Raising Baby by the Book: The Education of American Mothers

Overview


Although most nineteenth-century American parents relied staunchly on common sense in raising their children, by the 1920s parents were being urged to adopt a scientific approach to child rearing. Today, American parents are besieged with medical and psychological advice about bringing up "normal" children. In this survey of the education of American mothers, Julia Grant shows how the tides of opinion about proper child care have shifted from the early 1800s, when maternal associations discussed biblical and ...
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Overview


Although most nineteenth-century American parents relied staunchly on common sense in raising their children, by the 1920s parents were being urged to adopt a scientific approach to child rearing. Today, American parents are besieged with medical and psychological advice about bringing up "normal" children. In this survey of the education of American mothers, Julia Grant shows how the tides of opinion about proper child care have shifted from the early 1800s, when maternal associations discussed biblical and secular theories of child rearing, through the 1950s, when books like Spock’s Baby and Child Care were widely consulted, to today’s television advice-givers.

Drawing on a wide range of historical sources—from letters written to child-rearing experts to the minutes of mothers’ study clubs—Grant provides access to the voices of mothers from diverse class and ethnic backgrounds, revealing the impact of "expert" advice on maternal thinking and practices. Grant’s review of child-rearing literature extends from Locke and Rousseau to Gesell, Ilg and Ames, Spock, Brazelton, Leach, and Elkind. She describes the "medicalization" of mothering, ongoing negotiations between mothers and professionals, and women’s reactions to the experts’ recommendations. As mothers have increasingly sought assistance in the complex enterprise of raising children, Grant finds, they have become discriminating consumers of professional advice—choosing to follow it, ignore it, or adapt it to their individual circumstances.

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What People Are Saying

Barbara Beatty
Poignant and powerful...[this] book will stand as the first significant work on the history of American parent education.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300195484
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author


Julia Grant is associate professor at James Madison College, Michigan State University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Fitting Their Nurture to Their Nature: The Emergence of Education for Motherhood 13
2 Divine Motherhood Versus Intelligent Parenthood: Women's Organizations and the Child-Study Campaign 39
3 "What Is the Matter with Our Children Today?": Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Parent Education Movement 70
4 Bringing Science to the People: Delivering the Message of Scientific Motherhood 113
5 Caught Between Common Sense and Science: Mothers' Responses to Child Development Expertise 137
6 Democracy Begins at Home: The Practice and Politics of Parenting in the 1930s and 1940s 161
7 Dear Doctor: The Impact of the Baby Book on Post-World War II Mothers 201
Conclusion 245
Notes 251
Index 305
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