chapter  1
Childhood, parents and the family: 1500–1900
ByLinda Pollock
Pages 16

The historiographical debate over whether or not there was a concept of childhood in the past, whether or not children were severely disciplined in the past and whether or not parents and children in the family had an affectionate relationship now seems unproductive and unimaginative. The value placed on children and childhood in the past can be seen from the number of rituals surrounding these. Many texts were published on the proper upbringing of children, all based on the assumption those children’s minds and characters were malleable and that they could be trained for adulthood. Most children in the past, though, lived in abject poverty and life was much more difficult for the very poor. Even though historians have concentrated on parent–child relations, many other people were involved in child care in the past. Putting children to fulltime work is now unacceptable in the West, but children continue to work in developing countries and after school in the wealthy West.