Jump to content

Menu

When did parenting become a thing?


pinkmint
 Share

Recommended Posts

Obviously people have always been having children. But it seems like the notion of "parenting" as an endeavour, a calling, a philosophy etc, is kind of new.

 

Am I wrong?

 

It seems like generations past had kids, tried to keep them alive, taught them stuff etc but didn't think much about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think parenting became a vocation when it became somewhat optional instead of entirely incidental. Before widely available birth control, if you had women you had children. (What is missed in this popular theory is that even WITH widely available birth control, where you have women you have children!) But that's the mindset -- if you choose to bring children into this world, by God you'd better raise them the way society sees fit. Even though society can't decide on what's "fit" for 10 minutes running, you are expected to abide by society's judgment or you are Doing It Wrong.

 

But the judgment didn't really, hugely, transformatively ramp up to smack us all 24/7 until we got the Internet. It was just so much slower-paced and less effective (as a method to beat down mothers) for the gossip and condemnation to only occur in real time. I mean, it still existed. I remember when my adult children were babies; I think possibly people were MORE likely to just say it to your face if they thought you were tending/feeding/raising your kids wrong. But that's more useful, isn't it, because you actually see the person talking to you and can evaluate whether you care one iota about their opinion...for some reason, it's harder to be that objective when the judgment is pouring off the entire phalanx of social media.

  • Like 15
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems like generations past had kids, tried to keep them alive, taught them stuff etc but didn't think much about it.

 

I have actually talked to my parents about this very thing. They claim that they and their friends did not agonize over being parents the way people do now. They were not overly concerned with Ruining Their Kids' Fragile Little Psyches By Making Mistakes the way they perceive parents today are. They believe that parents today have a much more stressful time but that most of it is self-imposed. They never thought of parenting as a career.

 

I brought this up with them (separately, because they are divorced) because I was feeling very stressed about issues with my kids and wondered whether I was worrying too much.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I once read an article tracing the switch from the term "housewife" to "Stay at home parent".  Very interesting stuff.  I think it was around the 1960s or 70s when parenting books began to come out by the thousands.  Before that, homemaking and how to be a good housekeeper were much more the focus.   

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Parent Effectiveness Training from Dr. Gordon is one of the earliest social-science research-based parenting programs I'm aware of. It started in the early 1960s. It grew out of studying psychology and abused children and social scientists realizing the interplay of the environment's effects on children. People began studying parenting (authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, etc) and determining which produced the best outcomes for children. I believe PET was developed for at-risk parents as an intervention for abused children (if I'm remembering my child development course work correctly), but it spread to parents who appreciated research and wanted to do what's best for their kids. Then the self-help book boom and every idiot started writing books...

 

But parenting advice isn't anything new. It's in the Bible. It's in many ancient texts.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding what someone said about parenting advice being in the bible, I thought of that.

 

Seems like it was much more "big picture" though,no? Seems like there was a shift in the 1960's ish where it's gotten increasingly neurotic and obsessive about every small detail.

 

It does make sense that once parenthood became optional that it also became much less simple.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother, born in 1918, would have laughed so hard at this hyper parenting. She was of the mindset that kids should spend most of their free time outside without adult interference, help around the house and the farm, and show up for dinner on a regular basis. Beyond that, she wasn't a super involved parent.

 

Amazingly all three of her children are stable and well established adults with grandkids of their own now, and they loved her dearly. She gifted them with love and independence.

 

I think I'm more like her than I care to admit, which probably makes me a bad parent in the current culture.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was an article about this topic in the paper maybe six weeks ago.  It did basically correlate it to both birth control and acceptance of psychology.

 

I suspect those PBS tv shows on parenting that were on from the late 60's-early 80's was a big part of it, especially when combined with self-help books.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When people had enough free time to keep their kids safe, and see to their educations. This entirely related to relative wealth. If you literally toil all day, you basically have no choices beyond either set the kids loose or make them toil too.

 

Princes, for example, have always been micro-managed.

 

The housewife-to-stay at home mother change is compelling, for extreme recent history.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Books and articles about proper methods of childrearing have existed for hundreds of years.  I think the hyper-focus on childrearing grew from the post-WWII baby boom and repercussions of the impact such a large generation had on society. 

 

For example, early Gen-Xers were lost in the shadows of the boomers. They suffered the benign neglect of parents busy doing their own thing.  Many programs developed specifically for boomers disappeared just as the Gen-Xers became old enough to benefit from them. Feeling lack of attention as children, many Gen-Xers chose to be extremely involved parents. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a lot of it has to do with having the 'leisure time'  -- as we have more labor saving devices (washing machines, vaccuums, self-heating irons, even refrigerators which cut down on the amount of marketing a person needs to do, etc.) It became expected that spending time on/with the children would take a priority role. Also the rising levels of two-income homes led to the idea of 'quality time' etc.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When the cultural norm switched from women being out of the paid workforce regardless of whether they had kids to having to justify not being employed FT. So late '70's to early '80's. My mom did work part-time but it was more of a hobby (she wrote for the local weekly newspaper). Her "job" was raising us in a way that wasn't true for my grandmothers' generation.

 

My grandmas used to kick my parents, aunts, and uncles outside once they'd had their afterschool snack and tell them to not come back until supper. There were extracurriculars like sports/dance, music, and Scouts but the kids walked, rode their bikes, or took the bus. The moms were minimally involved and certainly didn't do things like travel long distances so that the child could participate in tournaments/competitions (maybe at the high school level but that would be school-sponsored).

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother, born in 1918, would have laughed so hard at this hyper parenting. She was of the mindset that kids should spend most of their free time outside without adult interference, help around the house and the farm, and show up for dinner on a regular basis. Beyond that, she wasn't a super involved parent.

 

Amazingly all three of her children are stable and well established adults with grandkids of their own now, and they loved her dearly. She gifted them with love and independence.

 

I think I'm more like her than I care to admit, which probably makes me a bad parent in the current culture.

 

I have observed this.   We aim to be free-range parents.  When we are observing from a distance in public, I have noticed approving looks from the elderly, and disapproving looks from those with young children.  Even small things like not swooping in when DD is grunting a bit trying to pick up something heavy.   Other parents disapprove of us waiting until she asks for help but the older generation approves.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother, born in 1918, would have laughed so hard at this hyper parenting. She was of the mindset that kids should spend most of their free time outside without adult interference, help around the house and the farm, and show up for dinner on a regular basis. Beyond that, she wasn't a super involved parent.

 

Amazingly all three of her children are stable and well established adults with grandkids of their own now, and they loved her dearly. She gifted them with love and independence.

 

I think I'm more like her than I care to admit, which probably makes me a bad parent in the current culture.

 

My grandmother is still alive and just shakes her head at the insanity.  Their generation didn't spend thousands per year on sports, extracurriculars, etc.  And spend every moment of free time shuttling their kids from one sport/activity to another.  Their kids wandered the woods all day without an adult.  My grandparents got married when she was 15, so they were teen parents with no money or resources/parental doting.  Their kids (my uncles) ended up being very successful career-wise.  One is head of nursing at a hospital and the other was a consultant for NASA. 

 

I am worried by how some parents are becoming so wrapped up in their kids' accomplishments that it's their entire identity.  I'm also worried there is an immense pressure for parents to be perfect and there is a ridiculous amount of pressure for parents to volunteer/help/participate in *everything*.  I'm thinking about sports/activities here, but people get mad when you don't answer their text messages within 20 seconds...or participate in every activity/event they offer...or force your kid to participate in something they don't want to...or hover around your kid at every practice/competition/etc.  

 

Just constant pressure, pressure, pressure from 3,000 different directions.  That's being a parent right now.

 

I consider myself a free-range parent, too - which means I've had to explain myself more than once to other parents.     

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I view it as institutional erosion. I don't want it to be my job to personally provide three nutritious meals, arrange adequate exercise and definitely not personally educate my children. But in the current situation I either have to pay vasts amount of money or do it myself, in order to ensure it is done somewhat adequately.

It is not like this in other countries I am familiar with (France and Japan come to mind). When I asked one mom whose child I was hosting (I host every summer)  what he was doing in math (so that he could continue doing it as per family wishes), she asked and forwarded me the teacher's message. I mean, it is not her job to be up on the math. I don't want it to be my job either.

Same with say, learning to swim, and adequate exercise. Schools do that. Do kids here have to pass swimming tests in school? No. If schools were better, I would love to not parent quite so intensely because there's no medals for this nonsense.

Edited by madteaparty
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it also became more of a "thing" when it was professionalized. Part of trying to get reasonable wages for child care providers has been framing them as "teachers", having professional associations, conferences, and more requirements for training and continuing education. But if the person who cares for your kids for a few hours a week has to have a degree, I think it's easy for parents to feel like they're not the expert on their own child anymore. (And I say this as someone who has said degrees and teaches college students who are getting said credential).

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by dmmetler
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it probably has its roots in the idea that a non-parent entity (the state etc.) might know better than the parents - or care more - in some cases, i.e., severe abuse / neglect.  Like many things, I think the fact that these ideas became the norm for even good, caring parents was an unintended side effect.  The pendulum swung way too far and now is hopefully swinging back again.

 

Now I would not say that there's anything new about judging parents individually.  I remember my mom doing it.  I'm sure people did it to my mom.  If you've read Bleak House, you have a very clear example of it from the mid-1850s, and many other classic novels make judgmental references about childrearing styles.  :)

 

At 13 my mom gave me an antique book she found at some thrift sale:  "Home Influence:  A Tale for Mothers and Daughters," a novel written in the 1830s.  I also remember Silas Marner, 1861, was somewhat focused on what makes a good dad.

 

So they didn't call it "parenting," and it wasn't something the state tried to control, but it was kind of a thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously people have always been having children. But it seems like the notion of "parenting" as an endeavour, a calling, a philosophy etc, is kind of new.

 

Am I wrong?

 

It seems like generations past had kids, tried to keep them alive, taught them stuff etc but didn't think much about it.

 

I haven't read a single response.  but my immediate response is that it became a "thing" about a hundred years ago, when youth culture became a thing.  That's when the culture that did a lot of jobs for us parents changed and became led by youth culture.  With that change came the "reinvention" of culture with every generation.

 

I recommended "Hold Onto Your Kids" by Gabor Mate and Gordon Neufeld if you haven't read it.  This book really helped me to grasp the role culture plays, and the role parents play as agents of that culture, in raising kids.  When our culture does not help us by providing a structure that protects children and family bonds, we parents are left as the "inventors" of a family culture that does those jobs.  Fighting the tide, and doing that job, is extraordinarily difficult. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm enjoying the book Understood Betsy with my kids, and it seems to resonate with them.  It does go against what many around them say.

 

I'm having a driver drive my 9yo kids between morning & afternoon day camps this week while I work.  There is about an hour of free time between the camps next week, and I told the driver she could drop them off at the [upscale suburban] library an hour early rather than hover over them.  She said, "I wouldn't want to leave them at the library alone, and I'm sure you wouldn't either."  I'm thinking, when I was 9yo there was no concept of "at the library alone."  That would be like saying today that I wouldn't want to send my 9yo on the school bus "alone."  Granted, there were things you didn't send your kids to alone.  A backpacking trip in a third world country, probably.  Then again, some would say it depended on the kid.  :P  Come to think of it, John Quincy Adams was kind of free range in Europe IIRC when he was still middle school age.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pretty much am in agreement with the others, it's a 20th century thing related to a lot of other social changes.

 

It has really ramped up since the early 90's, and I am sure the internet is part of that.  I have also though wondered if another aspect is a desire to justify, ususally by women, deciding to be a homemaker rather than a wage-earner or having a career.  It seems like my generation and some a little younger, compared to my parents generation, are a little less likely to accept their valuations around making money and career progression and women being independent.  I don't know if that comes from watching their own mothers or something else.  But I think many, trying to say - this is a good choice - find they feel they need to be doing something more active with their kids than the stay at home moms of earlier generations were.

 

It reminds me a bit of moms who say they are homeschooling pre-school - there is a cultural sene that by not going to preschool, the kids are missing something they need to develop, so the parents who chooses not to send the kids feel the need to replicate that at home (or at least tell people that they are so they will not think they are neglectful.).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its cultural. I hear it more from mothers who grew up with benign neglect and realize the benefits of being more involved.

That's interesting.  I was raised under benign neglect (not intentionally- had a chronically ill family member).  So I became involved. 

 

Of course, my kids long for benign neglect, about half the time.  ;)  Whatever you do, someone wants the opposite. 

 

I was actually quite adept at handling my own life growing up.  It made me very independent.  I was doing things like handling - and running -meetings with groups of doctors in my mid-teens.  No parent was involved in my college apps or decisions or anything. 

 

One of my kids really thinks all that would be awesome.  

Edited by TranquilMind
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother is still alive and just shakes her head at the insanity.  Their generation didn't spend thousands per year on sports, extracurriculars, etc.  And spend every moment of free time shuttling their kids from one sport/activity to another.  Their kids wandered the woods all day without an adult. 

 

My parents and their siblings got into elite universities (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, UC Berkeley, etc.) without anything more than just good standardized test scores, a strong GPA and class rank, and normal extracurriculars at the high school level. An applicant with their record today wouldn't.

 

It is insane but the parents are just reacting to how competitive college admissions have become.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mom was considered very strange in her Midwestern high school for wanting to attend UC Berkeley rather than the flagship state university or one of the close LAC's like Oberlin. Today it would be taken for granted that the top-ranked students in her alma mater would be applying to elite universities across the country. The admissions pool has been nationalized where it used to be highly regional.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother is still alive and just shakes her head at the insanity.  Their generation didn't spend thousands per year on sports, extracurriculars, etc.  And spend every moment of free time shuttling their kids from one sport/activity to another.  Their kids wandered the woods all day without an adult.  My grandparents got married when she was 15, so they were teen parents with no money or resources/parental doting.  Their kids (my uncles) ended up being very successful career-wise.  One is head of nursing at a hospital and the other was a consultant for NASA. 

 

I am worried by how some parents are becoming so wrapped up in their kids' accomplishments that it's their entire identity.  I'm also worried there is an immense pressure for parents to be perfect and there is a ridiculous amount of pressure for parents to volunteer/help/participate in *everything*.  I'm thinking about sports/activities here, but people get mad when you don't answer their text messages within 20 seconds...or participate in every activity/event they offer...or force your kid to participate in something they don't want to...or hover around your kid at every practice/competition/etc.  

 

Just constant pressure, pressure, pressure from 3,000 different directions.  That's being a parent right now.

 

I consider myself a free-range parent, too - which means I've had to explain myself more than once to other parents.     

 

You are right about the bolded.

I consider myself modified free range.  My kids joke that I'm fine with them being on another continent doing their own thing  (I let teens travel alone), but I'm up close and personal and management-intensive when they are home, probably because I need to feel needed.  That's probably really accurate.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suburban living comes into play too.  The suburbs have minimized physical labor and access to free, outdoor activities.  Add to that generations of women who have been told they need to, "meet their full potential" and mothering becomes extreme.  I grew up a farm where the amount of free time was reduced but running around outside around neighbors you knew and trusted factored in.  Perform! Perform! Perform! Wasn't drilled into my Baby Boomer parents' generation the way it is now.  If you weren't academically inclined there were other respected skilled labor jobs out there. Not so now. Most people consider skilled labor evidence of lack of intelligence or motivation-it was about preference and temperament.  Certain brands of feminism weren't telling women who stayed home they were failures because they weren't getting paid.  So the high stakes academics with high stakes sports/music lessons that are supposed to pay for college in the form of a scholarship weren't the goal. 

 

My middle daughter was a competitive archer with some real talent.  When you talk to people from the suburbs about that they almost always comment about how great it is because she might earn a scholarship with it.  Um, no.  Cornell was the only University that offered one scholarship one year she was in archery. If your goal is for your kid to earn a scholarship then sports is a really stupid choice.  Invest the time and money in math tutoring and the odds are much better they'll earn one.

Then there have been generations of "blame the mother" based psychology. Are there legitimate cases of serious problems from very bad mothering?  Sure, but that's a rare exception.  You wouldn't know it based on how you hear every failure or quirk blamed on a kid's parenting. When you believe you child's success rides on your performance as a parent, you're probably going to Perform! Perform! Perform!

Sadly, our society as a whole, has done a bad job raising women for generations now. We have so many adult females feeling just as much a compulsion to find out what everyone else is doing and comparing themselves to it that many haven't emotionally developed beyond Jr. High or Sr. High school.  It's truly tragic.  Now they have the internet to mainline their "Keeping Up With The Joneses" fix rather than focusing inwardly and asking themselves what they want and why and working on that.

It's the perfect storm.

 

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dad wandered the woods. He was expected to hunt, fish, and trap while he was out there as well as do his normal chores when he returned. His sisters did not wander the woods, they had other chores. They did not 'hang out' as teens, they had jobs. The skills they learned via their chores translated into being an asset on the job, as well as becoming an idependent adult.

 

My sons cant find a teen job. Even the farmer their dad worked for as a teen imports his labor now. The school district has contracted with the grocers for teens, so anyone not on the list has no chance at being hired. That means parents have to fill time... so if you dont have a skill for your kid to learn, the choice is wander or sports. In my day, one could study, but now with no books, if your parents cant afford DE or internet, you dont have many options but ojt on the streets.

Edited by Heigh Ho
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then there have been generations of "blame the mother" based psychology. Are there legitimate cases of serious problems from very bad mothering?  Sure, but that's a rare exception.  You wouldn't know it based on how you hear every failure or quirk blamed on a kid's parenting. When you believe you child's success rides on your performance as a parent, you're probably going to Perform! Perform! Perform!

 

 

True - for example, they used to say that autism was caused by coldness or other negative traits in the mother.  And there were all sorts of theories about how parenting causes homosexuality.  :/

 

I guess we have Freud to thank for much of that.  The whole "if you screw this up your kid will be a pervert ...."

 

I do think it's cultural too - in my early 20s, I met people from other countries that tend to accept differences as part of a person's nature.  For example, you can be an introvert (neutral label) vs. timid, unfriendly, awkward, back-office.  It was freeing to realize that I didn't have to be good at everything in order to be good enough.  I still make my kids do things they don't love, but it's more to show them that they can live through it when they need to.

Edited by SKL
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Somehow, I think it is tied to leisure, the cultural shift in the 60s and Dr. Benjamin Spock's popularization of socialogical work, and the dominance of the Youth Culture.  I won't be able to spit this out right away, but I'm going to mull on this today.  

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously people have always been having children. But it seems like the notion of "parenting" as an endeavour, a calling, a philosophy etc, is kind of new.

 

Am I wrong?

 

It seems like generations past had kids, tried to keep them alive, taught them stuff etc but didn't think much about it.

 

We learned a lot about children, about people, about psychology. We learned how to best bring them to adulthood, which is better than just keeping them alive IMO. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with what has been said so far, and also, I think fewer people now have grown up taking care of other kids, or even around flocks of kids of different ages, so there is less 'natural' knowledge of ages and stages and what is normal and reasonable to expect of children.  I'm really glad that we stumbled into a parent coop preschool where I was able to join a community of good, effective mothers and learn from them and with, but that's not an easy experience to find here in this area, and I think I would have been a much poorer and far more insecure mother without it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We learned a lot about children, about people, about psychology. We learned how to best bring them to adulthood, which is better than just keeping them alive IMO. 

 

I can't see any legitimate psychologists being in favor of "Tiger Parenting", but that's the cultural zeitgeist (or the sports equivalent of a "Tiger parent").

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A book entitled The Blessing of a B Minus wouldn't have gotten published, much less reviewed in the New York Times in past decades because getting a B- would've been seen as no big deal as opposed to some huge "failure" that is going to doom a teen. I was far more upset about getting B's in trigonometry/pre-calc my junior year of high school than my parents were. That would likely be very different today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the invention of parenting came about with the invention of childhood. So I'm going to say a slow movement from the Enlightenment onward and definitely something ensconced by the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of child wage labor.

 

I find it a little silly to think that parenting philosophies came about in the 1960's. I feel like some of these responses are mistaking a difference in parenting philosophy for a lack thereof. Seeing as childhood, as an institution, was well defined as a separate period of life by more than a century beforehand, I can promise you that people had philosophies of how to educate and deal with them.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it was when child labor became unacceptable -- non-working children created the concept of childhood, which ushered in the concept of parenting. In Curious and Diverting Journeys through the Whole Island of Great Britain, Daniel Defoe wrote that in the early 1700s, most children older than four were likely to be at work alongside their parents, or getting vocational training for work, such as at the school he visited where they were being taught to make "bone-lace", and also to read.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm enjoying the book Understood Betsy with my kids, and it seems to resonate with them.  It does go against what many around them say.

 

I'm having a driver drive my 9yo kids between morning & afternoon day camps this week while I work.  There is about an hour of free time between the camps next week, and I told the driver she could drop them off at the [upscale suburban] library an hour early rather than hover over them.  She said, "I wouldn't want to leave them at the library alone, and I'm sure you wouldn't either."  I'm thinking, when I was 9yo there was no concept of "at the library alone."  That would be like saying today that I wouldn't want to send my 9yo on the school bus "alone."  Granted, there were things you didn't send your kids to alone.  A backpacking trip in a third world country, probably.  Then again, some would say it depended on the kid.  :p  Come to think of it, John Quincy Adams was kind of free range in Europe IIRC when he was still middle school age.

 

Our libraries don't allow 9 year olds to be dropped off without an adult/guardian. The driver is being smart. The printed library policy says if a parent or guardian can't be located in the building, the library will call police. Too many kids were being dumped for the librarians and staff to babysit, which isn't their jobs. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our libraries don't allow 9 year olds to be dropped off without an adult/guardian. The driver is being smart. The printed library policy says if a parent or guardian can't be located in the building, the library will call police. Too many kids were being dumped for the librarians and staff to babysit, which isn't their jobs. 

 

To my DD's annoyance, while she, being over the age of 10, can go to our library by herself, she can't take DS with her. This annoyed her a lot this summer because she wanted to take him to the summer library programs. She has taken him to several free programs at the arts center right next to the library without a problem, but the library won't be flexible. I asked about it and the director of the children's library said that there had been too many incidents of older kids leaving younger ones unattended while they play on the computers.

 

My thought is, if they are doing that, then kick them out. Don't kick out MY kids who are behaving themselves, kwim? Much like they don't kick out all the homeless people, just the ones they catch making a mess of the bathroom or sleeping in the chairs.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother, born in 1918, would have laughed so hard at this hyper parenting. She was of the mindset that kids should spend most of their free time outside without adult interference, help around the house and the farm, and show up for dinner on a regular basis. Beyond that, she wasn't a super involved parent.

 

Amazingly all three of her children are stable and well established adults with grandkids of their own now, and they loved her dearly. She gifted them with love and independence.

 

I think I'm more like her than I care to admit, which probably makes me a bad parent in the current culture.

Just from the tiny sliver I know about you, no one could possibly describe you as a bad parent. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The OP asked when parenting became an endeavor. My grandmas obviously had kids, but they were "housewives" rather than SAHM's. They felt that homemaking was their "job", not raising kids. That changed between their generation and my mom's. Housework is obviously something that the SAHM's of my mom's generation did and ours do, but it's not the primary reason we're home like it was for my grandmas' generation. Parenting is the primary responsibility.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't read the whole thread, but my opinion is that today we are obsessed with identity.  There has to be some sense of pride that you can share (everywhere and to everyone) about the choices you've made with your life, including how you educate, feed, discipline--or not--your children.  It can seem sort of self-absorbed, but honestly I think it reflects an anxiety and uncertainty about doing things well/right/important more than anything else.  I look at younger parents today and cheer them on because they seem so much more intentional than other generations, but at the same time, they ascribe a sort of morality to their choices that is sort of over the top and in the end creates stress.  When I say that it's about identity, I'm thinking of how we introduce ourselves to others, how we present ourselves.  We talk about our mothering, our parenting a LOT...  Oh, and you WILL appreciate my life choices!!  LOL For goodness' sake, people are getting a sense of pride and identity from being vegan today and call themselves vegan whenever they get a chance.  It's vegetables.   :tongue_smilie:

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another factor is that there has been an incomplete but significant transition of homemaking skills and responsibilities outside of the home, so housework is not as much a job as it was 200 years ago.  So then the question becomes, can we ditch it altogether?  No?  But it's not enough for a full life.  So parts of it are expanded, more or less unconsciously.

 

I know some survival skills like weaving and knitting, and have a very clear idea of what it would take to process, spin, weave/knit, and handsew all of the clothing and bedding and other cloth necessities for a family.  Being able to delegate that to outside experts was a huge transition, and left a lot of freer time for instance.  Having said that, it also meant that an activity that could be combined with watching children, telling them stories, teaching them their ABCs, and teaching them useful life skills went out of the home, and so then the question becomes, can I leave, too?  Should I?  And yet there are still those lovely children, and they still need to be watched and loved and taught.  It's a conundrum.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our libraries don't allow 9 year olds to be dropped off without an adult/guardian. The driver is being smart. The printed library policy says if a parent or guardian can't be located in the building, the library will call police. Too many kids were being dumped for the librarians and staff to babysit, which isn't their jobs.

 

The NYPL does allow kids to be dropped off when parents feel they're ready, but they note on their website that the libraries have every right to kick out rowdy patrons, no matter what age they are, so if Mom and Dad don't want their little hellion roaming the streets they should definitely teach them how to behave at the library. (And also that sometimes libraries close early, etc.)

 

https://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/legal-notices/rules-and-regulations#children

 

In my experience, security only gets involved with unsupervised toddlers, and then only if they're about to plummet down the stairs or something. (That was a notable day. Turns out Mom had left the kid in care of the older sister, who had immediately left the kid's section to hang out with her friends in the teen section. We could hear Mom yelling at her older kid outside for 20 minutes after, and I don't blame her!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The idealised saintly mother ideal has been around for along time probably forever. I think we are seeing a mix of a few things now. One is a pushback against the parenting model of the previous generation where parents were supposed to do everything and babies had to slot neatly into everyone's life. Perfect houses, perfect appearances that didn't allow for much parent input into kids lives and required kids to fit in. Partly we now have psychology and researchers who study outcomes of various methods whereas before we only had opinions. Everyone could have opinions but they were just opinions without statistical evidence. Last but definitely not least is the Internet.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also think with a declining birth rate more hangs on the outcome for each individual child. It's seen in China and the one child policy but we are a little blind to the fact that exists within our culture. When an entire family branch ends up condensed into two or three little kids a lot seems to get placed on their shoulders

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I once read an article tracing the switch from the term "housewife" to "Stay at home parent". Very interesting stuff. I think it was around the 1960s or 70s when parenting books began to come out by the thousands. Before that, homemaking and how to be a good housekeeper were much more the focus.

As an aside I think many people my age actually struggle with homemaking in part because we spent a whole school life being trained for an academic career. In my mil generation there was still a significant amount of practical skills training in school (sewing etc). My generation didn't get much of that and school hours and homework grew to fill most of the day so there was little time for learning it from parents.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...