The Problem with Parenting: How Raising Children Is Changing across America by Nancy McDermott (Author). Buy here.

McDermott appreciates, in a far deeper way, the fundamental significance of raising children as a human project, rather than as a lifestyle issue for individuals in the here and now. 

Contemporary culture appears to be very child-focused, with every celebrity pregnancy, miscarriage, birth and baby shower catalogued, and a huge market for toys, children’s clothing and other paraphernalia. But as McDermott observes, society and the family are no longer ‘child-centred’. As she explains, the core values of the bourgeois family have dissolved and parental attention has been diverted away from a primary concern with socialising children towards an adult-centred, self-obsessed therapeutic ethos:

‘The families that emerged in the wake of the domestic upheavals of the 1970s not only looked different from families in the previous decades, with far more single-parent families and “blended families” (formed when divorced couples remarry), but also were animated by a different spirit. They were no longer primarily about raising the next generation, but focused instead on the aspirations of adults (based on the assumption that children would be better off if their parents were happier). But adult satisfaction and children’s needs are not always compatible, especially when the parents’ pursuit of happiness leads to uncertainty.’