ABOUT THIS BOOK
In this provocative history of parenting, Harry Hendrick analyzes the social and economic reasons behind parenting trends. He shows how broader social changes, including neoliberalism, feminism, the collapse of the social-democratic ideal, and the “new behaviorism,” have led to the rise of the anxious and narcissistic parent. The book charts the shift from the liberal and progressive parenting styles of the 1940s through the ’70s to the more behavioral, punitive, and managerial methods of childrearing today, made popular by so-called experts like Gina Ford and Supernanny Jo Frost and—in the United Kingdom—by New Labour parent education programs. This trend, Hendrick argues, is symptomatic of the sour, mean-spirited, and vindictive social norms found throughout society today. It undermines the better instincts of parents and, therefore, damages parent-child relationships. Instead, he proposes, parents should focus on understanding and helping their children as they do the hard work of growing up.