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Parenting Inc.


Parenting Inc., Pamela Paul

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

I found this book on a sale stand when I was buying Christmas presents in December and – given what lay ahead for us at that time – figured it might be an interesting read.  Contrary to the Publisher’s Weekly commentary below, I did find the book quite preachy at the outset, Paul is decidedly on a rant for a good portion of the book.  And I’m not usually a fan of overly biased non-fiction books (Nassim Nicholas Taleb take note!).  But Parenting Inc. was definitely an interesting and insightdul read.  As I see more and more $1000+ strollers cruising the sidewalks of Marin it was comforting to read that I’m not the only one that’s quite aghast at just how much of a business raising a baby has turned into.  From strollers to computerized toys, toddler algebra classes and the latest-and-greatest edutainment, I often find myself questi0ning the benefits of all this early childhood stimulation and expense.  The most interesting parts of the book for me were the excerpts Paul presents from countless peer-reviewed studies dealing with early cognitive development, the effects of television on infants and academic experts’ opinions of the plethora of edutainment available for children these days…  Not a must for the bookshelf but if you can find it on sale it’s worth having a read.

Publisher’s Weekly: Paul, mother of two, probes the business of parenting, exposing the high price of raising kids in our consumer-driven nation.  Paul points out that it costs upwards of a million dollars to raise a child in the U.S. these days, especially if one buys into the theory that baby must have everything on the market.  Following the money, Paul dissects the booming baby business, including smart toys that don’t really make kids smarter, themed baby showers and parenting coaches and consultants.  The text is a tireless rundown of parents’ seemingly bottomless pocketbooks when it comes to bringing up baby, and according to Paul this is not just an upscale, cosmopolitan phenomenon—throughout the country parents are reaching deep into their pockets to fuel this spiraling craze.  Though Paul incorporates the pithy quotes of a number of experts, such as psychologist David Elkind’s observation, computers are part of our environment, but so are microwaves and we don’t put them in cribs, readers may find themselves wishing for more commentary and less litany.  But Paul isn’t preachy, although she does reveal that what babies really need is holding, singing, dancing, conversation and outdoor play

Parenting Inc.  

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  1. Anita says:

    There’s all you need in the last sentence – there can never be too much of that – even into adulthood!