Childhood has become such a distinct period that it is hard to imagine it was not always thought of in that way. However, in medieval times, laws generally did not distinguish between childhood offenses and adult offenses. After analyzing sample of art, along with available publications, historian Philippe Aries (1962) concluded that European societies did not accord any special status to children prior to 1600. In the painting he studied, children were often dressed in small version of adult cloning.
In medieval times, many children often worked, and their emotional bond with parents might not have been as strong as it is for many children today. However, in medieval times, childhood was recognized as a distinct phase of life more then Aries believed.
Throughout History, philosophers have speculated about how to rear children so that they develop the desired societies. Three such philosophical views are based on the notion of ‘original sin’, ‘tabula rasa’ and ‘innate goodness’. In the “original sins” view, especially advocated during the middle ages, children were perceived as being basically bad, born into the world as evil beings. Hence they had to be treated harshly and made to obey. The goal of child rearing was salvation, which was believed to remove sins from child’s life. Towards, the end of seventeenth century, the ‘tabula rasa’ view was proposed by English philosopher John Locke (1975). He argued that children are not innately bad. Instead they are like a “blanket tablet”. They acquire their characteristics through experience. Locke believed that childhood experiences are important in determining the adult characteristics. He advised parents to spend time with their children and help them become contributing members to the society. In the eighteenth century, the ‘innate goodness’ view was presented by Swiss born French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He stressed that children are inherently good. Rousseau said that because children are basically good, they should be permitted to grow naturally with little parental monitoring or constraint (Santrock 2001).
During the past century and a half, interest in the nature of children and ways to improve their well being have continued to be important concerns of our society. We now conceive of childhood as a highly eventful and unique period of life that lays an important foundation for the adult years and is highly differentiated from them. The childhood is now valued as a special time of growth and change, and one must invest great resources in caring for and educating the children. They have to be protected from the excesses of adult work through strict child-labor laws. The crimes they commit in the society should be tried under a special Juvenile Justice Act (Santrock, 2001).
‘Child rearing’ is a broad concept. It is described by various scholars, to include various tasks. By and large this includes the overall care, socialization and training of the growing child in a particular culture. Thus it may be viewed as the tasks involved in meeting the progressive needs of the growing child at various stages of Development (Kusuma 1997).
Child rearing attempts to develop ways of raising children that will not psychologically cripple them but instead enable them to accept freedom and responsibility while developing natural self-regulation. "Don't worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you." — (Robert Fulghum 1937).
Child rearing is part of society, a communal process by which children learn what it means to be an individual by being respected as one by others. In Bakunin's words, "real freedom - that is, the full awareness and the realization thereof in every individual, pre-eminently based upon a feeling of one's dignity and upon the genuine respect for someone else's freedom and dignity, i.e. upon justice - such freedom can develop in children only through the rational development of their minds, character and will (Goldman, 1931).
Child rearing is all about giving a well-rounded individuality that would include imbibing morals in him so that when he grows up he is an individual with integrity, courage and respect for truthand is also a tax-paying citizen. This can only happen as said by Emma Goldman in Red Emma Speaks“through the channel of the child that the development of the mature man must go, and that the present ideas of educating or training . . . are such as to stifle the natural growth of the child "(Goldman, 1931).