Who Are This Little Creatures Living in My House (and Why Are They Here?)

Jennifer Senior's book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood is entertaining, engaging, and well-researched, but I have to warn you, the book does get down to brass tacks; it asks the biggest and most existential of parental questions: why the hell are we doing this? and reminds us that the modern goal of parenting -- to raise happy, creative, well-adjusted children that can achieve anything they wish-- is rather elusive, compared to "the concrete aims of parenting in the past: creating competent children in certain kinds of work; and creating morally responsible citizens who will fulfill a prescribed set of community obligations," in other words, teaching your kid the family business and the community religion, and hoping it works out for them . . . but those days are long gone, and in the words of Viviana Zelizer, children have become "economically worthless but emotionally priceless."

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