Re: memetics-digest V1 #17

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:37:19 -0700 (PDT)

Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:37:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Eva-Lise Carlstrom <>
Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #17
In-Reply-To: <>

Ton Maas wrote:

> Once again a wonderfully insightful contribution! Made me think of the
> too-often unnoticed "safety valves" in (un)conscious communicative
> processes. Take as an example the "neurotic" attitude to child rearing many
> contemporary parents show: "Please tell me what's the good thing to do with
> my baby because I'm afraid of screwing up big-time and cause irreparable
> damage". There is a curious correllation between this neurosis and the
> proliferation of childcare books, each with its own preference, emphasis or
> worse. From an anthropological viewpoint it is quite easy to see how this
> whole "problem" has been inflated over time, causing subsequent generations
> of parents to be increasingly insecure about their parenting habits, while
> at the same time it is an anthropologically observable fact that children
> _do_ manage to survive various styles of care and rearing. Apparently the
> self-corrective mechanisms involved are much more reliable than we tend to
> give them credit for.

I recently read an excellent book called _Perfect Parents_ (originally
published as _Dream Babies_). It surveys the history of childcare manuals
since their origins in the 18th century. Fascinating stuff, and
interesting to see how much of their changing advice is based on shifting
expectations, social fashions, and effects of technology, rather than on
improved understanding of infant needs. Pertinent reading for students of
memetics, certainly.

Eva-Lise Carlstrom

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