Plutarch, a prominent Greek biographer, wrote many excerpts of various depths with instructions on learning. In one of his essays: ‘The Training of Children’, he writes about the different approaches to raising children in Ancient Rome (Plutarch 1). Some parents parent their children strictly and well, while some parents have little consideration or care about them. Conversely, the key to bringing up respectful, responsible, and intelligent children attributes to two factors. education and instruction which leads to virtue and felicity (Child-Rearing).
Plutarch Excerpts (Child-Rearing)
Plutarch said, “…is good education and regular instruction; that these two afford great help and assistance toward the attainment of virtue and felicity.” Rome’s people valued religion and education for their children to be the best. Even though kids attended classes to learn, they also learned from their mother and father at home. Parents wanted their children to remain well disciplined and mannered and be as good or even better than their parents.
Surprisingly, children learn in America today, and surprisingly share some common similarities with Ancient Rome. For most households in the United States, both mother and father play an essential role in child-rearing instruction (Bourke 1176). “The mother’s expectation to nurse her child if possible” and, “The chief thing that fathers are to look to is that they become effectual examples to their children, by doing all those things which belong to them and avoiding all vicious practices…” Plutarch’s view on child-rearing was a joint parental responsibility, and the father had an important role.
Plutarch’s article describes good and bad parents, and in America, we have some not-so-good parents. Good parents, “roots of honesty and virtue”, remains valued and shown to their first born kids in Ancient Rome (Plutarch 4). On the other hand, bad parents do not care about their kids. “But there are fathers nowadays who deserve that men ought to spit on them in contempt… or it may be, such as branded with infamy (Child-Rearing).
The father would pity the child who was acting in the wrong way. In America today, good parents are those who care, nurture, and teach their children by being hands-off. The children end up better behaved than children of parents who allow them to do whatever they want and have no say in their growing up, leading to misbehavior (Di Meo 94). Parents in both these times also seek advice on how to parent through friends. Parents today will reach out to friends and family and ask how to go about something. In Rome, “… sometimes [parents are] prevailed on to gratify friends who entreat them” (Plutarch 2).
Parents look up to other parents to see that their kids stays well-behaved. In a way, they want to jump on the bandwagon and be like other parents to have a mannered child. Also, in America, moms look up to their mom, if it is in a specific culture, to get help with parenting and friends. Lastly, parents in Rome and the United States believe that education is the best child-rearing (Child-Rearing).
Plutarch states that education and regular instruction are needed to have virtue and felicity in one’s life (Plutarch 3,4). Education remains valuable so highly in Roman culture since it teaches children how to read, write, and obtain new information. “Social workers agree that education, not punishment, remains the best way to adapt to America’s attitudes” In America, they too believe that educating sons and daughters benefits the child upbringing.
Lastly, parents’ child-rearing in Ancient Rome and present-day America differ significantly. In American society, most parents are hands-on with their kids and coddle, which is stood out. Some fathers in the household do absolutely nothing to engage in child-rearing, and some mothers do everything for the household (Greenfield 90). In such cases, mothers are overburdened with responsibilities, especially when they are never present to focus on child development processes (Child-Rearing).
Child rearing in America is more lenient and laid back than in Ancient Rome. For children to do homework or chores, “American mothers tend to use contingent rewards.” In Rome, mothers and fathers have a dual partnership in raising their kids. Parents who should follow Plutarch’s teachings should teach their kids from the start how to behave with discipline and to follow in their mother and father’s footsteps. American culture tends to have a bribery technique to get kids to do specific tasks (Brusie 2018). Roman culture believed in being strict, and if a child misbehaved or abided by the rules, consequences were made.
Consequences and reprimanding are not used in America since many parents babysit their children. “In America, the individual is the most important. American society might consider the family’s discipline to be too strong, especially if the child is hurt physically or emotionally.” They often feel bad about yelling at their children. On the other hand, Romans did not feel the same way Americans did and differed very much (Child-Rearing).
Bourke, Graeme Francis. “How to Create the Ideal Son: The Unhidden Curriculum In Pseudo-Plutarch On The Training of Children.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 46.10 (2013): 1174-1186. Web.
Brusie, Chaunie. “American Parenting Practices That Seem Weird to The Rest of The World.” Healthy Way, 8 May 2018.
Di Meo, Paolo. “Plutarch’s Marriage Advice and the Tradition of the Poetic Epithalamium.” The Discourse of Marriage in the Greco-Roman World (2020): 94.
Gay, Geneva. “Acting on beliefs in teacher education for cultural diversity.” Journal of teacher education 61.1-2 (2010): 143-152.
Greenfield, Patricia M. “Social Change, Cultural Evolution, And Human Development.” Current Opinion in Psychology 8 (2016): 84-92. Web.
Plutarch: “The Training of Children, c. 110 CE.”