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Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children
 
 



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Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children [Paperback]

Ann Hulbert
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 13, 2004
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, millions of anxious parents have turned to child-rearing manuals for reassurance. Instead, however, they have often found yet more cause for worry. In this rich social history, Ann Hulbert analyzes one hundred years of shifting trends in advice and discovers an ongoing battle between two main approaches: a “child-centered” focus on warmly encouraging development versus a sterner “parent-centered” emphasis on instilling discipline. She examines how pediatrics, psychology, and neuroscience have fueled the debates but failed to offer definitive answers. And she delves into the highly relevant and often turbulent personal lives of the popular advice-givers, from L. Emmett Holt and Arnold Gesell to Bruno Bettelheim and Benjamin Spock to the prominent (and ever conflicting) experts of today.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rather than a social history of how Americans have raised their children, Hulbert (The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford) offers an intellectual history of how children and parents have been studied in modern America. Here is the story of how Drs. Hall and Holt begat Drs. Gesell and Watson, who begat Dr. Spock and even Dr. Seuss, and how they in turn spawned an entire mini-industry of parenting experts. In spite of changes in terms or variations in thematic concerns, each generation of "experts" has been consistently bipolar, Hulbert finds: the "hard," parent-centered theorists fond of authority and discipline versus the "soft," child-centered theorists preaching love, bonding and liberty. With a flair for wordplay (paraphrasing Gesell's advice to parents to "walk-and speak-ever so softly, and carry a big chart") and a taste for irony (almost all the experts suffered from "mother's boy syndrome"), Hulbert documents the upbringings of the experts themselves, the fluctuations in their advice and the details of their downfalls. While few of these experts were as scientific as they claimed, they probably have managed to further parents' understanding of child development somewhat, admits Hulbert. The irony here-or perhaps it's a saving grace-is that parents, while eager for advice, rarely seem to have used it. This provocative and informative study is a model of lay scholarship. 15 photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Why a century of advice has failed.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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on September 11, 2013
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