The Child Worshipers, II

More on The Child Worshipers. Lots of the fretting about upper-middle-class child rearing in this 1963 book is identical with the contemporary model. But there are some interesting differences:

  • “…one builder has noted that when people are building or buying houses, the first question they ask is about the tax rate; the second, except when it is the first, is about the schools.” If I read this right, in the 1960s it was weird and oversolicitous to make the local school system a primary concern when choosing a house; now it would be unusual not to, right?
  • A whole chapter about the worrying trend of parents bringing their children with them on vacation, and the resulting necessity suffered by resorts of making themselves appropriate places for children to visit. “People used to go on vacation to get away from the children. Now they plan their vacations around the children. It is a trend that we think will keep going strong for many years.” I guess they were right.
  • The biggest difference is what’s not in The Child Worshipers: in a whole book about overanxious parents who deform their whole lives in service to what they believe are the best interests of their kids, there is not a word about safety, and not a single anecdote about a parent keeping their kid from playing outside for fear of the child molester in the shrubbery. These parents are worried about whether their kids will be well-adjusted adults, not whether their children will survive to be adults.

My own “don’t talk to strangers” story: one day my friend’s aunt came to pick me up for Hebrew school, instead of his mother, as usual. I didn’t feel like going to Hebrew school that day. So I told the aunt — perfectly correctly — that my parents didn’t allow me to get in a car with an adult I didn’t know. Then I went back inside and shut the door. She honked a few times but I knew I was within the rules.

One thought on “The Child Worshipers, II

  1. Joshua says:

    With our child, circa 3 years old:
    mommy:”what do you say if a stranger offers you chocolate?”
    mommy:”No, think again”
    child hesitates.

    FWIW: bullet 1, as you quote it, doesn’t sound different from today. In both cases, it is common.
    bullet 3, also doesn’t sound different from the myriad parenting books and columns I’ve read. Safety and stranger hysteria are so common they don’t even need to be mentioned.

    Bullet 2: is it legal to take a vacation without the kids? really? What country? I simply don’t believe it.

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