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Old 01-23-2020, 03:58 PM
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When in history did raising a newborn begin to be seen as grueling?


When in human history did people parenting a newborn begin to have the luxury of considering it really hard work? It feels like a fairly recent thing - I doubt mothers and fathers in the middle ages or even pilgrim and Oregon Trail days spent a lot of time complaining about how little sleep they got and how much work a newborn is, but I also get the sense that advice like "sleep when the baby sleeps" that suggests it's really difficult predates the last 40-50 years when a lot of women joined the workforce. Did this attitude spring up instead when people began having fewer babies?
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Old 01-23-2020, 04:51 PM
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I dunno; ancient texts that talk about parenthood all seem to take it for granted that it's a lot of work.
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Old 01-23-2020, 05:07 PM
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Just a really wild guess here, but perhaps when men started to do more than about 10% of the work. So about 1974ish...
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Old 01-23-2020, 05:11 PM
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Considering in the Middle ages ladies would Hire wet nurses so they didn't have to deal with feeding their kids I would assume even back then they thought parenting would be better if you could get out of the terrible parts. My guess is you're looking at at least a 1,000 years ago.
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Old 01-23-2020, 05:28 PM
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Old 01-23-2020, 05:30 PM
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My thinking is that it started to seem as grueling when working outside the house (on a farm or office or factory) was worse. Now that most outside jobs aren't very challenging, dealing with a baby seems arduous by comparison.
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Old 01-23-2020, 05:47 PM
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I recall reading that up until the late 1700's - early 1800, people generally slept in two segments a night. They'd sleep from a couple of hours past dusk for about 4 hours, wake up for a couple of hours and then go back to sleep. How little sleep someone gets depends on what they are doing besides taking care of the newborn - a woman who is doing non-time sensitive household tasks and who can sleep during the day when the baby does will not be nearly as sleep-deprived as one who has to get up at 6 to go to work, or care for slightly older children and then pretty much stay awake until evening.
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:16 PM
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:57 PM
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Considering in the Middle ages ladies would Hire wet nurses so they didn't have to deal with feeding their kids I would assume even back then they thought parenting would be better if you could get out of the terrible parts. My guess is you're looking at at least a 1,000 years ago.
Yes, and the hiring of wetnurses goes back to ancient times, not just the comparatively recent medieval era. Cf., e.g., the recommendations of the medical author Soranus of Ephesus in the 1st/2nd c. CE:
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Concern over the mother growing prematurely old or becoming emaciated due to breast feeding provoked Soranus of Ephesus to recommend selecting a nurse. He went even further in recommending the mother only if she shows the characteristics of the best wet-nurse. [...]

Soranus recommended the provision of as many wet-nurses as available so that the child would be safely and successfully nourished. [...]

Doctors insisted that the nurse should be prudent, clean, tidy, not ill-tempered, sympathetic, merry, easy going, gentle and self-controlled in relation to drinking and sexuality. [...]

Soranus allowed her to be a little older, between twenty and forty, for "younger women are not experienced in child upbringing; they are still careless and childish in their minds. [...]" [...]

Surviving Greek nursing contracts and acknowledgments of receipt of wages for nursing from Roman Egypt indicate that free nurses outnumber slave ones. [...]

[...] some contracts show that the baby is nursed at the nurse's home. They clearly oblige the nurse to nurse only one baby at a time. [...]

Nurses were prohibited not only from spoiling their milk but also from having sexual intercourse. Both doctors and laymen prohibited the nurse from sleeping with men. Whereas doctors explained the reasons, contracts remained silent. Doctors feared that sexual intercourse would diminish, spoil and even suppress milk as it either induces menstruation (Mnesitheus did not recommend the nurse whose menses had begun again) or leads eventually to conception.
So the care and feeding of an infant was considered physically taxing to the extent that women who could afford the cost routinely outsourced it to adult professionals, for whom the care of one child (or even the shared care of one child, if multiple nurses were employed) provided a living. That sounds to me as though infant care was consciously recognized as a big and demanding job.

Remember also that ancient (male) writers tend to take the grueling labor of all working-class and slave employees, particularly the female ones, for granted as an unremarkable feature of ordinary life. The fact that surviving texts don't express a lot of sympathy about the burdens of childrearing doesn't mean that it wasn't recognized as burdensome.
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:49 PM
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When in human history did people parenting a newborn begin to have the luxury of considering it really hard work? It feels like a fairly recent thing - I doubt mothers and fathers in the middle ages or even pilgrim and Oregon Trail days spent a lot of time complaining about how little sleep they got and how much work a newborn is, but I also get the sense that advice like "sleep when the baby sleeps" that suggests it's really difficult predates the last 40-50 years when a lot of women joined the workforce. Did this attitude spring up instead when people began having fewer babies?
I'd guess it started around the time that factory work became common, and mobility created the "nuclear family." When everyone in the family worked at home - as farmers or piece workers, and when multiple families (parents, adult siblings, and their families) shared a household, the work of caring for a child was shared among multiple people, but when Dad goes off to the factory for 12 or 14 hours, and grandma and two aunts no longer are around to help out, the job gets a lot harder (and there's no one to talk to about it either). Also big families create a lot of older siblings to help out as well - if you have a fourteen year old, a 12 year old, twin 10 year olds, a four year old and a baby, the work isn't six times as bad as caring for one baby is - because the older brothers and sisters can help.
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:04 PM
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I couldn't tell you when it started, but it's gotten more difficult over time.

We now have fewer children, and we invest more time and resources into them. (Sometimes to incredible lengths, re worst helicopter parent stories of adult children.) Basic tasks like walking to school have become delayed (and that's assuming you live close to school, which is not a guarantee) so the parents have to walk with the kids or drive them everywhere... and you don't dare let them take public transit because that means you're a "bad parent" who are letting your children face risk.

Children have become more expensive. Every kid needs their own room, their own smartphone, maybe their own laptop. Because some parents schedule their kids lives, those kids are going to camps, piano lessons, after-school clubs, etc. Many of these things cost money. You need to save up for the kids' education, and maybe you'll let them live with you rent-free after they've entered the workforce.
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:11 PM
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I recall reading that up until the late 1700's - early 1800, people generally slept in two segments a night.
Not true.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26480842

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How did humans sleep before the modern era? Because the tools to measure sleep under natural conditions were developed long after the invention of the electric devices suspected of delaying and reducing sleep, we investigated sleep in three preindustrial societies [1-3]. We find that all three show similar sleep organization, suggesting that they express core human sleep patterns, most likely characteristic of pre-modern era Homo sapiens. Sleep periods, the times from onset to offset, averaged 6.9-8.5 hr, with sleep durations of 5.7-7.1 hr, amounts near the low end of those industrial societies [4-7]. There was a difference of nearly 1 hr between summer and winter sleep. Daily variation in sleep duration was strongly linked to time of onset, rather than offset. None of these groups began sleep near sunset, onset occurring, on average, 3.3 hr after sunset. Awakening was usually before sunrise. The sleep period consistently occurred during the nighttime period of falling environmental temperature, was not interrupted by extended periods of waking, and terminated, with vasoconstriction, near the nadir of daily ambient temperature. The daily cycle of temperature change, largely eliminated from modern sleep environments, may be a potent natural regulator of sleep. Light exposure was maximal in the morning and greatly decreased at noon, indicating that all three groups seek shade at midday and that light activation of the suprachiasmatic nucleus is maximal in the morning. Napping occurred on <7% of days in winter and <22% of days in summer. Mimicking aspects of the natural environment might be effective in treating certain modern sleep disorders.
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Old 01-24-2020, 10:57 AM
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Quoth Kimstu:

Remember also that ancient (male) writers tend to take the grueling labor of all working-class and slave employees, particularly the female ones, for granted as an unremarkable feature of ordinary life.
As evidenced in the whole concept of the wetnurse. Those quotes take it for granted that it takes the nursing of multiple women to raise a single child... and yet, all of those wetnurses are nursing a child of their own in addition to the wealthy kid. How were the nurses' children supposed to survive?
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:09 AM
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At the risk of expanding the OP, ISTM that it is not just infants, but all aspects of childrearing that have increasingly presented as more demanding. At the same time, more and more of young adults' shortcomings seem attributed to parental choices/actions/inactions.

Of course, in olden days, more infants/kids died young... But absent neglect by the parents, or unusual health issues w/ the kid, I think babies/kids are tougher than they are given credit for, and the range of acceptable parental effort pretty broad. I think increased wealth and leisure play a large part in the increased emphasis placed on childrearing. I also think that 2-income households mae clear how much work raising a child (ad maintaining a household) is.
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:14 AM
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I am sure that Mrs Ugg in her cave thought that raising baby Uggs was hard work; waking up every few hours to feed the little blighter has always been a requirement unless some other lactating female was able to help out.

Of course, she didn't have social media to publish her problems on, and she would also have an extended family around to help out with any babies that actually survived past infancy.

Might I also add, that even today, not all babies are tremendously hard work. Our two were sleeping 6 or 7 hours a night from a few weeks old. Our granddaughter did much the same.
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:49 AM
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I think it has always been hard and taxing. What I think has changed is that venting about it openly has become socially acceptable. I was fortunate enough to know my great grandmother. She lived in a rural area and gave birth to all of her children at home with the help of only a neighbor. Even then, the neighbor was only there for the birth of the child, as she had to get home and tend to her own household. My great grandma talked about how she delivered all of her kids in the morning and still managed to have supper on the table when great grandpa got home. Back in those days, women were just expected to do it all and not complain.
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:50 AM
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Remember also that ancient (male) writers tend to take the grueling labor of all working-class and slave employees, particularly the female ones, for granted as an unremarkable feature of ordinary life. The fact that surviving texts don't express a lot of sympathy about the burdens of childrearing doesn't mean that it wasn't recognized as burdensome.
More to the point, the often rich, educated or at least well off, in other words the cohort whose works are most likely to have survived and who would be most inured from child-raising and its problems, both in space and in the sense of being able to afford sufficient help.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:23 PM
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Back in those days, women were just expected to do it all and not complain.
I think that's the telling sentence... Prior to the 1970s, most women were homemakers and stay-at-home moms, so raising babies and children was in a sense, considered to be their job, at least in terms of contributing to the family unit.

But after the 1970s, more and more women have participated in the workforce in more and more professional and responsible capacities.

So when you're a full-time employee, and you're suddenly thrust into caring for this little lump who cries, craps and pees on a schedule, and then at random as well, it's not unsurprising that this disruption to their "normal" schedule would make them complain about how difficult it is.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:29 PM
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As evidenced in the whole concept of the wetnurse. Those quotes take it for granted that it takes the nursing of multiple women to raise a single child... and yet, all of those wetnurses are nursing a child of their own in addition to the wealthy kid. How were the nurses' children supposed to survive?
I thought that wetnurses were generally mothers whose own children had been weaned or whose children had died (which was common enough in those difficult days). But I could well be wrong about this.
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:23 PM
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(About segmented sleep / wakefulness in the middle of the night in pre-industrial societies.)

That's an interesting study.

This article talks about the studies and the book that asserted that sleep was segmented in those societies.

(I don't care either way, I just wanna get some sleep.)
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:50 PM
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I thought that wetnurses were generally mothers whose own children had been weaned or whose children had died (which was common enough in those difficult days). But I could well be wrong about this.
Jared Diamond, in The World Until Yesterday describes that most societies used to nurse children until about age 3. So women can continue to produce milk for a while as long as the demand continues, and I assume in many cases the job became possible as a mother weaned her own child.
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:54 PM
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I thought that wetnurses were generally mothers whose own children had been weaned or whose children had died (which was common enough in those difficult days). But I could well be wrong about this.
I'm sure some were, but it was common practice, at least in the UK when wet nursing was common for the upper classes for the wet nurse to place her own baby with a cheaper nurse, who may well be looking after her own baby and possibly others as well- or that baby could be placed with an even cheaper nurse.

If you're wondering how the cheaper nurses manage to properly care for a selection of babies at once, unfortunately the answer is that they often didn't. The death rate went up the lower down the scale they got.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:27 PM
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Who would trust their baby to a woman who can't care for her own?
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:17 PM
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I think it has always been hard and taxing. What I think has changed is that venting about it openly has become socially acceptable. I was fortunate enough to
know my great grandmother. She lived in a rural area and gave birth to all of her children at home with the help of only a neighbor. Even then, the neighbor was only there for the birth of the child, as she had to get home and tend to her own household. My great grandma talked about how she delivered all of her kids in the morning and still managed to have supper on the table when great grandpa got home. Back in those days, women were just expected to do it all and not complain.
Single family, and even the one woman who helped went somewhere else "to her own household".

Form the descriptions I've read, it doesn't seem to be such a big deal in shared-care societies.

FWIW: in a shared care society, nobody notices if the baby is sick and dying. If the kid's crying, you pass it on to somebody else. If the kid's not eating, it's already eaten with somebody else.
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:31 PM
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At the risk of expanding the OP, ISTM that it is not just infants, but all aspects of childrearing that have increasingly presented as more demanding. At the same time, more and more of young adults' shortcomings seem attributed to parental choices/actions/inactions.

Of course, in olden days, more infants/kids died young... But absent neglect by the parents, or unusual health issues w/ the kid, I think babies/kids are tougher than they are given credit for, and the range of acceptable parental effort pretty broad. I think increased wealth and leisure play a large part in the increased emphasis placed on childrearing. I also think that 2-income households mae clear how much work raising a child (ad maintaining a household) is.
It's a bit of a no-true-scotsman to say "as long as it's not neglect". I mean, neglect is a pretty flexible term. Heck, there's a long history of giving opium to babies, for example. These days we do think babies need to have stimulation--to hear people talk, to interact with people, to try different foods, see new things, to be played with. My grandmother had 12 kids. I think pretty much all of them spent toddler hood--that range between being the baby and aging out to being thrown in the yard--in a baby-gated dining room where they were expected to amuse themselves and not bother mother under any circumstances. Physical safety was pretty much all they were provided with. It sounds incredibly sterile to me--I'd call it neglectful. So yeah, if you are willing to raise your kids like that, they get a lot easier to raise. I found a toddler grueling because I felt it was important to spend time taking him to the grocery store, the park, and the library, reading to him, singing to him, playing endless games of chase and all that. Do you feel like that sort of thing--the sort of thing that's now the standard way we raise kids--is mostly a useless indulgence? That parents that do all that and then find parenting "grueling" are like a fool who puts a hole in the bottom of the bucket and then complains that it's so hard to fill with water?

I read once that Europeans think Americans are weirdly obsessed with how soon the baby sleeps through the night--we have books and blogs and seminars and specialty doctors, and they have none of that. In the discussion that followed, someone suggested this was an outgrowth of the fact that American parental leave is so crap: both parents often have to be back at work within a few months of the baby's birth. Staying home with a baby is challenging, but if are working at about 85% of your normal IQ, you aren't endangering your career and letting down your co-workers. You aren't going to lose clients or get written up because you made mistakes or ruin a piece of expensive equipment. It's a big deal to go back to work and show that nothing has changed, that you've still "got it". So when this little force of nature that absolutely cannot be reasoned with makes it impossible to sleep, it's awful.
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Old 01-24-2020, 10:05 PM
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So many posts in this thread make me wish for a "like" button.

I'm childless by choice. There was a time I thought I might go there, when I was deep into a relationship with a man who was very vocal about wanting kids. But I came to realize he wasn't really committed to doing his fair share around the time our relationship was falling apart for other reasons, and now I see that whole situation as a dodged bullet. (Shortly before we broke up, he remarked out of the blue that he didn't ever want to have to go to any youth soccer games; he wanted to spend his weekends playing golf. He was sure our kids would understand.)

A colleague of mine reminds me of me in a parallel universe. She never felt any particular desire to have kids, but her husband was adamant. She birthed two, but she really has three because that motherfucker is dead weight. He does none of the housework, none of the real work of parenting, and as of a few years ago he doesn't even have a job. She ran the numbers and decided divorce was more trouble than it was worth, but she might revisit that once the kids are grown. She loves her little girls, but she confided in me she never would have had them if she had known it would be like this.

I see this play out to a lesser extent all around me. Among almost all of the opposite-sex couples I know who are my age and reproducing, he was the one who wanted kids more, and she's still doing the lion's share of the work. And even then, the boys just can't believe how hard it was to get up with the baby at 3 a.m. that one time.

I have to admit, I was relieved when my now-husband brought up kids on maybe the fifth or sixth date to say he definitely didn't want them. Even with two very involved and committed parents to split the workload, babies are a ridiculous amount of work. And after what I've seen, although I know good dads are out there, I don't feel I can trust myself to pick one out before the meconium hits the diaper.
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:14 AM
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Quoth Manda JO:

My grandmother had 12 kids. I think pretty much all of them spent toddler hood--that range between being the baby and aging out to being thrown in the yard--in a baby-gated dining room where they were expected to amuse themselves and not bother mother under any circumstances. Physical safety was pretty much all they were provided with.
In a family that large, that's surprising. My grandmother had 11, which meant that there was always some older sibling or other who wanted to play.
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:18 AM
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In families that large, the younger kids are cared for by their siblings.
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Old 01-25-2020, 12:08 PM
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In a family that large, that's surprising. My grandmother had 11, which meant that there was always some older sibling or other who wanted to play.
I think it was like from 12 month to 3 that they were in the dining room. Later they were let free to roam. Little toddlers really aren't that fun to play with for older kids. They can't talk, can't share or take turns, can't follow rules or directions of any complexity. They can't physically keep up.
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Old 01-25-2020, 12:13 PM
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Getting rid of unwanted children via exposure was well known in classical times.

Weren't able to raise a baby? Take it out in the wilderness and leave it. This was not something people did for fun. Raising (esp. feeding) the kid was going to be too difficult.

A famous example of something like this was Oedipus who was taken out to the wilderness to die of exposure (after getting his ankles pierced). But due to a prophecy rather than hardship. OTOH, the shepherd who raised him may well have assumed that hardship was the reason. That shepherd apparently did not know of Oed's royal background and therefore did not know about the real reason for the exposure.

Presumably exposure went back a lot farther, we just don't have written sources documenting it.

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Old 01-25-2020, 12:28 PM
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Two parents and a baby is a nightmare and I'm thinking it always has been. The baby's cry acts on the human brain like putting your hand down a hot stove. Or stepping on a Lego brick. Magically, getting just one person to help out transforms the whole dynamic. That can be a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, neighbor, brother or sister. History seems full of ways to take the stress off the couple. In western society though, the US anyway, we seem to expect couples to raise their first kid by themselves, which doesn't seem to be how it is supposed to work.
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Old 01-25-2020, 12:41 PM
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Who would trust their baby to a woman who can't care for her own?
When I was in Japan, we had a maid that took care of me a baby during the day. My Mom said she either had a baby or young child of her own. Never asked how that worked, the baby/child definitely wasn't at our house. The way I see it, caring for someone else's baby is a job like any other, especially if you gotta do, what you gotta do to make a living.

As for being a burden. One of my co-workers who as very well off and didn't have to work, had a babysitter who, if she (the co-worker) worked later than she planned to, would pay more for the babysitter than she earned that day!

I told a friend that I thought children were a burden (thankfully, I have none), and he said they're not. This from a guy was divorced and saw his kids one day on the weekend, and later remarried, had a kid and divorced, then fall back on his child support payments.
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:55 PM
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Considering in the Middle ages ladies would Hire wet nurses so they didn't have to deal with feeding their kids I would assume even back then they thought parenting would be better if you could get out of the terrible parts. My guess is you're looking at at least a 1,000 years ago.
But weren't wet nurses mostly for the rich?
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:51 PM
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Fortunately, most parents selectively forget the grueling part of the first few months of child rearing, otherwise no one would have more children. You tend as parents to remember the good parts.

As far as people have very large numbers of children, that's primarily due to the lack of birth control, and/or religious reasons for not using birth control once that it became more available.
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:53 PM
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But weren't wet nurses mostly for the rich?
I always thought so too, but it mentions in Wikipedia's article about them that in 18th century France in France 90% of babies were being cared for by wet nurses
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:55 PM
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In families that large, the younger kids are cared for by their siblings.
Also wasn't child rearing more communal in ancient times? Lots of aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc involved in the child care and child rearing activities?
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Old 01-25-2020, 11:34 PM
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Prior to the 1970s, most women were homemakers and stay-at-home moms, so raising babies and children was in a sense, considered to be their job, at least in terms of contributing to the family unit.
Only if what you mean by "most women" is "most middle-class women in wealthy societies for about the previous hundred years".

The vast majority of women in general throughout history performed various types of livelihood-dependent work in addition to being "homemakers and stay-at-home moms". Whether they worked for income or produced resources for direct use within the family, their work was much broader than the cooking/cleaning/childcare tasks that we now associate with "homemakers and stay-at-home moms".

The idea that women's proper "sphere" is confined to caring for her home, husband and children and shouldn't involve being an economic producer is quite a recent development, and has never applied to the majority of the world's women.
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:35 AM
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Quoth Manda JO:

I think it was like from 12 month to 3 that they were in the dining room. Later they were let free to roam. Little toddlers really aren't that fun to play with for older kids. They can't talk, can't share or take turns, can't follow rules or directions of any complexity. They can't physically keep up.
Dolls are even less capable of all of those things, and yet children still play with dolls. And yeah, most of the play with babies is similar to play with dolls, but it's still stimulating for the baby.
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Old 01-26-2020, 09:19 AM
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But weren't wet nurses mostly for the rich?
I used ladies in my post to refer to nobel ladies. So, yes, I meant the rich. But just because something sucks for the rich doesn't mean it doesn't suck for the poor it just means that the rich have a way to escape the suck. So its still proof raising a child was enough of a suck that if you could you paid someone else to deal with it.

In reading the other post responding to you, I had no idea it was that prevalent. I guess that implies that the service wasn't very expensive or possibly that breast feeding is and was harder than they tell new moms today.
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Old 01-26-2020, 09:35 AM
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Woman's rights seem to factor into this, before women had semi-equal status as men they didn't have the choice, it just was what it was. So no use in complaining as it would go nowhere if you did. Women's opinion was not given weight. Now that it is different and more equal those complaints are now heard more and more people (men) have to acknowledge it.
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Old 01-26-2020, 10:01 AM
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I'm going with this.
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Just a really wild guess here, but perhaps when men started to do more than about 10% of the work. So about 1974ish...
Of course it's always been grueling to care for a newborn. Chinese custom is that a new mom isn't supposed to have any other responsibilities at all. Ancient peoples routinely exposed newborns when they didn't have the capacity to care for them. Wealthy people have always hired help for new babies. Grandmas have always come over to help with a newborn. Heck, there's an argument that the reason humans have menopause is so grandmas have the energy to help their daughters rear children. (Although i don't know if that explains killer whales, the other mammal that had menopause.)

Toddlers and other children are more work today because we have enormously higher standards for how much time parents should spend with them than in the past, and because we now have work that can't be done with your kids in tow. But newborns have always been extremely taxing.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:24 PM
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...These days we do think babies need to have stimulation--to hear people talk, to interact with people, to try different foods, see new things, to be played with. My grandmother had 12 kids. ... So yeah, if you are willing to raise your kids like that, they get a lot easier to raise. I found a toddler grueling because I felt it was important to spend time taking him to the grocery store, the park, and the library, reading to him, singing to him, playing endless games of chase and all that. Do you feel like that sort of thing--the sort of thing that's now the standard way we raise kids--is mostly a useless indulgence? That parents that do all that and then find parenting "grueling" are like a fool who puts a hole in the bottom of the bucket and then complains that it's so hard to fill with water?
...
I think our difference reflects where we may fall WRT trends in parenting. I am not advocating a return to "spare the rod/seen but not heard" days. (Not to mention - pop out a dozen and then corral them in the dining room. You SERIOUSLY offer such an extreme as ANYTHING approaching a meaningful datapoint?) But I see far too many families in which the dynamic seems to be dictated by the whims of irrational, nonverbal infants, or toddlers/children who do not seem to understand "NO!" Too many parents give children EXCESSIVE choice and agency - when some things just need to be done NOW, and "because I said so" is perfectly adequate. Sure, junior needs their rest, but the world should not be held hostage to an inflexible nap schedule. The amount of expensive gear young parents haul with them astounds me. And then, when they take their little darlings out in public, they seem to believe that the little darlings ought to be able to "experience" things and "express themselves" in a manner that detracts from others' experience.

I see a lot of young parents - including my own kid - making parenting seem like a hell of a lot more work than it needs to be. Of course, there is the possibility that my wife and I were shitty parents, and that my 3 adult kids all found their careers, independence, and life partners despite our inadequate efforts.

I never said raising a kid was EASY. Hell, anyone who decides to have a kid w/ the idea that it will make their life easier and less stressful is a fucking idiot. Sure, it is more work to do your grocery shopping w/ a kid (or 3) than alone, but you have to buy groceries anyway, so it isn't entirely additional effort. We spent TONS of time at libraries and parks - which I found tremendously enjoyable for my own sake, in addition to the enrichment and modeling it provided my kids. Reading and singing, yeah, you probably have to give up some share of your personal reading - at least until the kid goes to sleep, and then you are tired as well. I didn't golf for probably 6-7 years. So what? We RARELY went out to eat, not only because we couldn't afford it, but also because we didn't feel it fair to inflict our kids' potential moods on other diners. Sure, reading whatever kids' book 1000 times is mind-numbingly boring. But sitting and reading to a kid is "grueling"?

The "endless games of chase" points to something I feel strongly about. At some point in the past generation or 2, there seems to have developed the idea that the parent is their kids' best friend and playmate. I'm not saying you and your kid oughtn't be friends. But your life does not get ENTIRELY put on hold for the stimulation of a toddler. I took the babies x-country skiing w/ me, and as soon as their head could hold a helmet, they were in the bike seat. They exist WITHIN the family. IMO, they do not DICTATE the family. And other than newborns, they are never too young to be taught boundaries, no, public manners, etc. Kids do not get to make EVERY choice and dictate EVERY timetable.

As I recall it, childrearing largely involved bringing the kid along with us as we did whatever needed to be done. So if at home, the kid was in a playpen, bouncy seat, highchair, or on the floor while we cooked, cleaned, whatever. When we ran errands or did chores, the kid was in various car seats, slings, and holders to allow us to do what needed to be done. I remember being astounded at what I could do one-handed while hauling the ever-present kid in the other arm. All the while we talked to the kids.

At the same time, the kids were encouraged to entertain themselves. While in their playpen/crib/highchair, they had stimulating toys, and our ever-present talking.

Yeah, childrearing is boring as hell, and tiring due to being constantly on call. And you ought to agree to put some of your selfish interests on hold for a while - or have an SO or someone else spell you. It can be isolating to be at home w/ an infant, and you can get starved for adult interaction.

But if you AREN'T willing to have one parent stay home w/ the kids, and if you lack the resources to otherwise assist, yeah, it will be tough. I think modern parents present childrearing as "grueling" because they don't want to give up what is needed to make it less so. And because they (erroneously IMO) think that minute differences in what they say, do, or provide are going to have outsized effect on the child's eventual comfort, happiness, and success.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:35 PM
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I thought the OP was just asking about newborns, not about rearing children in general.
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:07 PM
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I think our difference reflects where we may fall WRT trends in parenting. I am not advocating a return to "spare the rod/seen but not heard" days. (Not to mention - pop out a dozen and then corral them in the dining room. You SERIOUSLY offer such an extreme as ANYTHING approaching a meaningful datapoint?)
She didn't say all 12 were corralled in the dining room at the same time - she said the toddlers were confined to the dining room.That would be only three or four maximum at a time. My impression is that in the 50s and 60s, it was common for children to be effectively confined to only certain rooms - maybe not the dining room, ( it's no different if the kids are confined to a playroom or a bedroom, but lots of housing arrangements don't have space for a playroom) and perhaps not with baby gates for school-aged children but also not given the run of the house at all hours of the day. My mother had four kids in 4.5 years, and we spent plenty of time in the baby-gated dining room - the alternative would have been to have us and our toys all through the apartment because the layout didn't make it possible to confine us to one of the bedrooms. I seem to recall you being around my age ( I'm 56) - did you really never experience the living rooms with plastic-covered furniture where children were only allowed occasionally?
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:42 PM
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59 yrs old - 4 sibs <5 years apart. Sure, kids were not allowed to play unsupervised anywhere in the house.

But ANYONE who has 12 kids - over any span - is a freaking outlier. And I'd suggest that the very choice of HAVING that many kids comes close to qualifying as neglect.
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Old 01-26-2020, 02:24 PM
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The sheer volume of gear considered to be "necessary" for raising a baby these days is a bit mind boggling to me. My kids are in their forties and when I had them I was basically dirt poor and a teenager with little in the way of help or resources so the idea that there needs to be a metric fuckton of plastic baby gear is a bit head scratchy.

I breastfed both kids and got really good at feeding at night without waking up--first kid slept through the night really early, like a couple months old, but kid #2 took almost a year to accomplish the feat so he slept on a mattress next to ours so I could just snuggle him to me and feed him until he dropped back asleep. Having a toddler and a baby both in diapers was pretty taxing but that phase was over fairly quickly and they always had each other to play with so they kept each other occupied.

Car seats hadn't been invented yet so when they were very small I'd just carry them around in a sling and all I figured I needed to schlep was a couple clean diapers, extra plastic pants to go over the diapers and a wet wash cloth to clean up their bums and maybe a little bottle of water and some plastic keys to wave in front of their faces if they got fractious. Babies tend to be quieter when you carry them anyway so it wasn't that much of an effort. They learned to sleep wherever they were and ignore noise and bustle and I didn't much hold with all that autonomy that pretty much translates to listening when a kid says "no." They learned how to get around and get themselves ready to go and hold hands and pay attention pretty easily--I just trained 'em like I trained puppies!

It certainly wasn't easy but I think the dearth of resources forced a simplicity that ended up being beneficial to everyone. The biggest hassle was that they're only 15 months apart and that took a big toll on me, physically. Other than that, they tended to be independent, self reliant and good at self soothing and caring for each other--they're still best friends and are tighter than most siblings so I guess they did okay with their "deprived" upbringing.
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Old 01-26-2020, 02:42 PM
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When in human history did people parenting a newborn begin to have the luxury of considering it really hard work?
i don’t understand this question as it’s written.

I assure you women have always considered the work that goes into pushing babies out of their body and then nurturing them for those first months of life as very difficult. I have to assume men have thought the same, because they tended to run away from the job until relatively recently. Why would anyone suppose it was ever not considered hard work?

It doesn’t requires “luxury” to consider this hard work, and as a mother, I find this notion offensive. If anything, it requires a certain amount “luxury” to even pose the question you have.
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Old 01-26-2020, 05:59 PM
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If anything, it requires a certain amount “luxury” to even pose the question you have.
Yeah, I think the OP's question reflects the broader issue of a cultural shift in our perceptions of hard work in general.

Prior to the movements for workers' rights and humane working conditions within, oh, about the past 150 years, it was taken for granted that most non-wealthy people would spend their working lives doing work that was physically grueling. People who could afford to outsource physically grueling work, whether it was childcare or other forms of manual labor, would naturally do so; everybody else was expected to shut up and get on with the job, rather than whining about such a completely ordinary fact of life.

Labor-rights movements for the forty-hour week and so forth changed social perceptions to the point where it was considered acceptable for even the poorest working people to resent and complain about excessively grueling work. Acknowledging the grueling nature of what was traditionally "women's work" is just a somewhat delayed development of that cultural shift.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:45 PM
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Yeah, I think the OP's question reflects the broader issue of a cultural shift in our perceptions of hard work in general.
Many people don’t think of domestic work as real work. The OP reflects this bias.

“When in history did people have the luxury of seeing manual labor as being grueling?”

No one in their right mind would ever think to ask this question, because it’s common sense that digging ditches, laying rails, mining coal, and pulling plows is fucking hard on the mind and body. If it wasn’t hard, the rich would be doing it instead of the poor. And people historically have died and become maimed doing this work.

But birthing and raising children is “natural”, so it gets put in a different category. It’s automatically seen as no big deal, and the complaints of modern day parents are regarded as privileged whining. What is ignored is that the rich rely on the poor to do a lot of the heavy lifting in early childrearing. And also ignored is that women and infants used to die and suffer all the time because of the difficulty of this work. That they don’t to the same extent anymore is because of medical advances and greater awareness of postpartum depression. And more supportive partners. But the work is hard as fuck, just as it always has been.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:52 PM
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It's only being recognized (by men) as hard recently because men have had to actually deal with it.

Actions by men are what defines "grueling" in our culture.

Last edited by Chingon; 01-26-2020 at 06:53 PM.
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