They go by many names: helicopter parents, hovercrafts, PFHs
(Parents from Hell). The news media is filled with stories of
well-intentioned parents going to ridiculous extremes to remove all
obstacles from their child's path to greatness . . . or at least to
an ivy league school. From cradle to college, they remain
intimately enmeshed in their children's lives, stifling their
development and creating infantilized, spoiled, immature adults
unprepared to make the decisions necessary for the real world. Or
so the story goes.
Drawing on a wealth of eye-opening interviews with parents
across the country, Margaret K. Nelson cuts through the stereotypes
and hyperbole to examine the realities of what she terms "parenting
out of control." Situating this phenomenon within a broad
sociological context, she finds several striking explanations for
why today's prosperous and well-educated parents are unable to set
realistic boundaries when it comes to raising their children.
Analyzing the goals and aspirations parents have for their children
as well as the strategies they use to reach them, Nelson discovers
fundamental differences among American parenting styles that expose
class fault lines, both within the elite and between the elite and
the middle and working classes.
Nelson goes on to explore the new ways technology shapes modern
parenting. From baby monitors to cell phones (often referred to as
the world's longest umbilical cord), to social networking sites,
and even GPS devices, parents have more tools at their disposal
than ever before to communicate with, supervise, and even spy on
their children. These play important and often surprising roles in
the phenomenon of parenting out of control. Yet the technologies
parents choose, and those they refuse to use, often seem
counterintuitive. Nelson shows that these choices make sense when
viewed in the light of class expectations.
Today's parents are faced with unprecedented opportunities and
dangers for their children, and are evolving novel strategies to
adapt to these changes. Nelson's lucid and insightful work provides
an authoritative examination of what happens when these new
strategies go too far.
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