are not having responsibilities (67%) and being stress-free (57%). Over half also miss their childhood friends (53%), having family gatherings (52%), and celebrating the holidays (52%).

What brings these parents back to their childhoods? The top three activities for respondents included watching favorite childhood movies and TV shows (65%), getting together for the holidays (51%), and hearing certain sounds, such as ice cream truck jingles (48%).

Conducted by Mini Brands Disney and OnePoll, the survey also found that 75 percent of parents often reminisce about their youth, while 90 percent have even shared stories about their childhood with their kids. Although 76 percent of parents consider their children to be mini versions of themselves, most of them credit their kids for making them better people (93%).

Additionally, two in three parents admit their kids’ childhoods have been much better than theirs (67%). That’s because they believe their children have more opportunities in life (65%), more access to technology (57%), and receive more affection than they did as kids (56%).

Childhood survey: What parents miss the most

Were things really better in the old days?

When reflecting on their youth, 83 percent are glad they grew up in the era they were born in. A similar percentage think growing up in this era is much harder now than when they were a child (81%).

“We see the trend for nostalgia in toys to be more important than ever before,” says Robbie Mercer, marketing manager at Mini Disney Brands, in a statement. “Parents are choosing toys for their kids that either they resonate with and remember playing with as kids, or want to find something that kids and parents can enjoy together.”

When it comes to the holidays, 70 percent share that they feel nostalgic when the winter holidays roll around. Parents say the mornings during the holidays are their favorite moments of the season since they see their kids play with their toys (60%), watch holiday movies together (50%), make brunch (46%), and sleep in (42%).


This year, parents plan to give their children clothes (74%), toys (55%), and electronics (52%) for the holidays. With toys being a popular gift item, 61 percent of parents are not ashamed to say their kids have better toys than they did growing up. Still, four in five parents prefer buying their children toys they used to play with growing up (38%).

“Today’s parents are seeking opportunities for more quality and meaningful time with their kids,” Mercer adds. “We believe in transcending generational gaps and allowing parents to forge their childhood nostalgia into new memories.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 parents of children 5 to 18 was commissioned by Disney Mini Brands between Nov. 11–15, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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