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The Role of Children in Colonial New England

Topics: Family / Pages: 3 (631 words) / Published: Dec 6th, 2011
A revolution has taken place in family life since colonial times. In recent years, families have gone through many disconcerting and disruptive changes. But if family life today seems unsettled, so, too, was family life in the past. The family's roles and functions, size and composition, and emotional and power dynamics have all changed dramatically over time. Perhaps the biggest difference between families then and now is that colonial society placed relatively little importance on familial privacy.
In colonial America, the family was, first and foremost, a unit of production. It also performed a variety of educational, religious and welfare functions that were later expected by other private and public institutions. The family educated children in basic literacy and the basics of religion; it transmitted work-related skills; and it cared for the elderly and sick. Children were taught things that children today are not taught so strictly. They had a somewhat good idea when they would send their children to another house to learn. People tend to have more respect for others then for those in their own household.
Most families today don’t have much control over their children as they did back then. Parents still teach their children some of the things they did back then but it has completely changed. The basics are still around. Since women are now considered equal to men and don’t have to only care for their families has made a big difference. It has affected both the mothers and the children too. Women now seek careers equal to men. You now see young women learning trades that only men would learn. Daughters are encouraged to strive for a higher education and at the same time to learn the basics of running a house. Sons are also encouraged to strive for a higher learning and to be a responsible head of the household.
Although it is a great thing that women are able to work equally as men do it has had its negative side also. Having both parents working leaves less time spent with the children. Although it worked well back then it doesn’t always now. Before the children were sent off to be a apprentices. Now, some children are left with babysitters or nannies if lucky. For those who aren’t as lucky, usually the oldest child is forced to grow up to quickly and care for the younger siblings. An only child might have to grow up quickly and care for themselves. This has led to some children being much more responsible than others later in life.
Over the years not only did the parenting change but also the way children behaved and respected their parents. In colonial English times children honored their parents and were very humble in their presence. They feared disappointing them more than most children today. Some families are still like that but not because the children are sent away but because the parents are very strict and don’t easily give in to the children. In the other hand there are children that have no respect for their parents. This may be because the parents are always working or done things that lead to losing others respect. Children feared and respected their parents more than they do now.
In conclusion, it is clear how over the years family structures have evolved in the way they teach and discipline their children. Many things have led to all these changes. The things that remain the same might have been influenced a lot by things of the past. Everything around us can be learned from. It all just depends if you use it in a positive or negative way. Everything changes in time whether it is in a big way or not so noticeable.

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