While life has changed hugely since the Second World War, a new collection of archive films proves that many methods for raising children have remained the same.
Through a series of mainly grainy black and white archive films, the Your Children And You collection demonstrates that there are some eternal parenting truths that time simply hasn’t eroded.
The collection’s opening film, first published in 1946, begins with a very proper male voice telling viewers: ‘As soon as you’re a parent, you have troubles you didn’t have before.
‘At present it’s all give, give, give by you and take, take, take by him.
‘In many ways, he’s the tyrant and you’re just his slave. This takes hours and hours of your time, completely altering your life.’
The wording may sound extreme but many modern parents will agree – and should perhaps take note of the film’s subsequent warning: ‘The slave has got to start right away to teach the young tyrant that family life has sensible rules.’
Chris Cloke of the NSPCC says the films, which are part of the Central Office of Information (COI) Collection released by the British Film Institute (BFI), are ‘fascinating’, and explains: ‘In many ways they were well ahead of their time, with a big focus on positive parenting and advice against smacking.’
Patrick Russell, senior non-fiction curator at the British Film Institute National Archive, says they’re a good gauge of official thinking about childcare and parenthood in the 1940s.
‘In many respects, things have changed – but many viewers will be surprised that the attitudes expressed in the films aren’t as dated as might be expected,’ he says. ‘For instance, their position on physical punishment is more liberal than the one many parents at the time – and some parents now – would have held.’
Your Children And You is priced £19.99.