Abstract

This essay considers the changes in standards for children's fear and for ways of handling it in Dutch parental guidance literature between 1850 and 1950. Stearns and Haggerty's hypothesis about a Western transformation of fear from an avoidable and relatively unimportant emotion to fear as a normal aspect of a child's mental life, inspired by the American case, is put to the test of comparison. First, an outline of Dutch social history is given, focusing on those processes that are supposed to have acted as determinants of the transition: urbanization, secularization, and a smaller family size. Next, the essay discusses fear as subject of the Dutch parental guidance literature. As in the United States since the 1920s fear changed from a relatively unimportant to a major topic in child-rearing literature. It turned into a fully normal and accepted childhood emotion, which deserved parental respect and compassion. However, unlike in the United States, the same social processes cannot have caused this transition, as they did not occur or did not occur nationwide in the Netherlands at the time. The author draws the conclusion that the cultural shock brought about by World War l and its intellectual aftermath has caused the transition.

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 369-391
Launched on MUSE
2000-10-01
Open Access
No
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