Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bringing Up Baby

This Day In Boomer History
May 2, 1903

Let's get things straight right from the start: "Benjamin" was not Mr. Spock's first name. I made that mistake numerous times growing up, and I think it's an understandable one. But Dr. Spock does not equal Mr. Spock, so Trekkies, move on.

So who was Benjamin Spock? Just the author of the second biggest selling book of all time. (And he's coming in number two only to The Bible, so that competition is pretty stiff.) Dr. Spock was the author of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, the tome that guided our parents during our crucial formative years. The book, which sold for a quarter when first released, landed on the bookstore shelves in 1946. Does that year ring any bells? Yep, this handy dandy guide was published just when the first of the Baby Boom generation was being born. Talk about a case of being in the right place at the right time!

Spock reinvented the art of child rearing by telling parents they were the true experts in raising their children. Our parents were encouraged to trust themselves and enjoy their children. The "old rules" - such as "spare the rod, spoil the child" - were set aside for a bit of cuddling and even some coddling. (And they wonder why we were so confused!)

The book, an instant classic, was revised and updated numerous times throughout Spock's lifetime. It sold more than 50 million copies (including at least one to my parents - I remember the pink paperback edition on our bookshelf at home). Dr. Spock died in 1998, but parents can find his advice on his web site.

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