Friday, April 18, 2008

Review on Parenting, Inc.

A few weeks ago, I was chosen to review a new parenting book, Parenting Inc. by Pamela Paul. I was so excited! Having never reviewed anything, I felt a bit nervous, but knew that if I went with my heart, all would be fine.

After receiving the book, I eagerly jumped into reading it and devoted a good 45 minutes the first day to it. I SO wanted to love this book. I so, SO wanted to write a fabulous review and pump up a book for another Mom, who's trying to support her family and still be with her kids as much as she can. And while the book is filled with interesting bits of information, and facts of all types regarding parenting purchasing and the way our money is spent, I felt extremely disconnected from it.

Throughout the first 4 chapters or so, I began to wonder when I would get past the prologue of facts and into the grit... into the section where the author proves a point or makes a suggestion for change. But each and every chapter seemed very similar. And each chapter felt like I was being preached to. As though all of the expensive choices of parents from New York, Los Angeles and other cities were the true "norm." Or as though they were obviously wrong/right/universal/etc.

Personally? I have never met ANYone who has sent their child to a preschool for the crazy-high prices listed in the book. I have never seen a Bugaboo stroller, other than on a magazine or tv spot. Most parents I know do NOT spend thousands of dollars in kiddy classes for Chinese/German/Sign Language/violin/etc. In fact, the only classes I can think of would be the traditional piano and sports for school age children. I have never been to a fabulous children's party, unless you count a bowling party here and there. My children DO have simple home parties, and so do the majority of their peers.

Parts of the book are really interesting. Just the fact that people truly do spend that much on their children is amusing to me, if not entirely relatable. The idea that children are viewed as a status symbol of such different regard in other parts of this country is unusual to me, but the world is made up of vastly different people: who am I to judge what others do?

I commented to my husband that the book felt like a college textbook: obviously written by an intelligent person but without the personality of an enjoyable book to read on a Saturday afternoon. Since it was intended as a "what not to do" book, that may have been the deliberate direction, but it left me wondering what the point was (other than that all parents everywhere now spoil their children to all ends).

Anyone who reads my blog will know that it has taken every ounce of courage for me to type this post. If I don't like something, I follow the rule of thumb (for the most part) to just not write about it. If you can't say something nice... you know. And after reading Pamela's blog, she seems like someone that I personally agree with and would love to hang out with. But after agreeing to review Parenting Inc., I felt obligated and WILL hit the publish button... just know that it has taken me 3 days to actually do so...
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