Oh how we loathe when a conversation with our parents starts out with those four words. "When I was your age" or "Back when we were kids"...aggghhhh....I want to run and scream, "but it doesn't snow here and we don't live 7 miles from our school!"
Still, I find myself doing the EXACT same thing with my own kids. Funny how that works. I try to use different words as if that might make it seem better that I am making comparisons of their childhood to mine. It's still not flying even with the different words. They are definitely on to me.
When they complain that their TiVo stinks because they can only record one show while watching another I politely remind them that "back in the day, we had only three channels on a TV with an antenna made out of tin foil." When they complain about their veggies or dinners in general, I let them know that when I was younger we were always eating broccoli soup with noodles and were not allowed to complain or we would go hungry. "Mom, we need a new car with a better air conditioner" always emits the response, "Ask your uncles about our 1966 Dodge Dart with the crazy built in air conditioner called WIND coming from opened windows." "Can I get a fancier ipod?" follows up with "maybe I will get you an 8-track player and see how you like that fancy piece of machinery."
When I was a kid we didn't get shiny new bikes. If we wanted a bike we would find an old one from the woods or at the dump and take them home and paint them and make them new again. Our first cars certainly weren't anything remotely close to being new. My first "job" was at 10 years old when I used to do chores for my elderly next door neighbor. She was kind enough to pay me decently for doing all of those things around her house that she couldn't do.
We had a lot fewer materialistic things but I can tell you matter of factly that I coveted the things I owned because it usually took me so long to save up for them. Remember when those fancy multi-colored click pens came out (you could click from 4 colors and the circumference of the pen was so thick you could barely hold it)? I got one as a birthday present. My kids laugh at that kind of stuff but it was one of the few birthday presents I got as a child that I clearly remember. How bad could it have been. I certainly was not spoiled.
It's ok to remind our kids of the challenges of our generation just as our parents did with us. Just try to pick words other than "Back in the day" and you should be just fine.