“The father has an equal interest in their welfare . . . “

Dr. William Buchan’s special interest was the care of children; the first chapter in his book Domestic Medicine (see previous post) is devoted to children. Here are some comments I found particularly interesting.

Nothing can be more preposterous than a mother who thinks it below her to take care of her own child, or who is so ignorant as not to know what is proper to be done for it. . . . Every mother who can, ought certainly perform so tender and agreeable an office [as suckling their children]. . . . A mother who abandons the fruit of her womb, as soon as it is born, to the sole care on an hireling, hardly deserves the name. . . . Were the time that is generally spent by females in the acquisition of trifling accomplishments, employed in learning how to bring up their children; how to dress them so as not to hurt, cramp, or confine their motions; how to feed them with wholesome and nourishing food; how to exercise their tender bodies, so as best to promote their growth and strength: where these made the objects of female instruction, mankind would derive the greatest advantages from it.

But the mother is not the only person concerned in the management of children. The father has an equal interest in their welfare, and ought to assist in every thing that respects either the improvement of the body or mind. It is pity that the men should be so inattentive to this matter. . . . [M]en generally keep at such a distance from even the smallest acquaintance with the affairs of the nursery, that many would reckon it an affront, were they supposed to know any thing of them. . . .

Buchan takes physicians of his time to task for not devoting their attention to the care of children and the treatment of diseases that afflict them. His criticism of social priorities, if not physicians themselves, could have been written today.

What labour and expence are daily bestowed to prop an old tottering carcase for a few years, while thousands of those who might be useful in life, perish without being regarded.

Domestic Medicine can be read ONLINE. The excerpts in this post are taken from pages 2-6.

posted May 15th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Children, Education, Health, Medicine


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