Child Rearing and Childhood

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Colin Heywood

Can there be a history of childhood? Until the late twentieth century most people apparently thought not. The temptation was always to think of childhood as a natural and universal phenomenon. The members of any society tend to consider their own particular arrangements for childhood as rooted in nature, having been steeped in them all their lives. At the same time it is easy to assume that the overriding influence on childhood will always be the biological immaturity of children. It will therefore be broadly similar in all societies and of limited interest to scholars. Some have even suggested that a male-dominated academic profession for decades contemptuously dismissed child rearing as beneath its dignity, a humdrum matter left to wives and mothers. Historians face the additional problem of assembling evidence on a section of society little seen and almost never heard in the surviving documentation. Not surprisingly, as late as the 1950s the history of childhood could be described as almost virgin territory. An extensive literature addresses child welfare, outlining the efforts of philanthropists, charities, and above all the state in this sphere. Such an approach, however, has done little to show how people conceptualized childhood as a distinct stage of life and even less to illuminate the experiences of children themselves.

Two developments in historiography have brought the subjects of childhood and children more firmly into focus. First, historians and social scientists in general grasped the important cultural dimensions of childhood. Far from a natural and universal model of childhood, each society, each class, perhaps even each family constructs its own image of the child. Some, for example, consider children naturally depraved from birth, and others see them as naturally innocent. The physical immaturity of children is undeniable, of course, but it is no longer considered a determining influence. As the sociologists Allison James and Alan Prout wrote, "The immaturity of children is a biological fact of life but the ways in which this immaturity is understood and made meaningful is a fact of culture" ( James and Prout, 1990, p. 7). Second, a number of researchers set out to recover the experience of growing up in various social and geographical settings in the past. In so doing they reacted against the older habit of depicting young people as putty in the hands of adults, with all the emphasis on development and socialization. Instead they looked for the ways in which children have been active in carving out their own place in the world, noting their interactions with parents and other forms of authority. Locating and interpreting sources in this area poses problems. It is not hard to find examples of manuals giving advice to parents on how to raise their offspring, but whether anyone took any notice of them is another matter. Members of the educated elite may have left traces of their feelings for their children in diaries and autobiographies, but how the mass of peasants and laborers felt must remain largely a matter of conjecture. Nonetheless, the basis exists for understanding social constructions of childhood in the past and for what might be called a social history of children.


Philippe Ariès and the "discovery" of childhood. In 1960, with his Centuries of Childhood, Philippe Ariès launched the history of childhood with a bang. Ariès made the striking assertion that "in medieval society the idea of childhood did not exist." By this he did not mean that people had no affection for children, but rather that they lacked "an awareness of the particular nature of childhood, that particular nature which distinguishes the child from the adult, even the young adult" (Ariès, 1996, p. 125). The result was that medieval civilization failed to perceive a transitionary period between infancy and adulthood. Around the age of five or seven, as soon as they could survive without the constant attention of their mothers, the young were launched into the world of adults. They joined in the games and pastimes going on around them and learned their trades working beside fully trained practitioners. Children were simply thought of as miniature adults.

The "discovery" of childhood had to await the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. Ariès discerned two phases in this process. To begin with, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries women looking after children took the initiative by treating them as a source of amusement and relaxation, delighting in their "sweetness, simplicity and drollery" (Ariès, 1996, p. 126). Ariès conceded that "mothers, nannies and cradle-rockers" (p. 125) must have always found the little antics of children touching, but he suggested that they had hesitated to express their feelings. The second, and for Ariès more significant stage, began in the seventeenth century. At this point reformers replaced the "coddling" of children with "psychological interest and moral solicitude" (p. 128). A small group of lawyers, priests, and moralists came to recognize the innocence and weakness of childhood. Gradually, starting with the middle classes, these reformers imposed the notion that children needed special treatment, "a sort of quarantine" (p. 396) before they were ready to join the world of adults. What Ariès envisaged, therefore, was a huge shift in the cultural sphere, attributable to the growing influence of Christianity and a new respect for education.

Moving on from Ariès. Like many other pioneers, Ariès found his work at once praised for its originality and sniped at on all sides by the next generation of researchers. Few historians after Ariès accepted that there was a complete absence of any consciousness of childhood in medieval civilization. Certainly medieval authors did have a tendency to gloss over childhood and adolescence. Even in the early modern period, children were still largely absent from literary works, as both the French and the English cases attest. Insofar as authors did focus on the young, it was often the child prodigy, the puer senex, a child who already thought like an old man, who interested them. For example, Thomas Williams Malkin, born in 1795, started his career at age three, became an expert linguist at four, was a profound philosopher at five, read the fathers of the church at six, and died of old age at seven. Nonetheless, medievalists were quick to demonstrate at least some recognition of the "particular nature" of childhood during their period by examining law codes, for example, or medical treatises. They also drew attention to the extensive treatment of the notion of the ages of man inherited from classical antiquity. During the late medieval and early modern periods, such ideas and the images associated with them, including the swaddled baby or the frolicsome child, were widely disseminated in the vernacular. However, these schemes were largely academic exercises that owed more to the ingenuity of philosophers in relating the human life cycle to the natural world than to any direct observations of children and others. Besides the seven ages familiar from Jaques's speech in Shakespeare's As You Like It, popular interpretations embraced three, four, and six ages. It all depended on the author's intention to draw parallels between the stages of life and, for example, the four humors or the seven planets.

The sweeping changes during the early modern period proposed, but not very convincingly documented, by Ariès also made the majority of historians uncomfortable. For a while some accepted the notion of a discovery of the particular nature of childhood but claimed to locate it in another period or a more specific one. Pierre Riché, for example, went back to the sixth century among teachers of the young oblates in the monasteries. John Sommerville contended that "sustained interest in children in England began with the Puritans" of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for they were "the first to puzzle over their nature and their place in society" (Sommerville, 1992, p. 3). According to many historians, in the eighteenth century the French philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau was perhaps the first thinker to consider childhood worth studying in its own right.

Scholars began to diverge even further from the Ariès approach by doubting the appropriateness of thinking in terms of a definitive discovery of childhood at some point in the past. Critics of Ariès, notably Adrian Wilson, accused him of extreme "present centeredness" (Wilson, 1980, p. 147). That is to say, Ariès looked for evidence of twentieth-century French ideas of childhood in medieval Europe, failed to find it, and then leaped to the conclusion that the period had no awareness of this stage of life at all. It is conceivable that the Middle Ages had a consciousness of childhood so different from the familiar modern one that it is unrecognizable. The suggestion of some fixed and stable notion of childhood "waiting in the wings of history for just recognition" ( Jordanova, 1989, p. 10) then becomes difficult to sustain. Instead it may be more illuminating to seek various cultural constructions of childhood in the past. These invariably competed with each other at any particular period and did not necessarily evolve in one direction. Indeed many historians have noted the ambivalence of adult attitudes to childhood. There is in fact a whole repertoire of themes in the construction of childhood worthy of exploration.

Nature versus nurture. One reason why medieval writers paid scant attention to children was that they did not share the modern view of the early years of life as critical for character formation. They considered the nature a child is born with the most important influence, the raw material without which the finest nurturing would be wasted. Hence Middle High German texts assume that a base character like Judas, brought up to be a noble, was bound to turn out badly. Conversely, a young man responds almost instantly to instruction in his true calling, as Parzival became an accomplished knight relatively late in life after a few words of instruction from the hermit Gurnemanz.

This particular balance in favor of nature over nurture gradually shifted in the opposite direction from the Renaissance onward. The Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) hinted at the common notion that a child's mind was a blank sheet on which teachers could write whatever they considered suitable. He noted the "quality of rawness and freshness" in a child's mind, which had to be molded to produce a fully human soul rather than a "monstrous bestiality." The English philosopher John Locke gave the image of the child as a tabula rasa a further boost when he published Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693). In the final paragraph he admitted that he had considered the gentleman's son for whom it had been written "only as white Paper, or Wax, to be molded and fashioned as one pleases" (Locke, 1989, p. 265). The middle and upper classes in particular began to pay more attention to this "molding" of the young and to the detailed advice on child rearing and education provided by moralists. The idea that "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" became received wisdom. Locke summed up the increasingly environmentalist perspective by asserting, "Of all the Men we meet with, Nine Parts of Ten are what they are, Good or Evil, useful or not, by their Education" (p. 83). At the same time he noted that tutors needed to pay close attention to the "various Tempers, different Inclinations and particular Defaults" found in children (p. 265).

Hereditary influences made something of a comeback in certain scientific circles during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Italian Cesare Lombroso claimed that some people were born criminals. Fortunately, an "anthropological examination" would expose these criminal types, explaining their "scholastic and disciplinary shortcomings" so they could be segregated from their better-endowed companions. Meanwhile a number of educational psychologists in England and Germany asserted the hereditary nature of intelligence. In 1906 Karl Pearson stood Locke on his head by writing, "the influence of environment is nowhere more than one-fifth of heredity, and quite possibly not one-tenth of it." Three years later his colleague Cyril Burt concluded that intelligence is innate after finding that boys from a small sample of upper-class families in Oxford performed better at his tests than those with a lower-middle-class background. He spent the rest of his career campaigning for selectivity in education on the grounds that most of the population could never develop much in the way of intelligence. What mattered, in his view, was to identify and nurture that small elite "endowed by nature with outstanding gifts of ability and character."

Depravity versus innocence. The origin of the view that children are naturally depraved goes back to St. Augustine, who asserted in the fourth century that the taint of sin was passed down from generation to generation by the act of creation. His firm line that infants are born in sin generally prevailed over the opposing one of infant innocence until the twelfth century. It was also taken up again with a vengeance from the sixteenth century onward by Protestant reformers and their Catholic counterparts, both heavily influenced by Augustinian theology. A German sermon dating from the 1520s contended that infant hearts craved after "adultery, fornication, impure desires, lewdness, idol worship, belief in magic, hostility, quarrelling,passion, anger, strife, dissension, factiousness, hatred, murder, drunkenness, gluttony" and more. The English Presbyterian Daniel Williams was equally forthright in the eighteenth century, telling his juvenilereaders, "Thou by nature art brutish and devilish." Yet for all their insistence that children were born with evil in their hearts, Puritans were at least willing to envisage them as vessels "ready to receive good or evil drop by drop," or as young twigs ready to be bent the right or the wrong way. Catholics of this same era continued the Augustinian tradition with no less vehemence. As Pierre de Bérulle, leader of the Oratorians in France, magnificently put it during the 1620s, "Childhood is the vilest and most abject condition of human nature, after that of death." At the same time they were prepared to argue that the very weakness of children made them model Christians insofar as they were in no position to resist the Divine Will.

Catholic and Protestant writers also liked to compare children to wild, undomesticated animals. Both Erasmus and Martin Luther, for example, characterized bad behavior as animal-like. Small children, according to the historian David Hunt, were seen as intermediate beings, not really animals but not really humans either. This tradition died hard. The English Evangelical movement of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was perhaps most explicit in reasserting the idea that children are by nature evil. Its last gasp around 1900 took the form of recapitulation theory, whereby each child growing up follows the stages of civilization experienced by human beings. Childhood was of course akin to savagery.

The contrasting belief in the original innocence of children was also deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. As early as the fifth century Pope Leo the Great preached, "Christ loved childhood, mistress of humility, rule of innocence, model of sweetness." During the early modern era notions of infant depravity continued to hold sway, though most authors softened the original Augustinian position. A full blast against it came with the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and the most forceful opponent was Rousseau. He made his position perfectly clear in Emile (1762), which begins with the famous line, "Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man" (Rousseau, 1979, p. 37). As innocents, children could be left to respond to nature, then they would do nothing but good. 'Respect childhood," he counseled, and "leave nature to act for a long time before you get involved with acting in its place" (p. 107). The romantic conception of childhood, which first appeared during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, continued in this vein. It depicted children as "creatures of deeper wisdom, finer aesthetic sensitivity, and a more profound awareness of enduring moral truths" (Grylls, 1978, p. 35). Childhood had become a lost realm that was nonetheless fundamental to the creation of the adult self. For the poet William Wordsworth, in his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" (1807), "Heaven lies about us in our infancy!" For the German romantic Jean Paul Richter, in Levana (1807), children were "pure beings" sent to earth from the unknown world above.

It was one thing to proclaim the angelic nature of childhood in a poem but quite another to create plausible characters in a novel or to deal with hardened street urchins. Charles Dickens (1812–1870) may occasionally have lapsed into sentimentality when describing children, such as Little Nell (from The Old Curiosity Shop) or David Copperfield. More characteristically, as Peter Coveney observed, in his strongest depictions of childhood Dickens achieved a powerful mingling of pathos and idealization with the squalid (Coveney, 1967, p. 159). By the twentieth century the association of childhood with innocence was firmly embedded in Western culture, though the excesses of Victorian sentimentalization of childhood did not survive the appearance of Freud's theories on the human personality.

Helplessness versus dependence. All infants are born helpless, but when they should start becoming independent is an open question. As late as the nineteenth century the majority of children in Europe were encouraged to begin supporting themselves at an early stage. The age of seven was an informal turning point when the offspring of peasants and craftspeople were generally expected to start helping their parents with little tasks around the home, the farm, or the workshop. By their early teens they were likely to be working beside adults or were established in apprenticeships. They might have left home by then to become servants or apprentices. This is not to say that they were treated as miniature adults—they certainly were not required to do the same work as older people—but they were expected to grow up fast. The young may also have discussed sexuality quite openly with adults during the medieval and early modern periods. The sociologist Norbert Elias argued that boys lived from an early age in the same social sphere as adults, and the latter did not feel it necessary to restrain themselves "in action or in words" as in modern times. He cited Colloquies, a schoolbook written by Erasmus in 1519, which includes sections on a young man wooing a girl, a woman complaining about the bad behavior of her husband, and a conversation between a young man and a prostitute. (Elias neglected to mention that the book was condemned by the theologians of the Sorbonne and eventually put on the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books.) How much of a sex life young people had in the past is a matter of controversy among historians. Low rates of illegitimacy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries may provide evidence of sexual austerity outside marriage. Alternatively, Jean-Louis Flandrin argued from French evidence that youthful libido found various outlets short of full intercourse, especially through homosexuality, masturbation, and intimate courting customs.

Since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the middle-class desire has been to isolate children and, later, adolescents from the world of adults. Young people have been increasingly infantilized by efforts to keep them out of the workplace, to repress their sexuality, and to prolong their formal education in schools and colleges. Ideally such feeble creatures would be removed from all temptation, constantly supervised, and subjected to an endless round of rigorous rules and exercises. Hence learning languages would feature prominently. To put it another way, the child would be kept apart and preserved by living in Latin among the idealized figures of antiquity. Yet it was one thing for Rousseau to recommend that the young remain continent until their twenties and quite another to prevent them from masturbating or experimenting with the opposite sex. Efforts to prevent children from earning a wage also clashed with peasant and working-class notions of early independence. These tensions came to a head in many countries during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as governments attempted to impose the new model through factory legislation and compulsory schooling. The notion of a long childhood finally prevailed, perhaps at the cost of underestimating the capacities of children.

Age versus sex. How did people in the past combine their perception of age, a child as opposed to an adult, with that of sex, a male as opposed to a female? During the Middle Ages, when they used the word "child" in written sources, they usually appeared to have a boy in mind. In the Occitan literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for example, girls were virtually invisible. For centuries the prevailing mode in literary sources provided advice on the rearing of young males from the elite. Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education was a particularly illustrious example. Rousseau's Emile reflected something of a turning point in the eighteenth century by introducing Sophie beside Emile, though the subordinate role envisaged for her hardly endeared Rousseau to feminists or to modern sensibilities. The romantic movement brought the child rather than the boy to the forefront. Indeed the tendency was for that stock character in Victorian fiction, the child redeemer who reconciles estranged members of families or helps adults see the error of their ways, to be a girl. One thinks of Sissy Jupe, Little Nell, or Florence Dombey in the work of Dickens. Advice on the dress, diet, and exercise appropriate for children and infants in Victorian England minimized sex differences. Parents were probably relaxed about this, according to Deborah Gorham, because they were certain about innate differences between males and females. Nonetheless, they hoped that, as the two sexes played together, the supposed weakness of the girl would be strengthened and the roughness of the boy softened.

Conclusion. It appears from the available sources that a generalized interest in childhood was slow to emerge in Europe. This might be linked to underlying socioeconomic conditions. In an agrarian economy, predominant in much of Europe until the nineteenth century, children were inserted gradually into the world of adults from an early age. Childhood and adolescence meshed progressively and almost imperceptibly into adulthood. This does not necessarily mean swallowing the Ariès thesis whole and asserting that people in early modern Europe were unaware of different stages of development among the young. For example, the responsibilities with which young people were entrusted at the workplace were graded until the youngsters reached full maturity as workers in their late teens. They played their own games, apart from those of adults, and legal codes recognized their need for protection under certain circumstances.

Nonetheless, under these conditions childhood and adolescence did appear less structured and special. Most young people followed in the footsteps of their parents, so one generation shaded unobtrusively into the next. The strict age grading introduced by the modern school system was a late-nineteenth-century development. Also a raft of cultural influences from antiquity and Christianity lent themselves to a negative view of childhood. These were challenged under the humanist banner during the Renaissance, allowing the more sympathetic perspective on childhood, which was also part of the Christian tradition, to come to the fore. Changing material conditions also fostered an interest in childhood, notably with the rise of capitalism between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Various historians have noted how an increasingly commercialized and urbanized society required more investment in the young. The urban labor market was more diverse than that of the villages, the element of choice and experimentation became more critical during the early years, and education was established as a channel to success in business and above all the professions. The welfare of children became a matter of intense interest, which immensely complicated the whole business of child rearing.


Bad parents, good parents. Parents have received a bad press in much of the historical literature on child rearing. In The History of Childhood, Lloyd deMause went further than most in a ringing denunciation: "The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized and sexually abused" (DeMause, 1974, p. 1). To his critics, deMause had in effect written little more than a history of child abuse. He was, however, in good company during the 1970s. Lawrence Stone asserted that, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, children in England were "neglected, brutally treated, and even killed" (Stone, 1977, p. 99). Edward Shorter contrasted the indifference of mothers to the development and happiness of infants in traditional society with the "good mothering" of the modern period. Later studies of parent-child relationships generally took a more tolerant line on past practices. Steven Ozment deflated earlier claims, observing, "surely the hubris of an age reaches a certain peak when it accuses another age of being incapable of loving its children properly" (Ozment, 1983, p. 162).

Historians have attempted to distinguish more carefully between practices considered in the best interests of the children at the time, even though they might appear wrongheaded in hindsight, such as swaddling, and others, such as infanticide, condemned outright in the past as in the present. The general drift of the revisionist argument has been that continuities in parenting are more in evidence than any dramatic turning points. Examples of cruel and abusive parents can be found in any age, they have suggested, but the vast majority probably felt affection for their offspring and did the best they could for them. Linda Pollock, for instance, denied that the young were neglected or systematically ill treated in the past because of an alleged inability to appreciate the needs of the young. Her bold counterassertion, based on British and American material, was that there were "very few changes in parental care and child life from the 16th to the 19th century in the home" (Pollock, 1983, p. 268). The problem of finding evidence to settle what appears to be two plausible but contradictory cases has presented an interesting agenda for debate.

Caring for infants: food, clothing, and hygiene. A compelling case can be made to show that the alleged indifference to childhood in the medieval and early modern periods resulted in a callous approach to child rearing. Infants under two years of age in particular were thought to suffer appalling neglect because parents considered it unwise to invest emotional or material resources in "poor sighing animals" who were all too likely to die young. Hence they often were denied their mother's milk and instead were sent to mercenary wetnurses. Imprisoned for hours in their swaddling bands and tight little cribs, they were left to stew in their own excrement and other filth. At the very worst, they were killed or abandoned to a charitable institution. Only with the more enlightened views on childhood of the eighteenth century did parents begin to adopt more "modern" approaches to child care. Certainly moralists and physicians gave ample testimony on parents' lack of interest in their youngest children. Yet some historians possibly have sided a little too hastily with Enlightenment reformers in denigrating parents influenced by the traditional popular culture.

On the matter of feeding infants, at first sight nothing would appear more heartless than to snatch a newborn babe from his or her mother. Indeed a tradition among physicians and theologians favoring maternal breastfeeding was established well before the famous interventions of Rousseau and his contemporaries during the eighteenth century. The seventeenth-century Dutch writer Jacob Cats, for example, entreated young mothers to "give the noble suck to refresh your little fruit." Yet in much of Europe, notably in France and Italy, wealthy families turned to wet nurses, women paid to suckle someone else's child. Wetnursing took on a whole new scale in many cities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1780 the lieutenant general of police estimated that only 1 in 30 of the 21,000 babies born each year in Paris was nursed by its mother. The rest went to wet nurses in the suburbs or the surrounding countryside. By this period in France the very wealthy had been joined on the market by large contingents of artisans, shopkeepers, and even servants. Contemporaries accused mothers of refusing to breastfeed because they were more concerned about their figures and the social round than the welfare of their children. Fathers were considered no less selfish, circumventing the recommended abstinence from sexual intercourse during breastfeeding (it was thought to spoil the milk).

As for the nurses, they supposedly acted as true mercenaries, treating their tiny charges as a commodity like any other. According to their critics, they deceived parents in their letters on the condition of their charges, offered milk to their own children before the little intruders, and supplemented their overstretched milk supplies with pap made from flour or breadcrumbs and water. Above all they allegedly deprived infants of the care and attention they needed. In eighteenth-century England, John Stedman complained bitterly of his four wetnurses:

The first of these bitches was turn'd off for having nearly suffocated me in bed. . . . The second had let me fall from her arms on the stones till my head was almost fractured, & I lay several hours in convulsions. The third carried me under a moulder'd old brick wall, which fell in a heap of rubbish just the moment we had passed by it, while the fourth proved to be a thief, and deprived me even of my very baby clothes.

To clinch the case, an appalling "massacre of the innocents" occurred in the villages. George Sussman suggested three levels of infant mortality among those born in French cities during the eighteenth century. The lowest and rarest rate, 180 to 200 per 1,000 live births, was registered among those breast-fed at home by their mothers. A medium range of 250 to 400 per 1,000 occurred among those put out to nurse in the countryside. Finally, a catastrophic rate of 650 to 900 per 1,000 struck foundlings who also were placed, several to each nurse, in rural areas.

This grim version of events, however, risks distorting the overall perspective on infant feeding. To begin with, the consensus among historians is that most mothers in the European past breast-fed their own offspring at home. Wetnursing, generally confined to the larger, older cities of Europe, was rare in villages, small towns, and the new industrial centers of the nineteenth century. It was also quite rare in Germany and Holland and perhaps in England. Evidence from Germany supports marked regional variations in feeding practices. A 1905 survey shows that infants in the northern and western sections of Bavaria and Baden and in Hessen usually were breast-fed, while the majority in southern and eastern Bavaria were fed artificially. But data for such maps of breast-feeding practice are rare.

The traditional custom was to wait a few days before putting babies to the breast because mothers thought the first milk was a bad substance. Newborn infants were given a range of substitutes, such as milk from another woman or a purge. (The benefits of colostrum were not recognized generally until the French surgeon François Mauriceau turned the tide in the late seventeenth century.) Nurslings were generally fed on demand at all levels of society. The German physician Friedrich Hoffmann reported in the 1740s that "for the most part the breast is given in the first months every two hours; after three or four months, six or seven times a day; and at length only twice or thrice a day." Even wetnurses apparently suckled their own children for nine or ten months before taking on another for money. Weaning was an important rite of passage that varied considerably according to such considerations as the wealth of the parents, the health of the mother, the sex and size of the infant, and local customs. It generally occurred somewhere between six months and two years.

A further point to bear in mind is that, until the "Pasteurian revolution" of the late nineteenth century, wetnursing was the safest alternative to maternal breastfeeding. Some wealthy mothers may have believed that peasant women were healthier than they were and that the country was a more suitable place for children than the city. What counted therefore was finding and maintaining a good nurse. Many in the middling ranks of society had little choice in the matter. Wives were essential in running a small workshop or business, as among the silk weavers of eighteenth-century Lyon and Milan, and the families could not afford to spend much on a nurse. The wealthy, who could choose from the best wetnurses, were in an entirely different position. Most of them probably took for granted the privilege of handing over child-care responsibilities to someone else, whatever the dangers. Above all the urban elites could secure nurses who lived in or near their homes and who therefore could be supervised easily. Memoirs written by children from noble families in imperial Russia describe the serfs who nursed them as loving and attentive; the poor women were in no position to be anything else.

Providing children with enough food was the overriding problem facing poor families well into the nineteenth century. Pierre-Jakez Hélias remembered that large families in the Pays Bigoudin area of Brittany during the first decade of the 1900s still measured food sparingly and that children squabbled over crusts of bread. Keeping children warm was a further challenge. For the first month or so of their lives children were tightly bound with strips of cloth; after that their arms and heads were left free until they were ready for the little robes that both boys and girls wore. Medical opinion became hostile to swaddling during the eighteenth century. Critics argued that it restricted the freedom of young limbs, risked constricting the breathing of the child, and left it wrapped up with its own urine and feces for long periods. They also felt that hanging a swaddled child from a nail for hours was negligence. Yet they were bound to recognize that, besides keeping infants warm, these practices helped protect the young from being bitten by domestic animals, pigs especially. The popular belief was that the bands and tightly fitting cribs helped the child develop strong bones and an upright posture. The lower orders also diverged from educated opinion on matters of hygiene. Many mothers believed that a layer of dirt on the head protected the fontanel and that it was better to dry diapers than to wash them because of the healing powers of urine. Such practices gradually died out during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as the medical influence on childhood became more prominent. The resultant changes, in terms of child development and adult attention, were considerable.

Infanticide and abandonment. The parent-child relationship sometimes broke down completely, most dramatically when infants were killed or abandoned by their parents. Charges of infanticide were rare in the law courts, but occasionally evidence surfaces hinting that newborn infants were quietly disposed of in some numbers by mothers and their accomplices. During the 1720s, for example, when a drain was opened in the Breton town of Rennes as part of a construction program, the tiny skeletons of over eighty babies came to light. Judicial records reveal that those caught by the authorities were almost invariably unmarried women, mothers who had killed their illegitimate offspring shortly after birth. It may be that married couples managed to rid themselves of unwanted infants by surreptitiously starving or suffocating them. Because infant mortality remained high until the late nineteenth century, such criminal acts were difficult to detect. Servant girls, the occupational group most often prosecuted for infanticide, were more vulnerable, because they were constantly supervised by their employers and associated with this type of crime in the common mind. Since good character was all-important for a servant, the pressures on these young mothers were enormous. If discovered as the mother of an illegitimate child, a servant faced instant dismissal from her job, poor chances of future employment, and reduced prospects for a respectable marriage partner. The risk of shame and impoverishment was therefore particularly acute for a servant with a solid reputation; a more dissolute woman had less to lose.

Infanticide would probably have been more common in the European past had it not been relatively easy during many periods to abandon a child. The scale of abandonment in certain towns was simply staggering, particularly after the middle of the eighteenth century. In Paris during the early nineteenth century, approximately one-fifth of all babies born in the city were abandoned. In St. Petersburg during the 1830s and 1840s, the figure was between a third and a half, and in Milan up until the 1860s it was between 30 and 40 percent. Few of the foundlings were in fact discovered on the streets in this late period. Most were deposited with foundling hospitals and other charitable institutions. By the nineteenth century boys were as likely to be abandoned as girls, and legitimate as well as illegitimate children were included in considerable numbers.

Initially these decisions by parents appear cruel, especially given that mortality rates for foundlings reached 80 or 90 percent during the first year of life. Doubtless some unscrupulous parents took the opportunity to off-load unwanted children onto a charitable or state-run institution. The occasional doctor, lawyer, artist, military officer, or noble who turned up as a father—perhaps rejecting the outcome of an illicit liaison—in the records of the Hôpital des Enfants-Trouvés (Foundling Hospital) in eighteenth-century Paris surely was open to the common accusation of debauchery.

A closer look at the evidence on abandonment suggests two further considerations, however. First, the familiar combination of shame and poverty bore down upon young, single women from the working classes who were contemplating parenthood. A number of studies have revealed close links between surges in the abandonment of children and periods of economic crisis. In the Norman town of Caen a rise in the price of wheat was soon followed by an increase in abandonments during the eighteenth century. In Russia the soldatki, the wives and daughters of men drafted into lifetime military service, were prominent as abandoning mothers during the early nineteenth century. Second, parents often made it clear that they hoped to reclaim their children at a later date, when their circumstances improved. They frequently slipped little forms of identification into the babies' clothing, such as ribbons, medals, playing cards, or plaintive notes explaining their predicaments. They may have believed that their babies would have a better chance of survival in the foundling hospital than at home, apparently unaware of the lethal conditions in the hospitals and among the hard-pressed wet nurses. Volker Hunecke showed that in nineteenth-century Milan large numbers of poor families treated the local foundling hospital as a source of free nursing for their legitimate children. He cited, admittedly as an extreme case, the handloom weaver Maria G., who in twenty-eight years produced twenty-two children, all but the last nursed by the hospital.

The second phase of childhood: age two to seven years. After weaning, children moved into the second phase of childhood, commonly perceived to last until around the age of seven, the age of reason. The specter haunting the young during this stage of life was the intrusive rather than the indifferent parent. According to the historian Bogna W. Lorence, many parents in the eighteenth century insisted on complete control of their children in a bid to subdue their spirits and harden their bodies. Indeed, throughout the early modern period, parents often set out deliberately to break the will of their offspring. The more fervent Protestants usually emerge as the villains. In 1732 Susanna Wesley wrote in a letter to her son John Wesley, the future founder of Methodism: "In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper." Evidence from continental Europe, however, suggests that Catholics as well as Protestants thought in terms of breaking in the young. Child rearing then became a grim story of cold and formal relationships between parents and children, rigid rules, harsh punishments, and heavy-handed moralizing. It is tempting to contrast this type of regime with the gentler one, based on mutual affection between parent and child, documented in a minority of upper-class households from the late seventeenth century onward. Twentieth-century historians attempted to present a more sympathetic view of puritan parents and to locate them more precisely in particular social milieus. They noted that even the most austere evangelicals were moved by the desire to save the souls of their children and that rigorous theory was usually softened by more flexible practice.

During early childhood children were mainly in the hands of women—mothers, aunts, grandmothers, nurses, governesses, and older sisters. Some mothers, particularly those in aristocratic circles, doubtless remained indifferent to the fate of their offspring at this stage. The French statesman Charles-Maurice Talleyrand claimed never to have slept under the same roof as his mother and father. Children in this milieu were routinely handed over to a governess, often remembered by Russian nobles as an arbitrary and punitive character. At the other end of the social scale, mothers from the laboring classes struggled with difficult material circumstances, which may have strained relationships with their sons and daughters. Children were a potential nuisance for women who had a heavy routine of work on a farm or in a workshop and the tightest of budgets to manage. Many working-class autobiographies from the nineteenth century recall with some resentment the lack of physical warmth in relationships with mothers. At the same time the writers generally recognized that their mothers were trying to look after their interests as best they could. Adelheid Popp, born near Vienna in 1869, claimed that she had been deprived of a childhood guided by motherly love. "In spite of this, I had a good, self-sacrificing mother, who allowed herself no time for rest and quiet, always driven by necessity and her own desire to bring up her children honestly and to guard them from hunger."

Similarly, pious mothers who believed in innate depravity, typically women from lower-middle-class backgrounds, were not necessarily unsympathetic to young people. A woman like Susanna Wesley might display a steely determination to break the wills of her progeny, but she also provided a caring and supportive environment. Stone argued that mothers and fathers who attempted a more affectionate, child-oriented approach first appeared among the English landed and professional classes during the late seventeenth century; the approach then spread to the Continent and to other classes. This may underestimate parental interest lower down the social scale, but certainly it helped to have material security and support from servants.

One of the earliest tasks of child rearing was toilet training. Modern authors have often expressed surprise at the relaxed attitudes that prevailed in this area until the late nineteenth century. For the mass of the population living in the countryside, a mess on a beaten earth floor was easily cleared up with the help of some ashes. Even in more bourgeois circles, judging from diaries, it often passed without comment or was treated lightly. During the 1680s a Dutch authority counseled parents to avoid frightening infants during the process and to treat bed-wetting merely as a passing phase. Parents might prove more anxious when teaching their children to walk, since tradition associated crawling with animals rather than humans. They resorted to leading strings attached to clothes and little frames to encourage children to remain upright as early as possible. Sometimes those in middle- and upper-class circles inflicted various iron collars and backboards on girls as a follow-up to swaddling.

To help teach children to talk and to count, mothers relied on a repertoire of lullabies, nursery rhymes, riddles, and counting games. Lullabies, curiously enough, often dwelled on the harsh realities of life. A German one, presumably from the time of the Thirty Years' War in the seventeenth century, urged the child to go to bed because Count Oxenstierna and his Swedish army would be coming in the morning:

Bet' Kinder, bet',
Morge kommt der Schwed'.
Morge kommt der Oxestern,
Der wird die Kinder bete lern.
Pray children, pray,
The Swede will be here in the morning,
Oxenstierna will be here in the morning,
And he'll teach the children to pray.

Counting and word games usually were playful, as in the French counting game that played on the pronunciation of "assassin," "assa un, assa deux, assa trois, assa quatre, assa cinq." Others were parodies, such as "Dominus vobiscum, mangez les poires, laissez les pommes" (the Lord be with you, eat the pears, leave the apples).

Peasant families in addition had to think about keeping youngsters out of danger while adults were busy. They generally relied on fear, threatening their charges with an assortment of bogeymen, trolls, fairies, werewolves, and the like lurking around water and forests. In Brittany, for example, Hélias remembered warnings of the man with carrot fingers, a tall figure in a cloak who liked to play tricks on travelers. The vibrancy of this culture is difficult to determine. Folklore collections give the impression that many regions had a rich heritage, while studies of modern industrial towns sometimes leave a bleaker impression. A selection of autobiographies of working-class childhoods in Vienna around 1900 indicate that the use of language was reduced to the bare essentials.

Parents also turned to a range of toys and books for children to help with their intellectual and physical development. However, the main developments here did not occur until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In all periods children improvised toys from everyday materials and created their own fantasy worlds. In the seventeenth century, for example, John Dee mentioned in his diary, "Arthur Dee and Mary Herbert, they being but 3 yere old the eldest, did make as it wer a shew of childish marriage, of calling ech other husband and wife." Besides traditional playthings, such as tops, marbles, and dolls, the toy industry supplied young people with innovations that included board games, jigsaw puzzles, automata, and model soldiers. The earliest board games certainly trumpeted their educational content. Titles of early English games included A Journey through Europe (1759), Royal Geographical Amusement (1774), and Arithmetical Pastime (1798). By the middle of the nineteenth century manufacturing centers such as Nürnberg in Germany and the Black Country in England turned out huge quantities of cheap wooden and metal toys, and evidence suggests that even some working-class households could afford to buy them.

The production of books for children also took off in the eighteenth century. For a long time the heavy-handed moralizing of an earlier tradition loomed large. The most infamous example is the passage in Mary Martha Sherwood's The History of the Fairchild Family (1818), in which the parents react to a squabble between siblings by imposing an evening walk to see the rotting corpse of a man hanged for murdering his brother. More appetizing fare for children soon appeared, however. German authors, like the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, mined a rich vein of fairy tales and folk poetry, while American and English authors, including James Fenimore Cooper and Frederick Marryat, became renowned throughout Europe for their adventure stories.

The most challenging role for "intrusive" mothers was passing on moral and religious values. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when most people still believed in the innate depravity of children, the only way they saw to break in such creatures was to draw up a tight set of rules and strictly enforce them. A German discipline manual dating from 1519 barked out its orders to children: "Sleep neither too little nor too much. Begin each day by blessing it in God's name and saying the Lord's Prayer. Thank God for keeping you through the night and ask his help for the new day. Greet your parents. Comb your hair and wash your face and hands." Even babies and toddlers who broke the rules risked fierce retribution. During the 1600s the future king Louis XIII of France was first whipped by his nurse when he was only two years of age. Susanna Wesley noted in a sinister passage concerning her offspring, "When turned a year old (and some before) they were taught to fear the rod and to cry softly."

Whether many parents stayed the course in crushing the will of their children is a matter of speculation. The constant complaint from moralists that mothers loved to spoil their children may hint that they avoided the extremes. Doubtless the widespread custom was "beating, whipping, abusing and scolding children and holding them in great fear and subjection," as Pierre Charron observed in 1601. Yet advice manuals advised using corporal punishment as a last resort and disapproved of immediate, ill-tempered responses to childish faults. What mattered was that the child develop a conscience and internalize the prevailing norms. English Puritan testimony suggests that this group may not deserve its fearsome reputation in child rearing. Ralph Josselin's diary, written between 1641 and 1683, gives no hint of harsh and authoritarian attitudes toward his sons nor of physical punishments. The historian Simon Schama noted that Dutch Protestants in the seventeenth century followed the alternative humanist tradition of cajoling children into learning. Moreover adults always faced the likelihood that excessive discipline would provoke resistance. In her memoirs, Madame Roland, famed for her association with the French Revolution, contrasted her "sagacious and discrete" mother with her "despot-like" father. Her mother realized that the young Jeanne-Marie needed to be governed by reason and affection. Her father failed miserably, and his recourse to the rod converted his gentle daughter into "a lion."

The third phase of childhood: age seven to twelve or fourteen. The age of seven, as noted above, marked a significant turning point in the life of a child in early modern Europe. The future Louis XIII discarded his robe for a doublet and breeches, and the sons of Russian nobles moved from the female to the male quarters in the home. Children faced new responsibilities as they became involved in formal education and the world of work. Gender differences, never far below the surface in infancy, became more pronounced. Fathers took over prime responsibility for sons, while mothers continued their instruction of daughters. Agricol Perdiguier, brought up on a small farm near Avignon early in the nineteenth century, remembered that his father considered reading and writing a waste of time for girls (though he was scarcely more ambitious for boys) and that the two youngest daughters at least were spared from work in the fields. Children might be educated at home, by a tutor in elite families, or by parents, but the latter sometimes found this a daunting task. There were books to help them, such as The Rules of Christian Propriety and Civility, Very Useful for the Education of Children and for People Who Lack Both the Good Manners of Society and the French Language, published in 1560 in France, but parents with rudimentary educations must have struggled to achieve much.

Growing maturity did not necessarily mean that children were freed from demands for unquestioning obedience. Highborn families might insist on elaborate signs of deference. For instance, the daughter of a Russian noble family recalled that "children kissed their parents' hands in the morning, thanked them for dinner and supper, and took leave of them before going to bed." Working-class families, faced with overcrowded lodgings, bore down on the young in their own way to ensure that fathers were not disturbed when they returned from work. In Vienna parents often imposed silence at mealtimes and punished children by making them kneel quietly. Some children had to leave home at this stage, but this was the exception rather than the rule. In preindustrial times most waited until their teens, when they went to a boarding school, for example, started an apprenticeship, or entered domestic service. Children of a poor family might have to depart at a more tender age, possibly temporarily, usually to work as a servant of some kind.

Older children usually escaped from the clutches of the family to spend much of the day in the company of their peers. Boys and girls played together in the fields or on the streets of a town, but mostly they went their separate ways. Young males tended to form gangs, profiting from their greater freedom to roam away from the house. It seems that young lads drifted into these gangs at around the age of ten and gave them up when courtship took over during their late teens. The gangs had their own codes of conduct. Members solemnly supported their oaths with a "cross my heart" or, in the French version, "Boule de feu, boule de fer / Si je mens, j'irai en enfer" (Ball of fire, ball of iron / If I lie, I go to hell). Gangs demanded absolute loyalty and punished sneaks and traitors mercilessly, as demonstrated by the fate of Bacaille in Louis Pergaud's novel La guerre des boutons. For betraying his comrades' camp to a rival gang, Bacaille was stripped, beaten, and spat upon, and his clothes were returned heavily soiled, with all the buttons missing.

The climate of the urban street gangs, as Michael Mitterauer noted, was dominated by a strong sense of machismo. The gangs carved out their identity by defending their "patch" against incursions from rivals in neighboring parishes or sections of town. According to a report from Cologne in 1810, repeated brawls during the summer months prevented young lads from venturing unaccompanied into another district. In Lancashire this custom of "scuttling" involved much ritualized abuse and brandishing of weapons, though in the end the lads preferred to rely on fists and boots in a fight. A gang member from Manchester insisted that, from his experiences in the early twentieth century, "It wasn't too serious; every party was more or less satisfied with a black eye or a nose bleed." Public authorities regarded male juveniles with a jaundiced eye because of their rowdy street games, their petty thefts, and their pranks to annoy adults. Such antics have a long pedigree. In the 1590s complaints were recorded of boys breaking windows and disturbing services at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Girls were more inclined to group together in twos and threes, defiantly observing and mocking the males. Parents tied them more closely to the home, especially in Mediterranean cultures. Even farther north, custom demanded that they behave modestly and make themselves useful. A study of the village of Minot in Burgundy revealed that, among the young shepherds in the fields, boys played around while girls knitted, made lace, or mended clothes.

Last but not least, young people spent as much time as they could playing games among themselves. These activities display a remarkable continuity. Iona Opie and Peter Opie remarked in Children's Games in Street and Playground (1969) that "if a present-day schoolchild was wafted back to any previous century he would probably find himself more at home with the games being played than with any other social custom" (Opie and Opie, 1969, p. 7). They noted that the Elizabethans played bowls, "king by your leaue" (a version of hide-and-seek), and "sunne and moone" (tug-of-war). Other familiar games can be traced back to the Middle Ages and even into antiquity, encouraging the pleasing notion of a particular culture of childhood. Thomas Jordan talked in terms of a lost tribe of children, which the historian must investigate like an anthropologist to understand how it transfers the lore of the group to its newest and youngest members; for it is children, not adults, who teach the rules. The danger is sidelining the young into a ghetto, ignoring the fact that from the beginning they acquire their language and patterns of thought from adults. Nonetheless, children undoubtedly liked nothing better than to roam unsupervised in the fields, in vacant lots, or around the streets of a town. Georges Dumoulin remembered marauding the gardens of his village in the Pas-de-Calais with friends during the 1880s. Their favorite occupation was killing the cats of wealthy old women and turning them into a stew. The young also played games with scrupulous attention to tradition. Karl Friedrich Klöden recalled from his childhood in late-eighteenth-century Germany, "One knew that 'Kühler' [marbles] was played only in early spring, ball only at Easter time, kite-flying in the autumn." The Opies classified the games under various headings, including chasing, hunting, racing, daring, guessing, and pretending. Sporting activities, which were not universally codified until the nineteenth century, included football (soccer), hurling, hockey, and tennis.

Child rearing is a matter of interaction between adults and children. Parents invariably start out with ideas about how they want to bring up their children, influenced by religious beliefs, standard of living and occupation, region, and family traditions. Yet they quickly confront manipulation or even outright resistance from their progeny. As indicated, nurslings had some control over their mothers when they were fed on demand, young children might provoke rivalry for their affections between their mothers and their wet nurses, and older children rebelled against overly intrusive parents. The question is whether historians should look for continuities or discontinuities in the history of parent-child relations. Clearly children had some capacity to shape their own lives.


The quality of life for children has in many respects improved almost beyond recognition since the Middle Ages, at least in western Europe. The crippling death rates, when a quarter or more of all babies were dead within a year and another quarter failed to reach adulthood, have ended. The painful and disfiguring diseases, such as rickets and tuberculosis, have receded, and although glaring disparities in income and wealth have persisted, most children are probably better fed, clothed, and housed (not to mention entertained) than in the past. The period of quarantine from adult life, so precious for Ariès, has become well entrenched, notably with the triumph of free, compulsory education. Perhaps a long line of humanists from the time of Erasmus onward encouraged a more sensitive handling of young people. It is uncertain how children reacted to separation from parents, whippings, cold baths, threats of bogeymen, and meditations on death, but perhaps a measure of resignation was the best that could be expected.

Yet progress has its costs. Child rearing became a more daunting experience for parents in the late nineteenth century, as experts from the medical profession and others turned it into a science. Young people have been deprived of many of the responsibilities they took on in earlier centuries. In 1979 Martin Hoyles wrote indignantly, "Our present myth of childhood portrays children as apolitical, asexual, wholly dependent on adults, never engaged in serious activities such as work or culture" (Hoyles, 1979, p. 1). It is perhaps fortunate that children have an impressive record of subverting adult intentions.

See alsoBirth, Contraception, and Abortion; Farm Families and Labor Systems (volume 2);Patriarchy; Motherhood; Youth and Adolescence; Generations and Generational Conflict; Puberty; Childbirth, Midwives, Wetnursing; Child Labor (in this volume);Schools and Schooling (volume 5).


Ariès, Philippe. Centuries of Childhood. Translated by Robert Baldick. London, 1996. Truly a seminal work; originally published in French in 1960.

Becchi, Egile, and Dominique Julia, eds. Histoire de l'enfance en Occident. Vol. 2: Du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours. Paris, 1996.

Coveney, Peter. The Image of Childhood: The Individual and Society: A Study of theTheme in English Literature. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1967.

Cunningham, Hugh. Children and Childhood in Western Society since 1500. London, 1995. Fine introduction to the subject.

DeMause, Lloyd, ed. The History of Childhood. New York, 1974. Interesting collection of essays ranging from the early Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

Elias, Norbert. The Civilizing Process. Vol. 1: The History of Manners. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Oxford, 1978.

Fildes, Valerie A. Breasts, Bottles, and Babies: A History of Infant Feeding. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1986.

Flandrin, Jean-Louis. Families in Former Times: Kinship, Household, and Sexuality. Translated by Richard Southern. Cambridge, U.K., 1979.

Fuchs, Rachel Ginnis. Abandoned Children: Foundlings and Child Welfare inNineteenth-Century France. Albany, N.Y., 1984.

Gorham, Deborah. The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal. London, 1982.

Grylls, David. Guardians and Angels: Parents and Children in Nineteenth-CenturyLiterature. London, 1978.

Haas, Louis. The Renaissance Man and His Children: Childbirth and Early Childhood in Florence, 1300–1600. London, 1998.

Habermas, Rebekka. "Parent-Child Relationships in the Nineteenth Century." German History 16 (1998): 43–55. Part of a special issue on childhood in Germany.

Hawes, Joseph M., and N. Ray Hiner, eds. Children in Historical and ComparativePerspective: An International Handbook and Research Guide. New York, 1991. Helpful collection of essays on various countries.

Hélias, Pierre-Jakez. The Horse of Pride: Life in a Breton Village. Translated by June Guicharnaud. London, 1978.

Hendrick, Harry. Children, Childhood, and English Society, 1880–1990. Cambridge, U.K., 1997. Useful survey of recent literature.

Heywood, Colin. Childhood in Nineteenth-Century France. Cambridge, U.K., 1988.

Hoyles, Martin, ed. Changing Childhood. London, 1979. A radical critique of notions of childhood placed in historical perspective.

Hufton, Olwen H. The Poor of Eighteenth-Century France 1750–1789. Oxford, 1974. Final chapter covers parent-child relationships.

Humphries, Stephen. Hooligans or Rebels? An Oral History of Working-Class Childhood and Youth, 1889–1939. Oxford, 1981. Interesting material on street gangs in England.

Hunecke, Volker. "Les enfants trouvés: Contexte européen et cas milanais (XVIIIe–XIXe siècles)." Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 32 (1985): 3–29.

Hunt, David. Parents and Children in History: The Psychology of Family Life in EarlyModern France. New York, 1970.

Hürlimann, Bettina. Three Centuries of Children's Books in Europe. Translated by Brian W. Alderson. London, 1967.

James, Allison, and Alan Prout, eds. Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood:Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood. London, 1990. Interesting ideas for historians to explore.

Jordan, Thomas E. Victorian Childhood: Themes and Variations. Albany, N.Y., 1987.

Jordanova, Ludmilla. "Children in History: Concepts of Nature and Society." In Children, Parents, and Politics. Edited by Geoffrey Scarre. Cambridge, U.K., 1989. Pages 3–24.

Locke, John. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. Edited by John W. Yolton and Jean S. Yolton. Oxford, 1989. First published in 1693.

Lorence, Bogna W. "Parents and Children in Eighteenth-Century Europe." History of Childhood Quarterly 2 (1974): 1–30.

Malcolmson, R. W. "Infanticide in the Eighteenth Century." In Crime in England,1550–1800. Edited by J. S. Cockburn. London, 1977. Pages 187–209.

Maynes, Mary Jo. Taking the Hard Road: Life Course in French and German Workers'Autobiographies in the Era of Industrialization. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1995. Interesting point of entry for study of childhood.

Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie. Children's Games in Street and Playground. Oxford, 1969. Introduction is informative on the historical dimension.

Ozment, Steven. When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe. Cambridge, Mass., 1983. Mainly focused on Germany with some comparative material.

Pollock, Linda A. Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900. Cambridge, U.K., 1983. An influential counterblast against earlier works by Ariès and deMause.

Ransel, David L. Mothers of Misery: Child Abandonment in Russia. Princeton, N.J., 1988.

Ransel, David L., ed. The Family in Imperial Russia: New Lines of Historical Research. Urbana, Ill., 1978. Contributions cover parent-child relations and child welfare developments.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile. Translated by Allan Bloom. New York, 1979. First published in 1762, this work incorporates many ideas of the eighteenth century but with more panache than any of its rivals.

Schama, Simon. The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. London, 1991. Includes a fascinating survey of children in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic that uses both visual and literary sources.

Shorter, Edward. The Making of the Modern Family. New York, 1975. A wide-ranging and influential study, though many of its conclusions have been disputed by historians.

Sieder, Richard. " 'Vata, Derf I Aufstehn?': Childhood Experiences in Viennese Working-Class Families around 1900." Continuity and Change 1 (1986): 53–88.

Sommerville, C. John. The Discovery of Childhood in Puritan England. Athens, Ga., 1992.

Stone, Lawrence. The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500–1800. London, 1977. More persuasive on the upper than the lower classes.

Strauss, Gerald. Luther's House of Learning: Indoctrination of the Young in the GermanReformation. Baltimore, 1978.

Sussman, George D. Selling Mother's Milk: The Wet-Nursing Business in France,1715–1914. Urbana, Ill., 1982.

Thomas, Keith. "Children in Early Modern England." In Children and Their Books. Edited by Gillian Avery and Julia Briggs. Oxford, 1989. Pages 45–77 Excellent grass-roots view of childhood.

Wilson, Adrian. "The Infancy of the History of Childhood: An Appraisal of Philippe Ariès." History and Theory 19 (1980): 132–153. A critique of Centuries of Childhood.

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