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All Joy and No Fun

The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
Senior, Jennifer (Book - 2014 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
All Joy and No Fun


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Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. In asking, what are the effects of children on their parents, journalist Jennifer Senior analyzes the many ways in which children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear. Recruiting from a wide variety of sources, she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. She makes us reconsider some of our culture's most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives. By focusing on parentHOOD, rather than parentING, the book is original and essential reading for mothers and fathers of today--and tomorrow.--From publisher description.
Authors: Senior, Jennifer
Title: All joy and no fun
the paradox of modern parenthood
Publisher: New York, N.Y. :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
Characteristics: 308 pages ;,24 cm
Content Type: text
Media Type: unmediated
Carrier Type: volume
Summary: Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. In asking, what are the effects of children on their parents, journalist Jennifer Senior analyzes the many ways in which children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear. Recruiting from a wide variety of sources, she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. She makes us reconsider some of our culture's most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives. By focusing on parentHOOD, rather than parentING, the book is original and essential reading for mothers and fathers of today--and tomorrow.--From publisher description.
ISBN: 9780062072221
0062072226
Statement of Responsibility: Jennifer Senior
Copyright Date: ©2014
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (pages [273]-300) and index
Subject Headings: Parenthood Children Parent and child FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Parenting / Child Rearing SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family
Topical Term: Parenthood
Children
Parent and child
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS Parenting Child Rearing
SOCIAL SCIENCE Sociology Marriage & Family
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Report This Apr 14, 2014
  • ksoles rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Helicopter Parents...Tiger Moms...Panda Dads...bookstore shelves groan under the weight of resources explaining the effects of parenting styles on children. But how does having children affect parents? In the fascinating "All Joy and No Fun," Jennifer Senior connects a barrage of scholarship to her own case studies of numerous middle class families in an attempt to answer this complex question. Senior organizes her chapters loosely by stage of childhood, explaining how each stage impacts parents both physically and emotionally. Infancy leads to sleeplessness, toddlerhood to constant negotiation, middle childhood to overscheduled lives, and the teenage years to inevitable self-reflection. Senior does not offer a how-to manual for parents here; she writes about parent-HOOD not parent-ING and gracefully shows how each generation of children inevitably and irrevocably changes the generation of parents who bore them. Senior proves her talent as a writer throughout the book, transporting the reader into a family's Brooklyn kitchen on one page then beautifully glossing a complicated academic text on the next. Additionally, Senior does not shy from offering a dissenting opinion on oft-cited studies, making her a wise and cautious guide on the subject. As the mother of a 3.5 year old, my head nodded the whole time I read as I found numerous passages that begged to be shared with friends. Yes, Senior concludes, life as a parent might not be much "fun." But something else lies in the experience of sharing life with children: meaning, connectedness, legacy and, above all, joy.

Report This Mar 24, 2014
  • susankent rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

TED alumnus Jennifer Senior asks some interesting questions and sites some new research, and since most parents love reading about other people's parenting experiences, this book is worth reading.

"And our kids have way more stuff than you and I had when we were kids. There's plenty for them to do ... and yet all of us feel like we have to be deeply, aggressively interactive and I'm not clear on whether or not kids benefit from that."

Report This Mar 14, 2014
  • sarahblossom rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

My favorite part of this book about parenting (not the same thing as a book that gives parenting advice) is that it put the concept of modern day parenting in historical context. Did you know that there were very few dedicated toys for children until about 100 years ago? Playgrounds weren't a thing until automobiles went mainstream and it became too dangerous to play in the street. Compulsory school went universal afer WWII, and childhood and youth culture as we now know it began. Women, many of whom were not in the workforce, spent LESS time with kids in the 1950s than they do now (by a factor of like 10 hours a week!). The term "parenting" iteself wasn't coined until the 1970s...All this is to say, we live in a confusing and ever changing time for what it means to be a good parent. There is much discussion here too about happiness, what it means to parent when our society puts so much priority on the happiness of the parents and children, even though it is a fleeting, evasive thing. Some interesting thoughts of parenting viewed through the lense of memory also. Much of the book discusses the challenges of parenting, but it covers the joys and satisfaction of parenting too. I really liked this book but I'm not sure it's for everyone. It feels like coursework for a sociology class. It isn't a particularly "fun" read and there's not any actual parenting advice in it. I found it validating though - parenting in general is hard. Parenting in a time when there is still much anxiety about mothers holding jobs outside the home, little extended family for support, or absolute uncertainty about what kind of upbringing best prepares kids for the "real world" - that's even harder.

Report This Feb 17, 2014
  • stephaniedchase rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Not a lot of surprises, if you've read some of the recent articles and books on modern parenting. Parents today are too hard on themselves; society has unrealistic expectations of children and parents; parents fight about who does the chores; not getting enough sleep is bad for your health; etc. I did appreciate the look at how, as a parent, it is not possible to be in "flow," because you are constantly interrupted, and that one parent usually ends up managing the time-dependent household tasks (getting the kids dressed, brushing their teeth, making appointments, etc), and that parent usually feels like the other one is not pulling their weight. Written with a friendly, engaging tone.

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