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Puritan Families, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The term puritan was used to refer to the extreme Protestants in the 16th century .these Protestants believed that the English reformation had done beyond borders in reforming the structure and doctrines of the church in England; they wanted to abandon all the catholic traditions which they believed to be means of cleansing their nation .In the 17 th century they emigrated and founded a commonwealth in new England where the culture has remained till the 19th century. The Puritan commonwealth remained the high point of reference for Christian families in New England between 1630 and 1700. The family was the centre to Puritan theology and practice. This was clearly shown repeatedly in personal letters and sermons which stated that their core motivation in settling the new world was to prepare their children’s future. Their political philosophy started with building strong families f and then went on to church and finally the state.

The puritan families were made up of father, mother and children and were considered the society’s basic unit with the mother and father having specific roles. The family was not considered a complete unit without the presence of any of the three vital perhaps the high point of the Christian family in America was the Puritan commonwealth in New England from 1630-1700. The family was central to Puritan theology and practice. Repeatedly in sermons, and personal letters, the Puritans state that their primary motivation in settling the new world was to provide a future for their children. Preachers loved familial imagery in their sermons. Their political philosophy began with building strong families first, and then went on to church and state (Salmon M.  1987).

The puritans lived in villages composed of four blocks within which relatives were put together.  The husband was the head of the family and his roles included providing for the family, protecting and caring for them as well as teaching children morals (Kupperman 2000). This means that the families believed in the father taking a lead role in family matters. The husband and wife contributed to the puritans farming way of life by planting and weeding. Men also served as ministers and were also involved in professional trade where they performed various roles. The women’s role included weaving, making of candles, as well as decorative ornaments either for trade or domestic use. On the other hand Puritanism encompassed what many have come to view as a great deal of hypocrisy and pretence due to the fact that there was an accepted work ethic and family behavior which tended to force people into deeds out of norm rather than conviction.

In the puritan family the roles were clearly distinct. The structure was based on a husband over wife, parents over children and masters over servants and there was no duplicity of roles (Nash 1974). The roles and responsibilities of each over the other were clearly demarcated.

The relationship between parents and children in the puritan families was characterized by authority and obedience.  The children reciprocated their parents’ proper love with discipline which was very essential in this society which existed without police.  The parents disciplined disobedient children as a spiritual concern because a breakdown in family rule was an indication of a disregard of God’s order. Puritans believed that there was connection between the discipline of a child and   readiness for conversion later in life. This heavy emphasis on obedience put pressures on the Puritan mother. The Puritans mothers were expected to care for their young children tenderly and a mother who doted was accused of failing to keep Gods present. In addition , Puritan believed  pr the father keep a distant governance check  on the mother’s tenderness  to a child once a male child reached the age of 6 or 7 to ensure  that he brought  the child to God’s authority.

The new Englanders simplified the complicated English laws on land and sought to give women property rights. In the 16th century a woman, friends or relatives were allowed to make a contract in which a woman or her trustee were allowed to retain full management rights over her individual property. The husband or his creditors was not allowed to touch separate property either real or personal placed under such trust. The rule of equity protected women who owned separate estates and in such case their husbands lost the traditional law marital rights which allowed access to all their wives property (Salmon M.  1987).

References

Kupperman K. (2000). Major problems in American colonial history. Washington:Houghton Mifflin.

Nash G. (1974) Red, white, and black: the peoples of early America.Chicago:
Prentice-Hall.

Salmon M.  (1987).Women and the Law of Property in Early America. NC: UNC Press.

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