Recently, I was reading an old family scrapbook and came across a newspaper story about an accident I was in at age 13.

Recently, I was reading an old family scrapbook and came across a newspaper story about an accident I was in at age 13.

I was riding my bicycle on a major highway, going home after spending the afternoon at the local swimming pool. In those days there were only a few pools in the entire community.

I am still not certain how it happened, but a car hit me. Although my bicycle was totaled, I fortunately only had minor injuries. They were worrisome enough to require a trip to the hospital.

After reading the article, I wondered why my parents allowed me to ride my bicycle on a highway three miles from my home.

As I pondered this, I recalled, at that time, it was not unusual for children to ride their bicycles to the swimming pool. Today, most parents would not allow this to happen.

Child-rearing practices were different then and a recent article discussed why changes take place from one generation to another. As the article states, in my generation, parents had stricter rules at home than they did outside the home.

Some of the rules at home were, the child ate what was served, went to bed at a specific time, and did countless chores around the house. Conversely, the child was given more freedom outside the home because there was less traffic, fewer child abductions, and not as many places where the youngster could get into trouble.

According to the study, this philosophy was reversed in the next generation. Now, children have more restrictions on what they can do outside the home, but more freedom inside the home.

A good example is the number of chores children now do at home. They are few to none. If the child did the many chores we did when I was a youngster, there would be outcries of parental abuse.

The researchers explained one reason why the number of chores has decreased is because the amount of school work and extracurricular activities has increased, leaving little time for the child to do any household chores.

Another dramatic generational change is the communication between parent and child. In my generation, there was just one form of discussion - parent talking, child listening.

Today, not only are there two-way conversations but the children are more like lawyers the way they question their parents.

Some of these generational changes have been good, but some old-timers - certainly not me - question who rules the roost; parent or child?

Children should be allowed to express their opinions to their parents. But when the discussion is over, there can be only one final decision maker - the parent.

Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.