Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Childrearing Doesn't Change

A 1550 treatise on the proper raising of children:
Nature, when she geueth the a sonne, she geueth nothyng else, thẽ a rude lumpe of fleshe. It is thy parte to fashiõ after ye best maner, that matter that will obey & folow in euery poynt. If thou wylt slacke to do it, thou hast a beaste: if thou take hede thou hast, as I myght saye, a God.
Or, in slightly more modern English:
Nature, when she giveth thee a son, she giveth nothing else than a rude lump of flesh. It is thy part to fashion after the best manner that matter that will obey and follow in every point. If thou wilt slack to do it, thou hast a beast: if thou take heed thou hast, as I might say, a God.
It's really intriguing to see that not much really has changed about childrearing over the last 500 years. I was particularly struck by the author's annoyance at people not beginning to discipline their children until well after the age of six. I guess "feral kids" were a problem even before there were restaurants for them to run around and scream in.