Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

ANCESTORS; the Loving Family in Old Europe

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

ANCESTORS; the Loving Family in Old Europe

Article excerpt

OZMENT, Steven, ANCESTORS; The Loving Family in Old Europe. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001, 162 pp., $29.95 hardcover, $14.95 softcover.

We have long known that reflection of the past is important to viewing and evaluating the present. It is believed that in our effort to understand the contemporary family it is critical to examine the existence of family life from an historical perspective. Ozment argues in his book Ancestors: The-Loving Family in Old Europe, that some of the perspectives that historians have provided in the past may not be accurate in their portrayal of the family. He questions the existing literature about historical family life. In particular he points to previous documents that have lead to a tendency to view women as victims especially after the 15th century. He cites numerous incidences where women were treated equitably and in some cases had more rights than their male counterparts. In addition, he refers to many cases where children, often portrayed throughout history as sufferers of harsh and uncaring treatment within families, were not generally treated badly. He points out that child care practices throughout history that may seem cruel or backward today, were practical and logical in the context of the time. This is especially true in the areas of feeding, clothing, and play, where the developmental characteristics of children were identified and documented even in antiquity. This is in direct contrast to the idea that in some periods of history, children were viewed as small adults. Ozment asserts that the practice of parental advice has remained an important part of parenting throughout history whatever method is used to get the message to sons and daughters. …

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