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Boundaries of Touch: Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy

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A history of the shifting and conflicting ideas about when, where, and how we should touch our children Discussing issues of parent-child contact ranging from breastfeeding to sexual abuse, Jean O'Malley Halley traces the evolution of mainstream ideas about touching between adults and children over the course of the twentieth century in the United States.

Debates over when A history of the shifting and conflicting ideas about when, where, and how we should touch our children Discussing issues of parent-child contact ranging from breastfeeding to sexual abuse, Jean O'Malley Halley traces the evolution of mainstream ideas about touching between adults and children over the course of the twentieth century in the United States.


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Debates over when a child should be weaned and whether to allow a child to sleep in the parent's bed reveal deep differences in conceptions of appropriate adult-child contact. Halley discusses the gendering of ideas about touch that were advanced by influential social scientists and parenting experts including Benjamin Spock, Alfred C. Kinsey, and Luther Emmett Holt. She also explores how touch ideology fared within and against the post-World War II feminist movements, especially with respect to issues of breastfeeding and sleeping with a child versus using a crib.

Boundaries of Touch Parenting and Adult Child Intimacy

In addition to contemporary periodicals and self-help books on child rearing, Halley uses information gathered from interviews she conducted with mothers ranging in age from twenty-eight to seventy-three. Throughout, she reveals how the parent-child relationship, far from being a private or benign subject, continues as a highly contested, politicized affair of keen public interest.

Jean Halley

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Sort order. May 06, Jonna Higgins-Freese rated it it was amazing. She also talks about the way each carries different power relationships, but that part wasn't as easy for me to follow or as convincing -- but she did attribute it directly to Foucault, whom I completely fail to understand, so that may be why I had a predisposition to think I wouldn't "get" that part. Some of her more interesting quotes: p. Naturalists believe in, and idealize "nature. People need not and cannot spend limited resources, including emotions and time, on their children.

Rather, children 'spend' themselves on their families. As manufacturing increased, production left the home except for children: "the new domestic product was the intensively raised child. Talking about Spock: "Middle-class women -- good mothers -- were to make their children the center of their lives.

Jean O’Malley Halley - Georgia Press

The ideal Spockean mother was fulfilled by doing all the small and, often, dull tasks of child care. Her satisfaction came 'naturally' from her maternal instinct. She had few interests outside her motherly realm, the home. Quotes Spock: "'The important thing for a mother to realize is that the younger the child the more necessary it is for him to have steady, loving person taking care of him.

In most cases, the mother is the best one to give him this feeling of belonging, safely and surely'. But as Anne Roiphe points out, uncomfortably for feminists, there does seem to be evidence that a consistent caregiver or small set of caregivers is important. She also talks about how some AP folks always talk about touch as something mothers do. This was interesting to me because I've always been annoyed by the "safe co-sleeping" guideline that fathers not be allowed to sleep next to the baby. What I think was interesting about Halley's analysis is that my discomfort with the guideline is that I think it carries some hidden fear of sexual abuse by fathers, and Halley uncovers this.

ISBN 13: 9780252032127

Grand statements that "[Sears and Ferber:] fits into and reinforces a larger mainstream heteronormative culture that shapes the discursive boundaries of thinking about touching children in terms of normative ideas regarding gender, sexuality, class, and race. Nice grand statements, but harder to me to see specific examples in her work that add up to supporting evidence for those grand statements. Points out that none of the three reasons Ferber gives for children sleeping alone is grounded in scientific research : gives info about REM sleep.

That so many people sleep better with someone else does not seem to Ferber to need explaining. He does not explain why untold numbers of people love to sleep with others nearby in bed or where he came up with this 'fact. Bodies must be kept apart from one another so that the rational mind can stay in control. Points out that : "In the end, Sears seems to argue that if you trust your 'instincts,' you will parent in the manner proposed by Sears.

In other words, good parenting is Sears's method of parenting. You can listen to Sears and 'trust your instincts. Either way, the end result is Sears -- Sears the advocate for parental intuition, Sears the pediatric expert. I guess I haven't necessarily felt this, but have been surprised at how few resources there seem to be for fathers or interest by fathers in parenting.