The Joys & Sorrows of Parenting


ROMANTICISM - For most of human history, people didn't worry about being good parents. Instead, it was the children who needed to be good. It was the child who carried the burden of living up to the demands and expectations of their parents- not the other way around.
Parenting is like being beaten to death with a soft pillow
In the olden days, the role of the parent was easily defined and sharply limited. Your job was to punish the children's failings and errors, pick a marriage partner for them or select and guide their career (and (if they behaved well and deserved your approval, leave them something in your will)
Then things began to change in Europe from the late 18th century onwards. The catalyst was a movement of ideas known as Romanticism. According to this ideology, a child was a special, privileged entity born with intuitive wisdom and insight. This small glorious creature was someone society in general and parents, in particular, could fail. All of a person's later problems were suddenly viewed as symptoms of parental neglect and confusion.

At the same time, Romanticism stressed that marriage should be based on love, so it was a matter for the child, not the parents, to decide: a career was to be the expression of one's true nature and, therefore, not matter for parental interference. The age-old injunction that children should honor their parents gave way to the idea (which now feels so natural) that parents should serve their children and may fail them in multiple ways. It began to be much, much harder to be a good parent.


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