Wanna turn a quick buck? Write a manual telling yuppies how to parent. The New Yorker's Joan Acocella tackles the plethora of tomes dedicated to the scourge of overparenting. "This used to be known as 'spoiling.' Now it is called 'overparenting'—or 'helicopter parenting' or 'hothouse parenting' or 'death-grip parenting,'" Acocella notes. "The term has changed because the pattern has changed. It still includes spoiling—no rules, many toys—but two other, complicating factors have been added. One is anxiety. Will the child be permanently affected by the fate of the hamster? Did he touch the corpse, and get a germ? The other new element—at odds, it seems, with such solicitude—is achievement pressure." As Acocella acknowledges, these are rich people problems.Some of the mothers discussed in this round-up of parenting books have quit their jobs to raise children, and a few of the book writers think those opt-out mommies are at a greater risk for overparenting. "Such a woman faces a huge loss of income—one source says a million dollars, on average, over the course of her career. It is no surprise that she might want child-rearing to be a project worthy of that sacrifice," says Acocella. But seriously: reading about helicopter moms creating legions of selfish brats is almost as annoying as the actuality of little Cheyenne and Basil screaming and punching your computer while you're trying to work at a coffee shop. The last paragraph of Acocella's piece pretty much sums it up:
For the past three decades, [Steven] Mintz [the author of Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood] writes, discussions of child-rearing in the United States have been dominated by a 'discourse of crisis,' and yet America’s youth are now, on average, 'bigger, richer, better educated, and healthier than at any other time in history.' There have been some losses. Middle-class white boys from the suburbs have fallen behind their predecessors, but middle-class girls and minority children are far better off. Mintz thinks that we worry too much, or about the wrong things. Despite general prosperity—at least until recently—the percentage of poor children in America is greater today than it was thirty years ago. One in six children lives below the poverty line. If you want an emergency, Mintz says, there’s one.
The Child Trap: The Rise Of Overparenting. [New Yorker]