16th And 17th Century Child Care And Child Discipline In Europe

1530 words - 6 pages

The children of Europe in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds lived lives that greatly differed from the lives of modern children. Fatality was extremely common among the youth, which caused them to be seen differently in society. Families also consisted of a larger amount of people than they usually do today. To teach kids discipline and morality, some parents and teachers used reasoning to articulate as why to a certain act or behavior is considered disrespectful. On the contrary, other parents used harsh punishments, either because they didn't love their children, or simply believed that it was the only way to ensure that their child would never commit the act that warranted such a consequence again. Other children were extremely obedient and cherished very much by their parents.
Reason was a solution for some when it came to disciplinary measures with their children. This was the route that the mother of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, took, as described in a letter written by Cavendish from Colchester, England in the 1620s. Cavendish kindly describes that her mother did not use torture or threats to keep her and her siblings in line, only logic. They were given explanations instead of beatings. This assisted them in actually understanding why what they were doing was wrong, instead of just being told it was wrong. Because of this logical upbringing, she is obviously a proponent of this technique, which explains the detailing of her childhood in this letter. An English, Catholic gentlemen also took pride in a reasonable approach to childcare. In Lancashire, England William Blundell preformed a dialog with his nine-year-old daughter called “An Exercise for the Children to Embolden Them in Speaking” in 1663. This dialog genuinely depicts how understanding helps a child more than pain. His daughter even repents on her own upon learning of her wrongs. Since this was publicly preformed, Blundell could have used this dialog as an attempt to spread his logical parenting practices to others. Along with Cavendish and Blundell, English philosopher and physician, John Locke, advocated a rational approach to parenting. In his 1693 work, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”, published in London, he writes about his views on parent to child relationships. Locke is known for writing about the basic freedoms that everyone should have, and children are no different in his eyes. He educates parents with this publication, pointing out that every child is still a rational creature and should be treated as such. However, they should still not be held to the standards of adults, as so many did during the time period. This rationale that Lock tried to propel with this piece is similar to the one referred to today in regard to the up-bringing of children. In correlation with Locke's ideals, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher who wrote Émile or On Education in Amsterdam in 1672, agrees that parents need to be somewhat lenient with adolescents. He advises...

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