Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice about Children

Alfred A. Knopf, 1 jan. 2003 - 450 pagina's
In this probing inquiry into America's preoccupation with raising children, Ann Hulbert blends biography and critical analysis to probe the personal dramas, the scientific claims, and the social visions of a succession of experts who during the twentieth century aimed to make a science of child rearing. She describes how these pediatricians and psychologists came to be popular advisers, and explores the origins and outcome of their ambitious quest to predict and perfect children's futures, and to solve the dilemmas of modern mothers and of families in flux.
The story unfolds like a curious--and often contentious--family saga, featuring an odd couple of presiding experts in each generation: one a stern father figure espousing a nurture-counts-most, "parent-centered" emphasis on discipline; the other a "child-centered" proponent of gentler bonding as a child's nature develops. They include turn-of-the-century pioneers L. Emmett Holt, whose precise infant-care regimens promised calm, healthy mothers as well as babies, and his counterpart, G. Stanley Hall, who "invented" adolescence as a special time of freedom and experimentation. Between the wars, the harsh behaviorist John Broadus Watson and the maturationist Arnold Gesell faced off with grander theories about children's personalities and maternal responsibilities. In the postwar era, Benjamin Spock, a genial Freudian intent on finessing debates between bonders and disciplinarians, soared to prominence--only to be confronted on the antiwar barricades by a fiercer Freudian, Bruno Bettelheim, and then attacked by feminists in the early 1970s.
As the millennium approached, a new host of advisers contended for primacy--from cognitiveexperts anxious to fine-tune children's intellectual growth to parenting-specialists-turned-public-advocates from the right and the left issuing manuals and social manifestos to combat what they saw as the erosion of morality and harmony in a family-unfriendly America.
Raising America is a provocative account of how a hundred years of expert advice clearly failed to ease modern child-raising anxieties. It makes clear that the advisers, with their shifting formulas and dogmas, in fact proved to be unnerving. Yet as their stories reveal, they have also been enlightening, holding up an intimate mirror to the rising social and psychological expectations and tensions of an unsettled century.

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RAISING AMERICA: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children

Gebruikersrecensie  - Kirkus

An unfailingly interesting study of a peculiarly American fixation: how to raise a child.All societies nurture their children, of course, and just about everyone worries about whether their offspring ... Volledige review lezen

Raising America: experts, parents, and a century of advice about children

Gebruikersrecensie  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Journalist and biographer Hulbert (The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford) draws on historical research to trace child-rearing advice from 1900 to the present. In lively and accessible ... Volledige review lezen

Overige edities - Alles weergeven

Over de auteur (2003)

Ann Hulbert is the author of The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford. Her articles and reviews have appeared in many places, including the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, and The New Republic, where she worked for many years as a senior editor. She graduated from Harvard and spent a year at Cambridge University. She lives with her husband and two children in Washington, D.C.

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