There have always been parents, but the idea of ‘parenting’ is a relatively new phenomena. From national panics about obesity to the ramping up of social-worker involvement in school life, who looks after our children and how they do it has never been so important. Modern families are more likely to pay attention to how they ‘parent’ than previous generations, with trends like ‘child-led’ parenting and a focus on children’s rights. Indeed, Save the Children even offers a child-friendly version of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child so that kids can make sure their parents are doing ‘what’s best’ for them.
And yet, despite all this intensive parenting, family life seems to be increasingly under attack. Some argue that a lack of authority in both the classroom and the home has resulted in rising numbers of children reporting concerns about their mental health. Others argue that parents pose a threat to children’s development, stifling their ability to become their true selves. Families being locked up together during the pandemic has sparked concerns among commentators that a rise in child abuse and neglect is inevitable. So serious is parenting for some that even White House terrier Kellyanne Conway quit her role citing concerns about parenting during the pandemic. For now, she said, it’ll be ‘less drama, more mama’.
In her new book, The Problem with Parenting: how raising children is changing across America, Nancy McDermott investigates the current excesses of American parenting. Looking at the changing nature of childrearing from the 1970s onwards, The Problem with Parenting makes the case for a renewal of a societal commitment to children and the rising generation.
This book launch is in association with the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS) at the University of Kent.
author, The Problem with Parenting: how raising children is changing across America; former convenor, Park Slope Parents
in conversation with
Dr Jan Macvarish
visiting research fellow, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent; author, Neuroparenting: the expert invasion of family life
The Problem with Parenting: how raising children is changing across America by Nancy McDermott (buy this book from Amazon UK)