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The Emergence of Teenagers

As the 1950's rolled around, a new generational identity began to emerge: the teenager. In 1946 when Dr. Spock's first manual was published, parents did not need to be told how to raise their adolescents, however this changed with the development of a new age class.

This new breed of teenagers were a mystery to their parents. Because it was made up of members of the "baby boom" generation, teenagers were an overall larger generation pool. In addition to this large population of teens, this generation saw more independance than any generation before their time. With the development of suburbia and cars as a common staple in families, teenagers were able to go on dates, go to the movies, go anywhere they wanted to, really. This created a community of a like-minded generation. Additionally, this time was very prosperous, and this generation was an untapped market for music, clothes, cigarettes, and movies. With so much independance, freedom, and attention from the market, they often grew large egos. All of these elements combined to lead to teenage rebellion in the 1960's.  Mothers turned to parenting books and advice columns frantically, not knowing how to deal with these new issues. 

When Dr. Spock's second manual came out, even he -the guru of childcare- did not know much about how to handle this wild new group. His 1957 guide featured what seemed to be an afterthought about adolescents, containing just a few paragraphs of advice about this unstudied behavior. However, in his 1968 revision, Dr. Spock contained a much greater chunk of advice, acquired from observations as well as personal experience with his own children, who were teenagers at this time. 

Some of Dr. Spock's key tips from 1968 included: treating adolescents as adults, yet holding parental experience in higher regards than adolescent experience, requiring good personal hygiene and style, encouraging cordial behavior, requiring that adolescents help their families both financially and laboriously, and forbidding dating until at least age seventeen.


The Emergence of Teenagers