Find out about our favourite dishes of the past with the Childhood Special of Woman’s Weekly Vintage View
Family has always played such a central role in our readers’ lives. So it’s no surprise that so much of Woman’s Weekly has been relevant to children, or at least, to the mother.
From the 1920s to 40s, in the key area of bringing up healthy children, our weekly column by ‘Matron’ advised mums on issues such as how to stop baby’s legs chafing from their napkin (today’s nappy), the best position for baby to sleep in, cures for constipation, what would make a good weaning menu and whether five months was too young to take baby on their first train journey.
Many hundreds more questions were answered with unwavering certainty, reassurance – and occasional rigidity – over the decades.
Of course, parenting involved more than just physical health. Behavioural matters were addressed, too: toddlers that were hitting or biting; children who had trouble socialising; even the rather conceptual notion of instilling ‘presence of mind’ was explored. Mothers, too, were given firm guidance on setting a good example.
An article from 1916 warns against being a ‘dishonest mother’: telling off the child for a certain misdeameanour, and then setting a poor – and confusing – example by doing the self-same thing.Woman’s Weekly didn’t flinch from delicate or political issues either.
Adoption and poverty were both tackled, while its fiction often featured rather sad children and the kindly nurses or teachers who were there to help them find their way – subliminal and no-so-subliminal messages the magazine felt were equally important for women with a more settled family set-up.
After all, raising the next generation of well-adjusted children was a major job.
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