Love to the Little Ones: The Trials and Triumphs of Parents Through the Ages in Letters, Diaries, Memoirs and Essays

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9780711229402: Love to the Little Ones: The Trials and Triumphs of Parents Through the Ages in Letters, Diaries, Memoirs and Essays
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Parents today tend to believe that they face more problems in bringing up their children than ever before. They are certainly offered more advice — from professional childcare experts, from other parents, and from the government. This anthology shows how mothers and fathers themselves have thought about and written to their children over the last 800 years, using examples from letters, diaries, and books of advice. The book is divided into five phases of a parent's life: pregnancy through infancy; childhood; adolescence; adulthood; and death. Readers find that the fundamental feelings of parents now and parents then seem to be unchanged. Their affections, their anxieties, their hopes, their difficulties, and their grief transcend time. The book also highlights the dramatic differences between then and now. Letters and diaries include the predicament of a mother trying to mediate between her son and his father, 400 years ago, and an 18th-century father who advises his friend to read to his pregnant wife every night.

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About the Author:

Louisa Lane Fox was co-founder of the Last Word Lunchtime Lectures. Her husband is the architectural critic and landscape designer Charles Jencks. She is a mother, stepmother and grandmother.

Review:


Every generation of parents hems and haws about how difficult parenting is, and how different things were when they were younger. Louisa Lane Fox's book Love to the Little Ones: The Trials and Triumphs of Parents Through the Ages in Letters, Diaries, Memoirs, and Essays seeks to prove them wrong. She has collected samples from letters, memoirs, diaries, and books dating as far back as the 1400s that demonstrate that parents continue to have the same concerns even after centuries of change.

The selections cover the entire gamut of childhood, starting with the writers' thoughts on pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, through childhood, adolescence, and adult children. There is also a final section that deals with the death of a child. Examples are given by literary greats, such as Daniel Defoe, John Milton, Rudyard Kipling, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and even Oscar Wilde, amongst numerous other famous figures. Other examples tend to represent the middle to upper class society over the centuries, as their written works were more likely to be preserved.

It is fairly interesting to listen to the complaints of the woman almost six hundred years ago who is concerned about getting so fat while pregnant or the woman from two hundred years ago complain of her sister's lack of control over her own children. Similar sentiments are echoed regularly in today's society, though the verbiage may be different.

But readers should know that this is not a book that is designed to sit down and read through in a matter of hours. Instead, it is designed to be perused on occasion, soaking up a couple of stories per sitting. It serves well as a coffee table book, or a read for other special places where one requires a few minutes of entertainment. And being British, it will be drier than contemporary juicy Americana.

Those who will appreciate this book the most are those who are fascinated by family and history. Others who love to study how the English language has evolved over the centuries will be entranced by spelling and phrasing changes. Teachers and professors of history and of the English language will find this book a useful supplement in their curricula. From Andi's book Reviews

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