The End of American Childhood by Paula S. Fass
A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child

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Yet she seems unaware of how deeply a kind of narcissistic bias infects her own vision of recent history. That’s a shame. The material Fass provides on America in the 19th and ­early-20th centuries is important, and highly relevant to the really essential issues driving parenting behavior in our day.
-NY Times

Synopsis

The End of American Childhood takes a sweeping look at the history of American childhood and parenting, from the nation's founding to the present day. Renowned historian Paula Fass shows how, since the beginning of the American republic, independence, self-definition, and individual success have informed Americans' attitudes toward children. But as parents today hover over every detail of their children's lives, are the qualities that once made American childhood special still desired or possible? Placing the experiences of children and parents against the backdrop of social, political, and cultural shifts, Fass challenges Americans to reconnect with the beliefs that set the American understanding of childhood apart from the rest of the world.

Fass examines how freer relationships between American children and parents transformed the national culture, altered generational relationships among immigrants, helped create a new science of child development, and promoted a revolution in modern schooling. She looks at the childhoods of icons including Margaret Mead and Ulysses S. Grant—who, as an eleven-year-old, was in charge of his father's fields and explored his rural Ohio countryside. Fass also features less well-known children like ten-year-old Rose Cohen, who worked in the drudgery of nineteenth-century factories. Bringing readers into the present, Fass argues that current American conditions and policies have made adolescence socially irrelevant and altered children's road to maturity, while parental oversight threatens children's competence and initiative.

Showing how American parenting has been firmly linked to historical changes, The End of American Childhood considers what implications this might hold for the nation's future.

 

About Paula S. Fass

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Paula S. Fass is professor of the Graduate School and the Margaret Byrne Professor of History Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. The author of Kidnapped and Children of a New World, she recently edited The Routledge History of Childhood in the Western World. Fass lives in Berkeley, California.
 
Published May 3, 2016 by Princeton University Press. 342 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The End of American Childhood
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average
on Mar 22 2016

In each scenario, Fass provides ample historical and scientific evidence to support her findings, giving readers a methodical, meticulous accounting of childhood in America over the past 200 years. An accessible academic analysis of the progression of American children’s lives since 1800.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Judith Warner on Jun 10 2016

...she seems unaware of how deeply a kind of narcissistic bias infects her own vision of recent history. That’s a shame. The material Fass provides on America in the 19th and ­early-20th centuries is important, and highly relevant...

Read Full Review of The End of American Childhood... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Judith Warner on Jun 10 2016

Yet she seems unaware of how deeply a kind of narcissistic bias infects her own vision of recent history. That’s a shame. The material Fass provides on America in the 19th and ­early-20th centuries is important, and highly relevant to the really essential issues driving parenting behavior in our day.

Read Full Review of The End of American Childhood... | See more reviews from NY Times
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