Benjamin Spock

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Benjamin Spock

Benjamin McLane Spock (2 May 1903 - 15 March 1998) American pediatrician and author.


  • I really learned it all from mothers.
    • Time magazine (8 April 1985)
  • I've come to the realization that a lot of our problems are because of a dearth of spiritual values.
    • Associated Press interview (1992)
  • People have said, "You've turned your back on pediatrics." I said, "No. It took me until I was in my 60s to realize that politics was a part of pediatrics."
    • Associated Press interview (1992)
  • I would say that the surest measure of a man's or a woman's maturity is the harmony, style, joy, and dignity he creates in his marriage, and the pleasure and inspiration he provides for his spouse.
    • Quoted in Older & Wiser Edited by G. B. Dianda and B. J. Hofmayer (1995)

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

Quotations from Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care first published in 1945, with many updated editions since.

  • You know more than you think you do.
    • First sentence. This is printed beneath the heading "Trust Yourself" , and thus is often quoted as "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. "
  • Don't take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don't be overawed by what the experts say. Don't be afraid to trust your own common sense.
  • The more people have studied different methods of bringing up children the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is the best after all. All parents do their best job when they have a natural, easy confidence in themselves. Better to make a few mistakes from being natural than to try to do everything letter-perfect out of a feeling of worry.
  • The fact is that child rearing is a long, hard job, the rewards are not always immediately obvious, the work is undervalued, and parents are just as human and almost as vulnerable as their children.
  • There are only two things a child will share willingly— communicable diseases and his mother's age.
  • In automobile terms, the child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.


  • All the time a person is a child he is both a child and learning to be a parent. After he becomes a parent he becomes predominantly a parent reliving childhood.
  • Biologically and temperamentally, I believe women were made to be concerned first and foremost with child care, husband care and home care.
  • Every child senses, with all the horse sense that's in him, that any parent is angry inside when children misbehave and they dread more the anger that is rarely or never expressed openly, wondering how awful it might be.
  • Happiness is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled.
  • Having a good time together is the essence of lovingness and the best means of increasing it.
  • I wanted to be supportive of parents rather than to scold them. The book set out very deliberately to counteract some of the rigidities of pediatric tradition, particularly in infant feeding. It emphasized the importance of great differences between individual babies, of the need for flexibility and of the lack of necessity to worry constantly about spoiling.
  • I'm not a pacifist. I was very much for the war against Hitler and I also supported the intervention in Korea, but in this war we went in there to steal Vietnam.
  • If I could make only one wish for a child, I'd wish him the quality of lovingness.
  • Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal.
  • Perhaps a child who is fussed over gets a feeling of destiny; he thinks he is the world for something important, and it gives him drive and confidence.
  • Respect children because they're human beings and they deserve respect, and they'll grow up to be better people. But I've always said ask for respect from your children, ask for cooperation, ask for politeness. Give your children firm leadership.
  • The loving person makes other people feel good, and he is usually a happy person himself. He is able to form strong, long-lasting friendships.
  • Well, at least nobody could accuse me of having brought up Spiro Agnew.
    • On being criticized by Spiro Agnew and others as having been responsible for parents being too permissive, and the bringing up of a generation full of rebellious radicals.
  • What is the use of physicians like myself trying to help parents to bring up children healthy and happy, to have them killed in such numbers for a cause that is ignoble?
    • On the war in Vietnam
  • When women are encouraged to be competitive, too many of them become disagreeable.

Quotes of others about Spock

  • An entire generation grew up unacquainted with the thwack of paddle against bottom. ~ Jonathan Yardley American Heritage (April 1985)
  • Some physicians who have called him excessively permissive just didn't understand and gave his understanding approach to child rearing a negative label. He was blamed for the radical behavior of the youth in the '60s. But that didn't emerge from Spock's teachings. It was far more a reflection of the social and political climate. ~ Dr. Marvin Drellich, professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College.

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