A s I write my editor’s note this month, I must tell you, I’ve been fretting about this 25th anniversary issue. There are so many details, so many talents from so many people that must be carefully woven together to create this beautiful, complicated whole. It can be a bit daunting at times. I remember feeling the same way when preparing for my son’s birthday. I worried I wouldn’t live up to his expectations, that that my plans would somehow fall short of his dreams. Well, the same goes for my work with the magazine. I don’t want to fall short for you, our reader.
But here we are, kicking off the 25th anniversary with a brand new look and logo. Did you notice? It’s brought to you by our new art director, Bryan Rollins, who is brimming with creative ideas on ways to enliven these pages. I hope you’ll find it as engaging as I do.
Since we’re celebrating this milestone, I’ve been thinking about what has changed and what has remained the same when it comes to raising kids. I was doing some reading to learn about parenting thought, to discover how our views have shifted, and I came across some interesting information.
It was at the turn of the 20th century when the old adage, “Children should be seen and not heard” first arose. Scientific research suggested rigid feeding, bathing, and sleeping schedules for babies. To keep them from “undue stimulation,” it was recommended that they shouldn’t even be played with before six months of age.
By the late 1920s, experts suggested children be strictly controlled and that parents expect instant obedience and demand chores. Furthermore, so as to not spoil your child, mothers were told to withhold their affection. Eek.
Post-World War II, Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care became the go-to bible for parents of the Baby Boom generation, selling 50 million copies worldwide by 1980. Spock’s message was far more affirming than in decades past, telling mothers to “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” He also encouraged parents to be more flexible and affectionate with their children, at last.
Pediatrician T. Barry Brazelton followed somewhat in Spock’s footsteps, doing work to help parents and pediatricians better understand how the behavior of young children was effected by parents and vice versa.
Today’s flurry of books and blogs seem to prey on the fears and anxieties new parents harbor, playing up their lack of knowledge or competence around child-rearing. Admittedly, the worries and challenges we face as a society today — technology, gun violence, terrorism — are different than they were 25 years ago.
However, much of what it means to actually raise a child day-to-day remains the same. What children need is fairly simple: love, guidance, limits. As a parent, you will gradually become the expert on your child. Consider what is it you want for him and how can you help him achieve his goals. What are the lessons you want to instill in him, what values are important to you? Let those questions guide you.
I believe the journey our children take us on does require some personal reflection. I remember my own son asking me my reasoning behind a decision and having to stop and really think about why I was coming down with the edict of the moment.
Yet, I think if you are mindful, raising a child can be an act of empowerment and can help make you a stronger, more confident person. Being a parent requires you to think beyond your own needs, to consider the strengths and limitations of another, to communicate your thoughts and feelings effectively so that your child can gradually become equipped to manage the world independently of you.
As a parenting magazine, our aim is to help you with this most important job. Raising a child can be many things — busy, frustrating, joyous, maddening — but ultimately, we hope we can help you embrace the joy.
We’ve been around for 25 years, and with the help of our advertisers and you, we’ll be here for many more to come. Thanks for being part of the journey.