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Paranoid Parenting


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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Making Sense of Parental Paranoia; 2. The Myth of the Vulnerable Child; 3. Parents as Gods; 4. Parenting on Demand: a New Concept in Child Rearing; 5. Parenting Turned into an Ordeal; 6. The Problem of Holding the Line; 7. Unclear Rules; 8. Professional Power and the Erosion of Parental Authority 9. The Politicisation of Parenting.

About the Author

Frank Furedi is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He is the author of numerous books including Culture of Fear Revisited, Where Have all the Intellectuals Gone? and Invitation to Terror, all published by Continuum.


In a time of child-snatching, Megan's Law, and "Amber alerts," Furedi (sociology, Univ. of Kent, UK) bravely critiques contemporary standards of child rearing. He asserts that self-described "experts" and the media have disenfranchised parents with pseudoscientific principles and contradictory advice. By exposing those myths and paradoxes, Furedi seeks to reempower parents with his global perspective, which reiterates the theories in many books and articles (e.g., the author's own Culture of Fear: Risk-Taking and the Morality of Low Expectations). His discussion relies on published research and statistics, interviews with parents, personal anecdotes, and a review of the most popular child-care manuals, ranging from those by Dr. Spock to Penelope Leach. This book is provocative, well argued, and clearly written, though the rhetoric can be stinging. Recommended for large public libraries and professional parenting collections, where it would complement similarly thoughtful and countercultural works like Bruno Bettelheim's A Good Enough Parent.-Antoinette Brinkman, MLS, Evansville, IN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

A sociologist at the University of Kent, author (The Culture of Fear), and father of a six-year-old, Furedi doesn't tout his Ph.D. on his book jacket, perhaps to distance himself from the "experts" he hopes to topple here. Furedi argues that parents are not just worried but downright paranoid, due, in part, to a glut of much-publicized expert advice. In a well-constructed diatribe, Furedi outlines how parents have become victims of scare tactics about everything from breast vs. bottle to whether to let their kids play outside. Furedi first takes readers through a series of topics, ranging from pedophiles to co-sleeping, only to debunk that very climate of fear and anxiety that he accuses others of fueling. Lashing out at such venerable experts as Penelope Leach, Benjamin Spock and others, Furedi notes that experts often disagree, contradict themselves and shift their advice in reaction to the moral and cultural attitudes of the time. Claiming that society has become "child-obsessed rather than child-centered" Furedi calls for a return to reliance on parents' own instincts, and for the re-establishment of adult trust and collaboration in caring for children. Though prone to occasional bouts of exaggeration, Furedi's text is unsettling and insightful, and contemporary parents are sure to recognize themselves in these pages. Parents weary of glancing over their shoulders every time they fill a baby's bottle or head for the park will find this a welcome departure. "Parents are no more ignorant than the experts," Furedi concludes. His overriding message parents know best is one many will be happy to heed. (Oct.) Forecast: The book's controversial and unorthodox approach should get attention and with it, sales. Its suggestive cover may catch the eye of many bookstore browsers. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Title mention in an article written by the author in the Daily Express, October 2008
Title mention in The Daily Telegraph, October 2009
Mention in Sunday Express, 20th June 2010

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