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Rather than a social history of how Americans have raised their children, Hulbert (The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford) offers an intellectual history of how children and parents have been studied in modern America. Here is the story of how Drs. Hall and Holt begat Drs. Gesell and Watson, who begat Dr. Spock and even Dr. Seuss, and how they in turn spawned an entire mini-industry of parenting experts. In spite of changes in terms or variations in thematic concerns, each generation of "experts" has been consistently bipolar, Hulbert finds: the "hard," parent-centered theorists fond of authority and discipline versus the "soft," child-centered theorists preaching love, bonding and liberty. With a flair for wordplay (paraphrasing Gesell's advice to parents to "walk-and speak-ever so softly, and carry a big chart") and a taste for irony (almost all the experts suffered from "mother's boy syndrome"), Hulbert documents the upbringings of the experts themselves, the fluctuations in their advice and the details of their downfalls. While few of these experts were as scientific as they claimed, they probably have managed to further parents' understanding of child development somewhat, admits Hulbert. The irony here-or perhaps it's a saving grace-is that parents, while eager for advice, rarely seem to have used it. This provocative and informative study is a model of lay scholarship. 15 photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Why a century of advice has failed.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Child development or "raising" is not something that is done either by child (The Nature) *alone*, or by parent (The Nurture/er) *alone*, we are just parts. Read morePublished on March 2 2004 by Sam
Our parent education book group agrees that advice-giving to parents has been complex and inconsistent. Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003
We have all been told how to feed a baby (on demand -- or by rigid schedule); how to ensure that an infant sleeps (let 'em cry it out -- or let the the baby sleep in your bed); how... Read morePublished on May 30 2003
As parents, we have all been told how to feed an infant; how to ensure he or she sleeps; how to discipline a toddler; and how to talk with and listen to our children. Read morePublished on May 30 2003
This book is a joy to read--funny, level-headed, full of great and sometimes damning stories about the men (and they're all men)who have, since the turn of the last century, been... Read morePublished on May 23 2003