Dr. Benjamin Spock was one of the most influential physicians of the 20th Century, not only in how babies were cared for, but later, in his prominent opposition to the US’ war in Viet Nam.
Here’s one of today’s entries in The Writers’ Almanac, the wonderful daily newsletter sent out by Garrison Keillor on NPR. Parents of boomers like me were big fans of Dr. Spock, treating him with an almost cult-like reverence for his sensible wisdom about child care. He later parted ways with some of his more conservative followers, when he became an iconic protester against America’s war in Viet Nam.
Be sure to note the last line of the blurb below. This is the same message Jane Sarasohn-Kahn related recently in The Wisdom of Patients. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
It’s the birthday of Dr. Benjamin Spock, (books by this author) born in New Haven, Connecticut (1903). His Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946) was a best seller during the period after World War II, when parents across America were raising the Baby Boom generation. Spock opened his first pediatric practice in 1933. After 10 years of observing children and their health, Spock decided to write a book about taking care of them. Instead of writing it out himself, he dictated the book to his wife, to give it a conversational tone. Previous parenting guidebooks had encouraged parents to be stern with their children, and they were written as a list of commands. Dr. John B. Watson had written in his guidebook, “Never, never kiss your child. Never hold it in your lap. Never rock its carriage.” Dr. Spock encouraged parents to be affectionate, and he also encouraged them to follow their own instincts. The first sentence of his book was, “You know more than you think you do.”