"All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood"

Apr 15, 2014

Kids are wonderful. Kids are amazing. Kids enrich, brighten, and deepen our lives as parents, obviously. But they also change us --- in so many ways --- and "being a parent" in America today means something very different from what it meant, say, fifty or sixty years ago. On this edition of ST, we speak with Jennifer Senior, a contributing editor at New York magazine, whose recently published and highly regarded new book is called "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood." This review of the book, as culled from The Huffington Post, is an on-the-mark summary of what this particular piece of nonfiction is all about: "Attention childless persons: If you're thinking of having kids, and are looking for an accurate assessment of the experience, disregard the holiday cards you may have received that portray merry families in various stages of triumph. Instead, read Jennifer Senior's book. This eloquent read is a tonic." And moreover, as was noted at Amazon.com when Senior's book was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month: "Lively and weirdly comforting.... Far afield from the headline-grabbing shockers in books like 'Tiger Mom,' this is a thoughtful and deeply researched look at the reality of modern-day parenthood: we love our kids, and they make us crazy, and it's all our fault. The book grew from Senior's eye-raising New York magazine piece, in which she explored the dark side of parenting --- the depression, the marital woes, the loss of self-worth. Sure, raising kids is, ultimately, deeply rewarding. But on a day-to-day basis? Sometimes a bummer. Parenthood has changed a lot since World War II, as more women entered the workforce, dads became more engaged in child rearing, and an 'asymmetrical' parent-child relationship evolved. We're doing more for our kids, but they're doing less for us. 'Children went from being our employees to our bosses,' Senior writes. If you want to be a better parent --- or, maybe more importantly, to feel better about the parent you've become --- you need this book. And, probably, a nap."