Aries and DeMause make the assessment that children in the Middle Ages were not as important as the adults and were often overlooked. DeMause says the adults usually had three reactions to their children, which were projective reaction, reversal reaction, and empathetic reaction. Very rarely did the adults use the empathic reaction. In fact, according to DeMause’s article children were looked to as adults. So when children did what seem to be harmful or dangerous, their parents blamed them for knowing better or assumed they meant to do it on purpose. Aries states that the only difference between a child and an adult was their size. Both ...view middle of the document...
Today we face the same careless acts and accidents, but because times have changed, children deaths differ. Still, that does not mean all parents ignored their children.
Woman have always been nurturing of their babies in one way or another, even if it was not them nurturing their child themselves. Wealthy families had wet nurses who took care of their children while they were sick or simply doing other tasks. Often times the wet nurse would have an assistant to help the mother and the nurse to feed and rock the baby. Swaddling and breast feeding were very prevalent in the Middle Ages. Breast feeding was commonly practiced and wet nurses were popular in royal families. As for swaddling, the children were securely tied into their clothing. Parents knew that babies needed proper care and rather or not they were the ones hands on with their child they made sure someone was so the child did not go overlooked or ignored. Furthermore children were bathed, soothed, and even allowed play dates to help stimulate their cognitive growth. They understood the significance in child play and made sure to incorporate that time into their schedule. Very similar to today’s children, Middle Age children were given naps and schedules to abide by as well.
Although many people were not very literate, there were still some religious beliefs and practices that may have played a small part in some childhoods. A lot of the “how-to’s” on parenting came from the bible and religious writer’s like Giles of Rome. There were not many books or teachers to learn the advantages and disadvantages of certain parenting styles, so it was mostly learned from trial and error or readings from the biblical times. To those who did partake in the religious aspect of life believed that baptisms were very important. It was almost a ritual to baptize a child while still an infant so he or she could immediately be a Christian and protected from the sins of their ungodly world. They also feared that if the child was not baptized before his or her death, Jesus would not redeem them of their sins. To this minority group, children were like fallen angels and God’s blessing to them, so they should be treated with love and gratitude. Also, it was popular for these families to have photos of baby Jesus and Mary present in their homes. It was a positive resemblance of what families wanted to portray. There are a lot of families that hold the same beliefs and are very protective over their child. So if children were not important to these families of the Middle Ages they would not have been concerned about their child’s soul or well-being and where they may happen to them if they were ever out of their care.
One issue for parents of the twenty first century is possibly the habit of showing favoritism to one or more of their children or giving more to their first girl or boy. There very well could have been similar issues roaming about in the Middle Ages too, but to help eliminate sexual...