The Difficulty of Being a Child in French-Speaking Countries

  • J. Jacques Vonèche
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


When, before dawn on 9 January 1800, “Victor” (which was not his real name) came out of the woods near the village of Saint-Sernin in southern France, the knell of the ancient forms of childhood was ringing. Previously, parents had put up with bizarre children, poet children, sad children. The new parents were going to be different. Taking risks was running out of fashion. Child rearing would no longer be a venture: artist or wino, scientist or gay, Francis of Assissi or Marquis de Sade, Joan of Arc or Queen Margot, at random. The new ideal was the norm, and like all ideals it was arduous, fringed with uncertainty, and lined with anxiety. But, thanks to the goddess Reason, the French Revolution had come and French was being imposed on all as the standard tongue of the country. Napoléon Bonaparte had come into power and, as premier consul of France, was busy codifying everything at hand. Liberté, egalité,fraternité was being replaced with “property, equality, and liberty,” the official proclamation by which Napoleon signed his coup d’état on the 18th Brumaire, an. VIII (i.e., month of mists of the eighth year of the Revolution). The statement prophetically ended with this phrase:“Citizens, the Revolution is established on the principles upon which it was founded: It is over.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Jacques Vonèche
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Educational ScienceUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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