“Mother love is a dangerous instrument. An instrument which may inflict a never healing wound . . . which may make infancy unhappy, adolescence a nightmare, an instrument which may wreck your adult son or daughter’s vocational future and their chances for marital happiness.” Parents were advised to “never hug or kiss [their children]. Never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when you say goodnight.
That was the common thinking backing the 1920’s when John B. Watson published his then well-respected book, Psychological Care of Infant and Child, The book is filled with the good doctor’s rigorous views on childcare. I cringed when I read his take on a mother’s love and affection. Anything short of ignoring them was considered coddling and indulgent-and presented a danger to the child’s development.
Then along came Spock-not THAT Spock-Dr Benjamin Spock, author of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. It was a best seller at the time, and throughout its 52 year history has held its place as second-best-selling-book of all time. Second only to the Bible. That is the book I wanted when I learned I was pregnant with my first child-I was 19. So, off to the book store I go…..
I knew it was a popular “go to” book, but didn’t realize until years later that it was groundbreaking in its approach to parenting.
I’ll share some of my favorite, sometimes life saving, material from the book:
- There are only two things a child will share willingly; communicable diseases and its mother’s age.
- You know more than you think you do.
- What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.
- The main source of good discipline is growing up in a loving family, being loved and learning to love in return.
But, this-THIS is what saved me as a young mother. AND it was on the first page. : )
Who is the “go to guru” of child care for mother’s today? Did Spock’s approach seem indulgent after the “children should be seen and not heard” period of child care?