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Child-Rearing in Western Europe

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1 Child-Rearing in Western Europe
Daniel Son Per. 6

2 Prompt: 2001 – Analyze how and why Western European attitudes toward children and child-rearing changed in the period from 1750 – 1900.

3 Traditional Agrarian Europe
Women usually married late (30) but bore many children until death (45) About 50% had 6 or more children 1 in 5 were likely to die young 1 in 3 infants died in poorer areas Fatal diseases usually afflicted the stomach and chest Even the rich couldn’t save their children Adults were often indifferent, neglectful and abusive towards their children

4 Nursing Lower class mothers saved lives by breast-feeding their young for a longer period than normal Milk provided necessary nutrients and immunities Upper-class mothers left wet-nurses to take care of their children Wet-nurses were hired women who fed the babies of the upper-class at the expense of nursing their own children Many wet-nurses were accused of passing down bad habits Some nurses were alleged to have killed the babies of their clients in order to get more money from other clients

5 Infanticide Newborns, especially girls, were commonly left to die when families became too large The Church denounced infanticide and sentenced violators to death There were different methods of eliminating babies: killing nurses, overlaying (“accidental” suffocation), etc. Abortion was illegal, dangerous, and rare

6 Foundlings Young mothers began to leave babies at church doorsteps when they could not care for them Saint Vincent de Paul established a foundling home (orphanage) because of the number of abandoned babies Foundling homes became popular across Europe and they became a favorite charity for the rich Even at the best of the homes, infants suffered a 50% mortality rate

7 Attitude Towards Children
Children of all socioeconomic classes were put “out of sight and out of mind” Frequent child deaths greatly influenced the lack of emotional bonding with parents and their children Doctors and clergymen encouraged emotional detachment, but this led to disciplinary abuse “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” – Daniel Defoe Jean-Jacques Rousseau called for more love and tenderness as well as more comfortable clothes Parents delighted in loving their children which resulted in a greater optimism about human potential

8 Analysis How? Why? Mothers began to breast-feed their children longer
Infanticide was penalized and foundling homes were established Children became more loved and formed emotional bonds with their parents Why? Less children were born and more of them survived The Church did not approve of infanticide and took pity on the abandoned children Critics called for the better treatment of children and this also caused a growth in optimism about human potential

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