A leading social critic goes inside the billion-dollar baby business to expose the marketing and the myths, helping parents determine what's worth their money—and what's a waste
Parenting coaches, ergonomic strollers, music classes, sleep consultants, luxury diaper creams, a never-ending rotation of DVDs that will make a baby smarter, socially adept, and bilingual before age three. Time-strapped, anxious parents hoping to provide the best for their baby are the perfect mark for the "parenting" industry.
In Parenting, Inc., Pamela Paul investigates the whirligig of marketing hype, peer pressure, and easy consumerism that spins parents into purchasing overpriced products and raising overprotected, overstimulated, and over-provided-for children. Paul shows how the parenting industry has persuaded parents that they cannot trust their children's health, happiness, and success to themselves. She offers a behind-the-scenes look at the baby business so that any parent can decode the claims—and discover shockingly unuseful products and surprisingly effective services. And she interviews educators, psychologists, and parents to reveal why the best thing for a baby is to break the cycle of self-recrimination and indulgence that feeds into overspending.
Paul's book leads the way for every parent who wants to escape the spiral of fear, guilt, competition, and consumption that characterizes modern American parenthood.
Paul (Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families), mother of two, probes the business of parenting, exposing the high price of raising kids in our consumer-driven nation. Paul points out that it costs upwards of a million dollars to raise a child in the U.S. these days, especially if one buys into the theory that baby must have everything on the market. Following the money, Paul dissects the booming baby business, including "smart toys" that don't really make kids smarter, themed baby showers and parenting coaches and consultants. The text is a tireless rundown of parents' seemingly bottomless pocketbooks when it comes to bringing up baby, and according to Paul this is not just an upscale, cosmopolitan phenomenon throughout the country parents are reaching deep into their pockets to fuel this spiraling craze. Though Paul incorporates the pithy quotes of a number of experts, such as psychologist David Elkind's observation, "Computers are part of our environment, but so are microwaves and we don't put them in cribs," readers may find themselves wishing for more commentary and less litany. But Paul isn't preachy, although she does reveal that what babies really need is holding, singing, dancing, conversation and outdoor play.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great for parents of young children, and parents to be
Pamela Paul discusses goods and services aimed at American parents. Baby coaches, bugaboo strollers, Baby Einstein, etc. She typically provides a cultural history or corporate history of the item under discussion, opinions from academics who study relevant topics, and her own opinion, which is not always predictable. I liked it a lot, especially the Bugaboo chapter.