** The End of American Childhood by Paula Fass

 

The End of American Childhood: A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child is a scholarly review of chid-rearing practices in the United States that shows the evolution of the concept of children from hardworking additions to the household to today’s pampered and helicoptered  weaklings. It’s hard to believe that the Society for he Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in the late 19th century before anyone thought of doing something equivalent for children!

The author uses many stories from the childhoods of well-known historical figures to illustrate her points and it’s also interesting to see how the economic context shaped the changes in the lives  of children rather than any grand theory of child-rearing. That said, she has a long rant against modern books about child-rearing that accuses them (correctly) of not considering the historical perspective, a rant that seems irrelevant and needlessly petulant.

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