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American History

Whatwas the typical childhood of a Puritan like and what role didparental expectations/ societal influence play in shaping puritanchildhood? How does Puritan childhood differ from childhood in moderntimes?

Whatwas the typical childhood of a puritan like and what role didparental expectations/ societal influence play in shaping puritanchildhood? How does puritan childhood differ from childhood in moderntimes?

Puritanswere majorly governed by the values of Christianity. Their main goalwas to please and serve God through adopting righteous lifestyles andtraining their children in the way of God. The coming of Englandmerchants who were largely concerned with commercial activitiesthreatened the survival of the Puritans. Children of the Puritanswere raised in fear and respect for God. Children were guided by theteachings of Christianity. In modern days, children learn largelyfrom their environment and parents’ role has changed. Withincreasing civilization, parents are becoming more engaged in workand have little time for their children. This is perhaps one of themajor differences between the upbringings of children in these twoeras. This essay explores childhood during puritan, the role that thesociety played in determining their upbringing and finally compareshow childhood during the two periods differs.

Childrenof the Puritan were expected to listen to their parents and obey themat all times. When a child was sixteen years of age, and rebelledagainst his or her parents, the parents were expected to produceevidence before a magistrate proving that the child is stubborn andrebellious and does not listen to their voice or chastisement. If thejudge determined this claims that the child lives in diversenotorious crimes. In such instances, such a son deserved to be put todeath (Hollitz,2001).On the other hand, the society expected parents to lead theirchildren in Christian ways. Parents were held responsible for theirchildren behavior. As such, if it was established that a child wasastray due to negligence of their parents in education of theirchildren or provoked them through extreme or cruel parenting thatthey have chosen to save themselves from death or maiming. The lawrequired parents to teach their children the English tongue and someorthodox catechism. In addition, each man was expected to have a copyof the capital laws.

Childrenwere expected to be brought up in the way of God. They were supposedto be taught about God and his will for man, which in the end wouldshape them to be good citizens. First, children were expected to giveGod the affection given to a father, secondly pay reverence to Godwhich is due to a father, third children were expected to yield toGod the submission which is due unto a father and will not by anymeans dispute God’s will, but render utmost obedience. Fourthly,children were expected to have dependence on God as children dependon a father. Finally, children have a resemblance of God as childrenresemble their father. As such, if any of his colleagues go astray intheir behavior or routine interaction, he will rebuke them (Hollitz,2001).

Children’swere obliged to honor and respect their parents in puritan. From thebible’s teachings, children were expected to honor their fathers sothat they could live a happy and a long life. Failure to honor onesparents is punishable by death.

Theway Puritans brought up their children is quite different in themodern upbringing. Whereas parenting was closely knitted to Godlinessand Christianity doctrine and values, today, parents are free toraise their children in the way they desire. As such, children alsohave a right to choose their own path, deciding on what they wantwithout being concerned about their parents. Unlike with puritans,children of the modern times are not answerable to a court of law forbeing rebellious to their parents, neither are parents to blame forthe path their kids take in life. The media plays a significant rolein influencing children behavior today. As much as parents would likechildren to follow a set path, it becomes impossible. In addition,the harsh punishments that were given to rebellious sons were way tooexaggerated. Today, children are highly guarded by the law and no oneincluding their parents can mandate their punishment.

However,like the puritans parents of today love their children, care for themand want the best for them and the need to educate and guide them.Their objectives were the same as today’s although the approacheswere totally different. Puritan children were molded by the values,believes and material of the society just like the modern children.The significant difference between the puritan society’s values andbeliefs is the use of the bible as a guide. The modern society ischaracterized by mixed social cultural and religious beliefs thathave little influence on child rearing.

Inconclusion childhood in puritan era was based on Christian teachings.The parent was the first teacher to the child’s education. Childrendisrespecting their parents were unheard of, and bore seriousconsequences. The society expected children to submit to theirparents and follow the teachings. Today, children becoming rebelliousare a worrying trend. The role of media and the society is importantin shaping children behavior. Nevertheless, the role of a parent iscentral in upbringing.


Hollitz,J. (2001). Thinkingthrough the past : a critical thinking approach to U.S. history.Boston: Houghton Mifflin.