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All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthoodby Jennifer Senior
Through case studies and scientific profundity, All Joy and No Fun delivers a thoughtful, in-depth look at parenthood rather than parenting. It's relieving, like being patted warmly on the back and hearing, "Chin up! We know it sucks, and here's why. But you're doing amazingly well. And here's a cookie."
Synopses & Reviews
Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. But almost none have thought to ask: What are the effects of children on their parents?
In All Joy and No Fun, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior tries to tackle this question, isolating and analyzing the many ways in which children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear. Recruiting from a wide variety of sources — in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology — she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. The result is an unforgettable series of family portraits, starting with parents of young children and progressing to parents of teens. Through lively and accessible storytelling, Senior follows these mothers and fathers as they wrestle with some of parenthood's deepest vexations — and luxuriate in some of its finest rewards.
Meticulously researched yet imbued with emotional intelligence, All Joy and No Fun makes us reconsider some of our culture's most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives. By focusing on parenthood, rather than parenting, the book is original and essential reading for mothers and fathers of today — and tomorrow.
"In 2010, New York magazine published contributing editor Senior's feature of the same title with the telling subhead: 'Why Parents Hate Parenting.' Here, Senior analyzes how children affect their parents from birth through adolescence, attempting to understand why middle-class millennial parents find this to be a 'high-cost/low reward activity.' Three modern developments have complicated parenting: choice in family size and timing; flexible workplaces, with long(er) hours and inadequate sponsored childcare; and the transformation of the child's role from 'useful' to 'protected' status. Senior utilizes academic studies and survey data about sex, marriage, pregnancy, childhood, sleep loss, earning power; she also cites data about why women and men approach parenting differently, and she also quotes many noted parent-child experts along the way. Her interviews with parents participating in Early Childhood Family Education classes offer different parenting styles and scenarios, and Senior adds a personal dimension, taking a good look at herself and her peers. In the end, readers will hopefully see the parenting journey as more about the children and less about adult emotions, that children's behavior is culturally mediated, and that negotiating with a toddler is futile. While [Jessica] Valenti's Why Have Kids? addressed unmet expectations versus daily reality, this book airs the 'I love my kids; I hate my life' litany of parents who, statistically, spend more time with their kids than the previous two generations. Agent: Tina Bennett, WME." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“An indispensable map for a journey that most of us take without one. Brilliant, funny and brimming with insight...an important book that every parent should read, and then read again. Jennifer Senior is surely one of the best writers on the planet.” Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
“If you're a parent in 2013, you have to get your hands on this book. Wise, engrossing, and so real that I fear Senior has been spying inside my house, All Joy is a must-read for those of us whose lives have been enriched and derailed by having kids.” Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of Prep and American Wife
“A lovely, thoughtful book, written in a generous spirit and with a piercing intelligence. Jennifer Senior manages to mix unflinching social commentary with a warm and compassionate voice.” Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
“Jennifer Senior has written a wonderful, smart, and deeply reported book that challenges many of the most sacred assumptions about modern parenthood. Written with authority and wisdom, it is destined to be the one book that all parents take with them on their mad, hair-raising, and, yes, joyous odyssey.” David Grann, bestselling author of The Lost City of Z
“The perfect intellectual Rx for today's overstressed parents. While scrupulously considering ‘big data, the triumph is Seniors own observations, presented with modesty and offhanded style, which brilliantly take down myths...a profound book about the meaning of love and how we raise not just our children, but ourselves.” Tom Reiss, author of The Black Count, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize
“All Joy and No Fun captures the complex texture of parents lives, the joys and the sorrows, highs and lows, with remarkable insight, intelligence, sensitivity, and subtlety.” Alison Gopnik, bestselling author of The Philosophical Baby
“Travelling far beyond the infant and toddler years into the acute challenges of adolescence, Senior ingeniously deconstructs the kinds of experiences that all parents have but few parents talk about, revealing in countless ways that none of us are in this alone. I loved this book.” Madeline Levine, bestselling author of Teach Your Children Well
About the Author
Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York magazine. She lives in New York with her family.
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