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What events influenced the change in how western civilization raises their children?

Major historical events that influenced how Westerners raised their children include the introduction of child labor laws, the Great Depression, and the aftermath of World War II.

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Three events that changed how Westerners raise children include the passing of child labor laws, the Great Depression, and Work War II. These events will be discussed through the lens of American culture, although these events pertain—with variations—to other Western nations as well.

The first event is industrialization and the subsequent Child Labor Keating-Owen Act of 1916, which banned interstate commerce of goods produced by children. The act meant that children were suddenly limited in the number of hours they could worked. Moreover, a minimum age for workers was instituted. The labor unions were growing in power, and the working class was demanding safer and cleaner working conditions, including for the children. Children were regarded as vulnerable and worthy of protection. For many poor families, this meant a drop in wages because their child was no longer able to work and help support the family. Altogether, children became viewed as a protected class, resulting in parents taking better care of their children and allowing them to actually have "childhoods."

The second event is the Great Depression. Because of the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing depression, there was a sharp decline in birth rates. However, it became important for many families that their children could find work and help the family stay afloat. For some families, this necessity drove them closer together as they learned to rely on one another. On the other side, many men lost work and often lost their homes as well. Many men began to drink, look for work in other cities, and become emotionally distant from their families. Because divorce was too expensive, men frequently abandoned their families, causing the breakup of family units and leaving hundreds of thousands of children without homes, families, or reliable nourishment. Many children were placed in institutions such as orphanages. Altogether, this raised a generation that was self-reliant, frugal-minded, and in some cases emotionally wounded.

The third event is the aftermath of World War II. After the war, soldiers returned to their partners and spouses, starting the Baby Boom generation. Moreover, the G.I. Bill allowed many veterans to build houses or attend college. Homemakers were better able to take care of children, a change from prior generations, in which most child-rearing had been the responsibility of nannies or nurses. In fact, it wasn't until the 1950s that "parenting" was even coined a term. This signified a shift towards the concept of parenting being an active job that could influence the outcome of children's lives. This coincided with the release of Dr. Benjamin Spock's book Baby and Child Care, an incredibly popular volume which included prescribed rules and advice for childcare. In this time of wealth and prosperity for the middle class, parenting changed in the Western world, with parents taking a more proactive and participatory role in the raising of their children.

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