Thursday, April 18, 2013

"If stages of life are artifacts, parenthood seems, at first, different. There have always been parents, and parents have always been besotted by their children, awestruck by their impossible beauty, dopey high jinks, and strange little minds. But the word 'parenthood' dates only to the middle of the nineteenth century, and the notion that parenthood is a distinct stage of life, shared by men and women is, historically in its infancy. An ordinary life used to look something like this: born into a growing family, you help raise your siblings, have the first of your own half dozen or even dozen children soon after you're grown, and die before you youngest has left home."

- Jill Lepore, The Mansion of Happiness

"Once it was believed that the very physical fact of parenthood brought with it an instinctive wisdom that enabled one to rear children wisely and well. Parents knew best. Today fathers and mothers are unwilling to struggle under such a load of self-imposed omniscience. Even if they were, the facts would be against them. For in this country various studies made in the last ten years present incontrovertible data to prove that devoted but unenlightened parenthood is a dangerous factor in the lives of children."

- Parents' Magazine, 1930

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