Benjamin Spock (1903 – 1998)

Dr. Benjamin Spock was an American pediatrician, known for telling parents that they should trust their instincts and common sense when it came to raising their children. He was a revolutionary doctor, in a time when parents were told to be rigid and to not show displays of affection. In the post Second World War, Spock instigated parents to be more flexible and understanding towards their children, as well as to listen to what they had to say. He believed children had a very important role in the family dynamics, and therefore should not be neglected. Millions of people followed his advice, despite criticism by many pediatricians who claimed he was too permissive and had given place to the young adults who protested against the war in Vietnam in the 1960’s. Spock himself was a vehement opposer of the war. He considered that there was no point in raising children to send them to be killed in a useless war. Due to this opposition, he was judged and convicted in 1968 for encouraging draft evasion. This conviction was overturned after his appeal, and in 1972 he was the presidential candidate of the People’s Party. He was in favor of free medical care, and of the legalization of many controversial subjects, such as abortion, homosexuality or marijuana. He was also a firm opposer of nuclear weapons. Despite a lot of criticism, in particular that of being responsible for encouraging parents to spoil their children, Spock was a man ahead of his time who was able to change mentalities, probably for the better.

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