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Dr. Spock Says What??

Book Examines How Spock Child-Rearing Advice Would Differ Throughout The World

March 6, 2001-- American parents for decades have turned to Dr. Benjamin Spock for child-rearing advice. But if the child-care guru had been a healer from Bali or an Aboriginal grandmother from Australia, that advice might well be different.

"A World of Babies, Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies" takes such an inventive approach. Child-rearing "manuals" in the book are written by Dr. Spock-like authority figures, such as a grandmother, midwife, healer or diviner, whose advice is sought after and respected in the countries profiled.

Edited by Judy DeLoache, currently the Kenan Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, and Alma Gottlieb, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the book offers sometimes startling descriptions of parenting practices outside the western frame of reference.

The child-care guides, for example, reveal that:

  • Some Nigerian mothers place a small knife by a sleeping baby’s head to keep it safe;
  • Babies in Bali are not supposed to touch the ground for seven months; and
  • Ivory Coast mothers believe that jewelry protects children from illness.

Each of the seven child-care guides offers advice to prospective and new parents. They also include a biography of the fictional Dr. Spock-like figure and descriptions of the culture he or she lives in.

Published by Cambridge University Press, the book is an outgrowth of a seminar on cross-cultural views of infancy that Gottlieb and DeLoache taught together when DeLoache was a psychology professor at the University of Illnois, Urbana-Champaign.

"What we offer in the book is a set of imagined infant-care ‘manuals’ that use fictional techniques to make nonfictional points," the authors write. They believe such an approach helps readers realize that despite current trends toward globalization, child-rearing practices can differ radically throughout the world.

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857

 

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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