Parenting advice from one of America's favorite experts.


Dr. Benjamin Spock has been giving parents advice about raising their children for decades. In this excerpt from his landmark work, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, he shares one of the 19 points he believes are most important for parents to keep in mind about their role in their child's life.

What are your aims in raising a child?

Raising children is more and more puzzling for many parents because we've lost a lot of our old-fashioned convictions about what kind of morals, ambitions, and character we want them to have. We are uncertain and worried about what kind of world awaits them as adults. The pace of social change is almost overwhelming. We can barely keep up with the latest dangers and opportunities for our children's well-being: drugs, violence, the information superhighway... the list seems endless.

In an uncertain world, with more uncertainty to come, we do well to ask ourselves just what our goals are in raising our children. Is doing well in school our most important objective for them? Is the ability to sustain intimate human relationships more important? Do we want them to be individualistic with a competitive edge so they can succeed in a dog-eat-dog society? Or do we want them to learn to cooperate and sometimes to renounce their own desires for the good of others? If the ultimate goal of raising children is the fashioning of a fully formed adult, then just what kind of person do we want that adult to be in order to be a happy and productive member of society?

These questions cut to the heart of much of raising children. Parenting is about choices. In order to decide what's best for your child, you will always be well served to step back and think about these tough questions before making a decision. So many parents get totally caught up in the difficult day-to-day issues of how they are parenting that they lose perspective about why they are parenting in the first place. I hope that raising your children will help you to understand your own ideas about what's really important to you in life and that this insight will guide the choices you make about raising your child.

Excerpted with permission from Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, Revised Seventh Edition, Pocket Books, 1998.

Copyright 1945, 1946, © 1957, 1968, 1976, 1985, 1992 by Benjamin Spock, MD. Copyright renewed © 1973, 1974, 1985, 1996 by Benjamin Spock, MD. Revised and updated material copyright © by The Benjamin Spock Trust

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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