©2009 Lenore Skenazy; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
"Skenazy flies the black flag of "America's Worst Mom," a title this syndicated columnist and NPR commentator earned by allowing her nine-year-old son to ride the New York City public transit alone in 2008. Here, she puts parents' fears to bed by examining the statistical likelihood of the dangers we most fear (murder, baby-snatching, etc.). Drawing on facts, statistics, and humor, she convincingly argues that this is one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world, reiterating that "mostly, the world is safe...and mostly, people are good." Even the lowest-flying helicopter parents would have trouble disagreeing that "we have entered an era that says you cannot trust yourself. Trust a product instead." Skenazy argues that it's time to retire the national pastime of worrying and that "childhood is supposed to be about discovering the world, not being held captive." The obvious has never been so hilarious." (Library Journal)
I read this today and was relieved to find it was written by someone who can actually write, has a sense of humour and - best of all - can succesfully avoid triggering the gag reflex of a 41-year-old male curmudgeon. I was quite interested at the range of emotion it provoked in me, from wanting to shake her hand and buy her a drink to wanting to hurl the book across the room. I didn't hurl it though because it's an audiobook and my ipod is precious so I hurled James Joyce's "Ulysses" instead. Even after all these years it's surprising how therapeutic that can be.
Anyway, she's very good* on educational toys, Baby Einstein DVDs ("Even Mozart didn't listen to Mozart as a kid. His kids did though - and who's ever heard of them?"), and general running-about-outdoors-and-making-a-mess. she is fundamentally unsound** on breastfeeding and bicycling***. There are some dodgy applications of statistics in there and some hackneyed health-and-safety-gone-mad stories are trotted out, such as that old chestnut - no pun intended - about conkers being banned throughout England by government fiat. On the whole, the buy-her-a-drink tendency outweighed the throw-Ulysses-across-the-room tendency about 80:20, so buy the book if you're in the mood to have an argument with the author in your head or if you need an antidote to society's excesses but that's about it.
*=by which of course i mean "she reinforces my prejudices"
**=by which of course i mean "she does not reinforce my prejudices"
***=alliteration aside, even i would have to admit it is unwise to combine the two...."
The book was good, but it could have been about a third shorter if the author had cut out all of the cutesy asides. There were way too many, and they were annoying. Other than that, it was a good book with good reminders.
I found this topic thought provoking and the book offered a lot to agree or disagree or partially agree with, which I enjoyed. My one kind of significant issue with this audio book is the tone of voice of the reader. There was kind of a cloying snarkiness to it which I found to be unlikeable and actually made me feel more hesitant to embrace the author's ideas. It just made it all sound a little mean girl ish or negative or something despite what I believe was meant to be a positive and liberating book. I kept on because I did like the book, but had to take breaks from hearing the reader.
I was hoping this book would describe the childhood my parents and grandparents had, but the content was primarily just an argument for why one should let their children be "free range". However, there is little actual content on what it means to be "free range". I suspect anyone reading this book would have already decided to go "free range", making the repeated arguments for going "free range" unnecessary.
Headline for all American Parents: Mostly, Things Go Well --- This is what I really took away from Lenore's book, that yes, bad stuff happens, but mostly, things turn out okay. This doesn't mean to ignore or neglect your kids, but it notes how parenting in America has become this micro-managed activity where parents don't even feel comfortable letting their 12 or 13 year old go to the park without them.
It reminds us how we grew up-- without cellphones, with free-range of the neighborhood, walking to school or being out of touch with our parents for hours without them thinking we were abducted.
Why have we become such helicopter parents? Lenore's book looks at the question and considers the media and well, the disapproving looks of other parents and compares what we do as parents in America versus other parts of the world.
It's a great book to listen to if you want to give your kids more independence, but are worried about it or what might happen. I think it will be a book I will listen to on many occasions to re-remind me how much independence we used to have and how to help our kids have a little more.
Oh, the only negative in the book is at first you might think the reader is going to come off as annoying the whole book (almost a know-it-all), but her voice becomes more of a comfort than a hinderance as the book progresses.
Fantastic advice, well researched, and presented with humor. The reader did a great job bringing the voice of the author to life. I'm making my wife listen to it and giving it as a gift to every new parent I meet.
Someone who enjoys story after story and example after example. Basically says the same thing in many ways.
I have listened to her speak and she is much better in person. She has a strong message but the book could have been told in a chapter.
Got the impression she was trying to speak as the author would read it and it just didn't work. She would have been better being herself because it just became annoying all the high pitched sounds through the book. I couldn't finish it.
Not sure but sticking with one or two examples per fact would have held my interest more.
I would recommend talks by the author and her show bubble wrap kids but not the book.
I found it interesting. The author made some very good points. I am not a parent, but I am a preschool teacher and Helicopter Parents are a real thing! As a farmer, and farm kid, I never experienced a hovering parent. They didn't have time for that. I also didn't have siblings that lived with me (nor close in age), so my imagination was in full use. Some of the things, like the initial ride in the Subway, I've never done even as an adult--that's obviously a city thing. However, I could still relate and understand the points the author was making!
I thought there was great information and current crime statistics that help us to make more informed choices for our kids. Creativity and innovation is completely missing from the minds of many of our youth. I hope we parents can follow the advice outlined to allow and encourage independence, develop strength of character, and practice common sense.
I am a father of a 1-year and have been reading and reading and listen and watching all this parenting advice on what we should and shouldn't do for my child. Then I threw it all out the window! Then I found this book. It was a fun read, but more importantly filled with sound advice and backed up by facts and statistics. When my child is old enough (you know to walk and talk) I plan to re-read this book and put my general fears to rest and let him go explore the woods that surrounds our house and in general go and have fun being a kid! Thanks for the great read!
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