Behavior of Puritans toward Their Children

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Massachusetts Child-Rearing Ways
In this reading by Daniel Fischer, it shows the ways the Puritans would treat their children. The Puritans believed that “all infants were born ignorant and empty of all good things.”(pg.88) so to help them they would “beat the devil out of them” as many Puritans would have said. They were also forced to do many things like stand when an elder walked in a room. Fortunately, these actions are not being practiced in the society today. The main purpose of child-rearing was called the “breaking of the will”; this would destroy the spirit in the child. According to John Robinson, he says that children have “spiritual dangers” that make the world corrupt. He also tells parent to be careful not to mention that the children “have a will of their own” (89) so they won’t be able to think for themselves. Another two Puritans, Samuel Sewall and Ralph Josselin, explain that the relationship between parent and child were “warm and affectionate” (89). Both of them disliked beating their children and would raise them by example and encouragement. One thing that the children were trained to acknowledge their elders and stand up when an adult walked in a room; nowadays children have the least respect for their elders. Another factor to child-rearing in Massachusetts was sending-out. Parents would send their children to other homes to be raised. The purpose was “to place a child close to a school, to prepare it for a calling, to remove it from a pestered place, or to put it in an intact family after the loss of a parent…to learn better manners and behavior in another home.”(90) Comparing that to today, it is highly unlikely that a parent would do that, many parents are very protective and wouldn’t even dare to let a stranger raise their child. Even though the parents talked to their child about sending-out, the child was held against its will. For example, Sewall had the unfortunate experience to send his daughter to Salem, that same situation...
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