Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children Hardcover – Apr 29 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
From Library Journal
Why a century of advice has failed.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
With painstaking detail and with considerable wit, Hulbert takes us through the century and helps us to see that parents have been anxious about how their kids would turn out for decades. She also shows that they frequently turn to the experts for guidance; experts who have an annoying habit of contradicting one another. Throughout the centry there has always been a "hard" approach to parenting advocated as well as a "soft" approach advocated usually by two separate experts. Many experts have, and continue to make exaggerated claims about the results of taking their advice. James Watson the famous behaviorist was the paragon of this sort of wild claim, deciding based on a few experiments with white furry things and a scared infant that he knew the secrets to take any sort of child and raise them for a career of his selection and with the character of his choice.
A century later, much is the same though there are some important differences. We continue to have an array of voices with a good deal of overlap as well as with a number of contradictions. The difference now perhaps is that there are approaches all along the continuum from soft to hard, rather than one or two at either end.Read more ›
Hulbert structures her history around five key parenting and family conferences, from 1899's National Congress of Mothers to 1997's Conference on Early Childhood Development and Learning, pausing in each case to reflect on the state of parenting philosophies and advice at the time. To further illustrate the evolution of expert advice on children, she profiles two key experts in each generation, each of whom falls into a distinct "camp." One exemplifies "child-centered" or "soft" parenting, a proponent of letting "nature take its course in childhood" and an advocate of parent-child bonding. The other, "parent-centered" expert instead advises strict discipline, believing in the power of parental nurture to shape child behavior for good or ill.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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
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