Before I answer the question, the reader should understand that prior to the psychological parenting revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s, there was no periodic swing in child rearing in America or any other culture. The evidence points to a parenting ethos that remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years (while everything else was changing).
This ethos consisted not of methodologies, but of timeless understandings concerning children and parental responsibilities, understandings that crossed cultural boundaries. It is, in fact, still being adhered to in cultures that have not turned to mental health professionals as the primary source of child-rearing guidance but still rely on community elders for parenting support and counsel.
In the cultures in question, children are everything American children were before “experts” determined that they had been anointed by some new age divinity to fix something that wasn’t broken: responsible, mannerly, respectful of adults, hard-working and trustworthy. As an example, a woman who recently spent two years working in rural African schools told me that it was not unusual to find over 100 children of all ages being taught in one large space by one teacher who was dealing with virtually zero behavior problems.
That is a hallucinogenic dream in America today, yet I have met a good number of American women who taught, solo, over 90 first graders at one time in the early 1950s. Without exception, they testify to orderly classrooms where discipline was not a major issue.
The major difference between then and now is that parents in the good old days understood their obligations to their neighbors, communities and culture whereas today’s parents do not have as good a grasp of these obligations. Today, the raising of the typical child is not about strengthening culture; it is all about the child and promoting his accomplishments. You know,…
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