Emotional Life

Scholars debate how much children's actual emotions have changed in the last five hundred years of Western history, yet all agree that the nature and extent of cultural interest in the emotional lives of children has shifted dramatically. From the sixteenth century to the twenty-first, from theologians to moralists, to novelists, to psychologists, to sociologists and anthropologists, adults interested in defining and regulating emotion have often trained their eyes and ears on the lips and tongues of children. Whether children's souls were viewed as stained with sinful passions waiting to be cleansed, their hearts regarded as empty vessels ready to be filled with finer feelings, or their psyches seen as the seat of complex emotions ripe for discovery and discussion, over time the emotional life of children has been the focus of ever-increasing levels of adult attention. Historians charting such changes have been able to make few authoritative pronouncements about the lived inner experiences of children's emotions for most of this period. There simply are no records to consult that can reliably reveal the subjective texture of children's emotional lives in past times. On the other hand, historians have employed an incredibly creative array of methods and sources to try to make sense of the outward tracks and traces of children's emotion that have been left behind.

Emotional History in Context: Scholarly Debates about Historical Change The first contemporary historians of emotions found fewer differences between the emotional lives of early modern adults and their children than between early modern and modern adult emotional attitudes. In the mid-twentieth century, many historians of early modern Europe argued that, regardless of age, the people of past times were universally childlike in their emotions, at least compared to contemporary standards. They cast early modern people as given to frequent, unpredictable, and extravagant outbursts of emotion, especially of rage, grief, jealousy, lust, and avarice. In this model, LOVE was portrayed as a rare feeling which, when it existed at all, passed mutely between male fellows, or flamed briefly in romantic entanglements outside the realm of marriage.

There was, according to this argument, little love within the family, either between husbands and wives or between parents and children. The family was simply a cooperative economic unit in which children were regarded as little adults in training, to be set loose in the world the moment they were able to earn their livelihood. This situation supposedly held until the rise of the modern era, an era begun by Protestant reforms, shaped by the rise of market capitalism, and marked by the growth of individualism. Released from its earlier economic frame, the family was free to develop more elaborate moral and affective functions. The emergence of what some scholars have called "affective individualism" led to an increasing emphasis on loving relations within the family. In the early 1970s, many historians of colonial America applied this paradigm to their subjects and argued that, as late as the seventeenth century, emotional ties were at most a limited feature of family life.

Subsequent work has tempered these extreme views, however; many historians have since unearthed evidence of the importance of emotional bonds within early modern families, especially between parents and children. Most historians now reject extremist characterizations of early modern

Child Bitten by a Crayfish (c. 1558), Sofonisba Anguissola. This sixteenth-century drawing is a tender image of an upsetting event in a young boy's life. © .

people as childlike in their rages and stunted in their love. Considerable evidence, from religious writings to court cases, indicates that early modern people were extremely troubled by the dangers they perceived to be inherent in violent emotion; moreover, poetry, letters, and diaries from this period contain ample evidence of strong family feelings.

Yet, even as recent historians have largely come to agree that loving relations between parents and children were likely quite prevalent throughout the early modern period, they have also come to a renewed appreciation of the fact that–whatever the continuities of the currents of subjective emotional experience–there have been marked changes in the kinds of ideals espoused and the extent of emotions expressed by and about children in past times. In fact, current scholarship recognizes that while historians in the mid-twentieth century may have overstated claims that early modern emotion was fundamentally and experientially different from modern emotion, they were quite right to remark that attitudes and ideas about children and the ideal role of emotion in family life have undergone significant changes from the early modern to the modern period.

Just as claims of radical disjuncture in the emotional lives of early modern and modern children now seem unlikely and exaggerated, models of undifferentiated continuity appear overly simplistic, not to mention ahistorical. Postmodern critical perspectives have brought home an awareness that experience itself is shaped at least in part by cultural ideas. The range of emotions identified and expressed by children inevitably would have been molded to a great extent by the prevailing culture's understanding of emotion. Thus, historians have recently become aware of the importance of making cross-cultural as well as chronological comparisons. Attention to the changing cast of observers who took upon themselves the responsibility of cataloging and critiquing children's emotions is an important starting point for sorting out the changing nature of interest in children's emotional life.

Children's Emotions in Early Modern Europe and Seventeenth-Century British America In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, during the years following the Protestant Reformation, theologians and litigants left the most extensive records concerning attitudes towards children's emotions. In much of northern Europe (especially in England and Germany where a good deal of research has been focused) as well as in colonial English America, Calvinistic attitudes towards sin and salvation dominated concerns about children's emotions. Emotions in this period were most often referred to as passions, and they were regarded with suspicion as a primary manifestation of the sinful and selfish will.

A central belief of Calvinist Christianity was that each believer should submit his or her will to God's will, in order to experience his saving grace. Therefore, ministers preached that passions ought to be eliminated as much as possible, with every effort made to discipline the will. For parents and children, this meant that one of the primary obligations of family life was to teach children to conquer their passions. From infancy, parents began to discipline their children's emotions, meeting cries and tears with the switch and schooling their children to contain their emotions at all costs.

Some parents may have relished their religious duty to break their children's wills; others, however, may have found this process painful to inflict. Scholars have speculated that the common process of "putting children out," that is, sending them to live and work as servants or apprentices in the homes of neighboring families, resulted from parents' concerns that their natural affection for their own offspring would inhibit their ability to impose proper emotional discipline. In this view, excessive parental love could potentially imperil children's immortal souls.

One unintended consequence of this extreme cultural emphasis on the importance of emotional containment was that rebellious outbursts of emotion were extremely common. Early modern court records are rife not only with instances where anger overflowed into violence, but also with examples of cases where verbal violence alone was enough to send people to seek public redress against anger. Most plaintiffs in court cases were adult men suing for compensation on behalf of themselves or their female dependents. Occasionally, however, some fathers brought suit against their children for angry and disrespectful behavior. On the one hand, the prevalence of court cases involving outbursts of anger supports the notion that early modern people, parents and children alike, were, by modern standards, especially passionate. On the other hand, the fact that these emotional outbursts were litigated in a court of law, rather than simply negotiated as a private matter, indicates how seriously early modern Europeans and European Americans took religious injunctions against the passions.

Immoderate emotions were not only an instrument of spiritual sin, they also could cause physical sickness. In this period, the germ theory of disease was as yet undeveloped. Instead, early modern medical theory posited that bodily health depended on the proper balance of the four humors, or bodily fluids, including blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. If any of the four humors accumulated to excess, the body would become too hot, too cold, too dry, or too moist, and thus subject to disease. To be "out of humor" was not simply to be in a bad mood, but actually to be in bad health. When parents urged their children to master their wills and subject their passions, they did so out of fear for both their spiritual and physical well-being.

Indeed, death and disease were ever-present in the early modern world. At a time when many children would not live to see adulthood, and when those that did might well lose a parent along the way, it is possible that family affection had less room to flower than it would have in later periods. This fact has led some scholars to argue against the development of a great degree of familial love between early modern parents and children. Scholars favoring this view have noted the common practice of reusing the name of a deceased child at the births of subsequent children and have argued that this implied a lack of strong feeling for the lost child. Other scholars have viewed the same evidence from the opposite angle and made the point that a desire to preserve and pass on traditional family names, even in the face of grave loss, actually indicates the great importance of familial bonds.

Another important piece of indirect evidence indicates that, for all of Calvinism's emphasis on the discipline of the will, loving relations were still the family ideal. Ministers frequently described themselves in their sermons as nursing fathers and mothers, and a common metaphor for conversion (for men and women alike) was to take Christ as one's bridegroom. The church's reliance on loving and nurturing family metaphors to describe emotional connections between God and his believers or between preachers and their flocks indicates that early modern children probably did experience important degrees of familial love. That said, the emotional discipline and material challenges such children would have been subjected to daily, accompanied by frequent family separations due to death or servitude, would have made the cultural influences on their emotional lives distinct from those of later periods.

A final point remains to be made regarding the use of familial metaphors in this period. Church authorities and government officials across Europe drew on comparisons of parents (most often fathers) and children to describe relations of power and authority between rulers and their subjects. While noting the use of familial metaphors by ministers highlights the importance of familial love as a cultural ideal, it also reinforces the point that love and authority were explicitly intertwined in the lives of early modern children in ways which would be unfamiliar today.

Children's Emotions during the Enlightenment Era

In the eighteenth century, the number and variety of commentators interested in assessing and advising on emotion increased exponentially. From political theorists to moral philosophers, from theologians to novelists, writers and thinkers of the ENLIGHTENMENT became newly intent on explicating the importance of emotions. Where early modern writers had linked passions to sin and humors to bodily sickness, Enlightenment writers began to focus on feelings as a key to salvation and on sentiments as a source of social virtue. Unregulated by reason, passions could still be dangerous and undesirable. In such cases, physicians now believed they could be a potent source of debilitating nervous disorders. But, properly governed, emotion came to be viewed as a source of good. Children had to be taught a new, more balanced approach to emotions which continued to emphasize self-control and domination of the will, but which now also included a positive role for some kinds of feeling.

Historians who have focused their attention on religious writings have provided the most evidence of emotion's increasingly positive cultural valence. The 1700s saw the rise of pietistic religions in Germany, the growth of Methodism in England, and the emergence of evangelical awakenings in British America, all of which placed a new emphasis on the importance of emotion in the process of religious conversion. The path to salvation lay in the emotional conviction of sin, followed by the experience of the saving grace of God's love. Unlike biblically based Calvinism, which had stressed the need to be literate to know God's Word, these new religions placed feelings at the center of faith. The result was that even unlettered children could choose to give themselves to God. In fact, many contemporary depictions of religious revivals, including the widely read work of the colonial Massachusetts minister Jonathan Edwards, described the pious emotions of child converts in considerable detail. Children had once been taught that their own passions were the source of sin; now they were learning a new lesson–that the cultivation of religious affections could bring them closer to God.

Another important line of scholarly inquiry into the improving cultural status of emotion comes from research in intellectual history. One important philosophical strain of the Enlightenment, Scottish moral philosophy, developed around the idea that emotions were the seat of social virtue. The capacity to imaginatively identify with the emotions of others provided the inner guide that made possible moral human actions. Neither theologians nor philosophers recommended emotion as a means to self-knowledge or self-promotion. On the contrary, the ideal of submission of the self to the will of God, as well as to the greater social good, continued to be of fundamental importance. Children remained bound by requirements for emotional discipline. But the desire to eradicate the passions had begun to be replaced by a desire to channel them for virtuous ends.

Not all historians who have considered society's changing attitudes towards emotion would chart the time line in quite this way. Some have contended that the eighteenth century inaugurated a newly antagonistic attitude towards emotion. The best evidence for this stance comes from the growth of a particular kind of literary genre: the etiquette manual. Writers of advice books began to focus their observations on children more forcefully in the eighteenth century than they had previously. Where once admonitions concerning proper conduct had been directed at adults (who were expected to enforce observance of these standards by their children and other subordinates), instruction in MANNERS began to be aimed directly at children themselves. This new emphasis on self-regulation has led some historians to write as if emotion itself took on a new negative valence in this period.

The chief argument of these historians–that conduct books exhibited a new concern with providing instruction in the modulation of emotion–is key and remains valid. It is probably more accurate, however, to argue that the advice about the regulation of emotion became increasingly elaborate because emotion was now seen to have positive potential in certain controlled circumstances. In fact, of course, invariable antagonism to emotion was far easier to enforce and to understand than the more complicated position that some kinds of emotion could serve useful religious and social ends, while others remained dangerous and undesirable. Conduct books thus began to address themselves to the task of sorting out such nuances.

Another key insight from conduct literature is that changing ideas about emotional regulation led parents and their children to redefine their relationships with one another. Once parents had held primary responsibility for disciplining the unruly passions of their children; now, however, parents began to expect young people to learn to regulate themselves. This shift released parents from their punitive positions as enforcers and allowed new ideals of family affection to flourish. Research indicates that advice writers began to instruct parents to express love for their children rather than to physically correct their children's unruly displays of emotion. Under this new system, parents were expected to teach their children by example to control outbursts of undesirable emotions, such as anger. Similarly positive messages concerning emotions spilled from the pens of poets, playwrights, and novelists. The novel as a literary form was essentially invented in the eighteenth century, and its hallmark was the exploration of characters' inner emotions.

Of course, it is important to remember that evidence gleaned from prescriptive commentators–whether theologians or philosophers, writers of advice manuals or of novels–reveals ideals rather than practice. What some scholars have come to call emotionology–that is, the dominant constellation of cultural ideas about emotion–is not the same as emotion. The actual extent of loving feelings within families may not have changed markedly between 1500 and 1800; however, the importance attached to the idea of family feeling did.

As parents embraced these new ideas wholeheartedly, so did their children. By the mid-eighteenth century, many middling and elite young people began to keep commonplace books. They copied rules of conduct advice gleaned from etiquette manuals into these scrapbooks, along with various poems and literary snippets. Just as conduct literature was increasingly aimed at young people, so too were novels. Authors frequently wrote in epistolary style (a series of letters) and dealt with issues of courtship and seduction, of successful marriages and of suits gone awry. Meanwhile, ordinary eighteenth-century young people filled their own letters and diaries with a new, more emotional style of address. Many historians trace the beginnings of a distinctive youth culture to this period.

Some scholars argue that emotion began to be feminized in the late eighteenth century as well, but this is a point that has come under considerable dispute. It seems most likely that young men and women alike read and enjoyed novels, followed conduct advice, and shared concern for their souls and their societies in more or less equal measure. Indeed, as emotion became tied to civic virtue, and as the public sphere became masculinized, boys and young men maintained an especially marked interest in emotion. The one exception here probably had to do with anger, which may well have been more permissible in boys (in certain circumstances which required displays of masculine mastery), than in girls (where it continued to be regarded as necessarily sinful).

Because expressions of emotion came to be seen as desirable in certain circumstances, they gradually found their way into ideas about gentility and civility. The complex code of permissible versus reprehensible emotions was one ideally suited to the subtle signaling of social distinctions. Over the course of the eighteenth century, as people and goods circulated with increasing frequency, making social mobility possible, emotional agility emerged as an important badge of gentility, on par with dancing or other forms of polite behavior. Children and parents alike responded to these trends with a greater emphasis on emotion.

What of social and cultural diversity in eighteenth-century attitudes toward emotion? Surely not everyone espoused or experienced the version of emotion just described. Because the writing of political history usually precedes social and cultural history, and because Western European history has long predominated over that of other areas, it is clear that much remains to be discovered about the contours of the emotional lives of children outside those of the white elite. Still, certain arguments have emerged.

Some evidence exists to suggest that members of the lower orders (soon to become recognized as a distinct economic class) did not embrace the new ethos of emotional cultivation and control, but rather followed their own less-constrained inclinations. This appears particularly likely to have been the case with men and boys, who gave rein to everyday anger and participated in boisterous recreational fighting, such as wrestling. In any case, the same debates about gentility, assimilation, and imitation that accompany all studies of eighteenth-century manners and culture also apply to questions about class differences in the emotional lives of European and European-American children.

By contrast, the emotional lives of NATIVE AMERICAN CHILDREN and of AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHILDREN, whether free or enslaved, would have been markedly different from the European patterns just described. Differences in religious beliefs and forms of political and social organization would have led these groups towards a distinct set of emotional expectations and experiences. At the same time, exigencies imposed by interactions with Europeans would have further distinguished the emotional lives of these children in crucial ways.

According to colonial observers, surviving oral accounts, and contemporary scholarship, affection far outranked discipline as a concern of Native American parents. Native American children in North America (from the Northeastern woodlands to the desert Southwest) would most likely have been raised in matrilineal households where cooperative work habits would have ensured young children great amounts of time with their mothers and female kin. Later on, boys would have received greater attention and training from fathers and uncles. While both girls and boys would have had to undergo ritual trials before becoming recognized as adults–trials that would have tested their emotional as well as physical endurance–Native American children would not have had to submit to daily parental efforts to punish their passions. Love not only flowed freely between parents and children, but also between men and women. All but the most elite marriages were by mutual consent and divorce was easy and voluntary.

Still, this openness does not mean that Native American children faced no strictures concerning emotion. On the contrary, stoicism in the face of suffering was a highly valued trait amongst Native Americans, while mourning in response to death was culturally patterned and especially important among the northeastern Iroquois nations. So great was their grief when a family member died, that in many cases mourners would attempt to replace lost family members by adopting a captive from another tribe or, following the contact period, from a European settlement. It is a testament to the relatively pleasant emotional lives of Native American children that many European-American children so adopted were reluctant to return to the homes of their birth, even when offered the opportunity. The reverse was not true, however; Native American children forced into servitude in the households of colonial Europeans usually languished there unhappily. Furthermore, the arrival of European weapons and especially of European diseases dramatically increased deaths and family disruptions in the lives of Native American children, perhaps making the experience of grief a more dominant companion than love.

African-American children would also have grown up amidst great emotional and familial challenges. In the seventeenth century, when slavery was just being established as a labor system in British America, various factors combined to limit the numbers of African-American children. Plantation owners preferred male bondservants to female, and living conditions were severe enough to ensure high rates of INFANT MORTALITY. Perhaps because of this, very little research has been done on African-American children in this era. By the eighteenth century, however, as male-female ratios became more even and basic living conditions improved somewhat, the numbers of African-American children increased. In fact, recent research indicates that in the eighteenth century as many as a third of forced African migrants enslaved in North America may have been children at the time of their departure from Africa.

Children living under slavery faced an unprecedented degree of family disruption, whether snatched from Africa or born in North America. Not only were family bonds torn asunder by death and disease, but they were also liable to be severed at the whim of slave masters who were more sensitive to their own fluctuating labor needs than to their slaves' enduring human desires for family. Still, considerable indirect evidence, such as family naming patterns and the transmission of specialized job skills from parents to children, testifies to the strong bonds of love that tied enslaved families together. Meanwhile, rich traditions of spirituality, song, and storytelling, passed down from one generation to the next, show the resilience and dignity with which children living under slavery were taught to confront daily injuries and injustice.

Like Native American children, most African-American children lived with their mothers in matrilineal family groups. Less clear is whether this arrangement was simply created at the convenience of masters, or whether it reflected African traditions and preferences. On the one hand, it appears that free black families often chose to live in nuclear, father-headed households. Some historians believe that this indicates that the mother-centered households typically found in slave quarters reflect the difficulty of sustaining family life under bondage. On the other hand, the prevailing view among historians is that matrilineality was a revered African tradition. In fact, many scholars argue that, even in free black families that appear to have followed a European model, greater equality in work roles meant that loving partnerships departed from the more authoritarian patriarchal model of European families. In either case, some of the challenges of family life under slavery would have been mitigated by the development of far-flung kin networks. Extended family and fictive kin provided parents and children alike with an important measure of emotional as well as practical support.

Children's Emotions in the Emerging United States

From the creation of the United States to the present day, Americans have placed an ever-increasing emphasis on the importance of children and their emotions. Just as emotions themselves have undergone a shift, from an exclusive association with sin to a potential alliance with salvation, so views of children have changed. Once seen as naturally depraved and in need of emotional discipline, children came to be seen as naturally innocent, innately sensitive, and in need of tender care. In the history of the United States, the turn towards a decidedly positive view of children's emotions came after the American Revolution.

The American Revolution heralded an era dominated by a republican political philosophy accompanied by a new political and cultural interest in the family. Much as the new nation stirred optimistic visions of expanding democracy and economic progress, it also provoked anxious images of moral decline and decay. One way to banish shadows and burnish republican dreams was to turn to the family as a haven from the vices of the marketplace and the dangers of political divisiveness. In such a context, the emotional sensitivity of children came to be construed as an important aspect of republican virtue, something to be nourished and encouraged by republican wives and mothers from the safety of hearth and home. Aiding and augmenting this trend among Protestants was the arrival of the Second Great Awakening in the 1830s, which once again placed a premium on the importance of emotion for salvation and which introduced a new optimism about the perfectibility of the self.

By the early nineteenth century, the cult of sensibility reached full flower. Taking off from the premise of eighteenth-century moral philosophers that emotion was the basis of virtue, citizens of the new nation sought to cultivate their capacities for finer feeling, their ability to appreciate pathos in art and literature. Initially, this emotional quality was expected of all good republicans and seems to have been more a mark of virtue than a trope of gender. As time went on, however, and economic and political developments led to a widening conceptual gap between public and private life, the home came to be regarded as the feminine sphere. With this shift came an increasing feminization of emotion. At the turn of the nineteenth century, both little boys and little girls would have aspired to emotional sensibility. But, increasingly, girls learned to cry tears, while boys were taught to pat them dry. Such was the work of boys in training to be citizens and the girls who would grow up to be their republican wives.

For the children of those excluded from both actual citizenship and symbolic roles as republicans–namely, white men who did not own property and their working wives, Native Americans, and African Americans–emotional life appeared very different. Poor white children living in rural areas may have continued to experience emotional conditions akin to those of the eighteenth century. But for the poor living in cities, among them many immigrant Catholics, the long working hours of their parents and the squalid conditions of daily existence made for a very different set of emotional experiences. Court records and popular accounts make clear that verbal and physical violence were frequent features of daily life. Courage and a ready fist in defense of honor came to be seen as signal traits of the working-class man, whether immigrant or native, as well as among upper-class Southerners. Boys schooled their own emotions according to this ideal. Girls, meanwhile, learned from their mothers' examples the importance of sympathy as an emotional tool for survival. Often, female solidarity was the only thing that produced a fresh pail of water in times of sickness, or an extra bite of bread when a husband's wages went to drink.

As propertied white men came to define themselves as citizens of the new nation, they held fast to the idea that other Americans were their dependents. The parents of African-American and Native American children were not only excluded from the formal rights of citizenship, but actually denied recognition as adult members of society. Southern slave masters likened enslaved adults to children and referred to "my family black and white." President Andrew Jackson, architect of Indian removal, referred to Native Americans as "my red children." When these white male leaders spoke of their paternal affection for their "children," the centuriesold link between family feeling and public power continued to evolve.

African-American and Native American children faced particular emotional challenges growing up in a society increasingly intolerant of family forms that deviated from the republican norm, yet hostile to any attempt by non-elites to lay claim to the possibilities of republicanism. From Cherokee children forced west on the Trail of Tears, to African-American children sold south in the service of King Cotton, many children never experienced the cozy security of the republican fireside. Their feelings of loss, of grief at separation from their mother, or shame at watching their father whipped, of rage against oppression never more than partially subdued, could not be fully assuaged even by ample amounts of love and affection shared among their friends and kin.

Surveying the distinctive contours of emotional life among elite white men, as opposed to white women and people of color, some scholars have argued that only American men were encouraged to embrace the individualism that supposedly characterized the nation as a whole by the turn of the twentieth century. Emotional distinctions loomed large in the socialization of middle-class children. Boys were urged to restrain certain emotions, such as fear. Not only parents and teachers, but also boys' own play patterns, emphasized the importance of this kind of emotional control. Boys who were too emotional were regarded as sissies. For girls, control of fear was seen as largely irrelevant; shyness and timidity were the desirable feminine traits. But control over anger was urged along with a positive emphasis on the importance of loving qualities. Children's toys, including dolls for girls, encouraged the same complex, gender-specific emotional release and control.

The Emotional Lives of Children in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries This split in emotional life finally began to change over the course of the twentieth century. By then, ever-increasing racial, ethnic, and religious pluralism (the result of large-scale immigration that included, among others, Jews and other Eastern Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and members of other groups only minimally represented in the United States at the time of the Revolution) made many old strictures untenable. Schooling, commercial popular culture, and psychological advice began to affect the large variety of groups now present in the society.

In the early modern period, Europeans believed the self and its passions posed so many dangers as to require total submersion. By contrast, in mid-to late-twentieth-century America, children learned of the importance of accessing and expressing their emotions in service of self-development or what came to be called self-actualization. YOUTH CULTURE, assumed to be more spontaneous, more sincere, and more open in its approach to emotion, gained a kind of social currency unimaginable in 1600. Black power movements in the 1960s allowed African Americans of all ages to express rage at last. In the postfeminist age, many Americans still assume that women are the more emotional sex; yet they often view this discrepancy as a masculine failing rather than a feminine sin. Children and their parents are both routinely encouraged to get in touch with their feelings. Emotional wellbeing has come to be sought for its own sake, not in service of bodily purity or in fear of spiritual sin.

While encouraging American children to identify their emotions was the most obvious change from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, it was not the only one. Concern about exposing children to unduly intense emotions was another key development; it promoted new efforts at control despite the apparent trend toward greater openness. Spurred by psychological advice, parents were urged to become more concerned about fear and anger in children, while a campaign against sibling jealousy brought new attention to this emotion as well. Twentieth-century advice manuals encouraged children to talk about these negative emotions, but discouraged them from acting on their feelings. Other ploys, including the use of toys to distract children from feelings of envy or fear, accomplished the same objective. It was widely believed that parents had a responsibility to prevent many emotions from festering in their children in order to prepare them for successful adulthood. While gender differences persisted, commitment to radically different patterns of emotional socialization for boys and girls declined; instead, all children were taught to moderate their emotional intensity. Keeping children away from experiences of deep grief was another aspect of this new approach. Finally, awareness of children's emotional vulnerability focused attention on other issues such as promoting self-esteem.

Furthermore, the emotional lives of children continue to change, as do attitudes towards children and emotion itself. For example, scientists have recently begun rediscovering the "mind-body" connection, that is, the links between emotional and physical health. Ironically, the freer and more developed the self has become, the more that emotional self-control has come to be valued. Where parents once monitored and corrected the passions of their children, and courts controlled the unruly emotions of adults as needed, modern Americans expect emotional control to be a wholly individual matter. Meanwhile, many postmodern theorists have begun to argue that the very idea of an autonomous self is itself a Western illusion, a relic of the Enlightenment, and by no means the only, or even the best, way of considering emotions, identity, and social relations. In short, the history of children's emotional lives is still being written and still being lived.

See also: Anger and Aggression; Child Psychology; Child-Rearing Advice Literature; Fear; Friendship; Gendering; Guilt and Shame; Grief, Death, Funerals; Jealousy and Envy; Shyness.


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