I've always found it interesting how parents could be screaming at their children & complaining about them in one breath, and then in the next ask when *I* was going to have kids and tell me how wonderful they were. Gee, you're a walking advertisement. ;)
This paradox is reflected in the title and explored in the pages of Jennifer Senior's new book, "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood." This is not so much a how-to manual or advice guide as a study of the challenges of modern parenthood, how those challenges are different from what parents of the past faced, and the impact of parenting on parents themselves. There is a nice balance of academic research (presented in a highly accessible way) and chats with/observations of real-life parents and kids.
Senior sets out and explores three reasons why modern parenting has become such a complicated affair:
- First, for the first time in history, parenthood is a choice -- when and whether to have children at all and, if so, how many. In the past, children were viewed as an economic necessity (to help with the family farm or business) or moral obligation; today, children are seen as crowning achievements and sources of parental fulfillment. “Mothering and fathering aren’t just things we do," Senior observes. "Being a mother or being a father is who we are.”
- Second, governments and businesses have yet to adjust to the influx of mothers into the workplace. Fathers, too are trying to figure out their new roles.
- Finally, childhood itself has been completely redefined in the years since the Second World War. As Senior observes, "Children went from being our employees to our bosses."
If you're a parent, you will likely find this book a source of validation and insight into your role. On the flip side, one review I read said that if you're on the fence about becoming a parent & read this book, you'll probably run away screaming. ;) (Or words to that effect.) I'm not sure about that -- we all know that parenting is hard. This book may not give you any firm answers as to whether you should take the plunge... but it sure raises some interesting questions. I enjoyed it!
This is book #4 that I have read in 2014.