Book Review by W. Carroll

Book Review

The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

By William Carroll, Head of School, The Westfield School


The Collapse of Parenting is a compelling and fascinating study of the current state of American parenting.  Dr. Sax presents a series of persuasive observations and arguments based on high quality academic research peppered with personal anecdotes.  In many ways the book is a harsh indictment of current parenting and cultural trends.  However, the author also includes many specific and practical strategies that should be used by parents who are pushing against the mainstream trends.

A culture of disrespect and the nonstop presence of electronic devices put a serious strain on children and can stifle their ability to become responsible and independent adults.  Far too often, our youth culture celebrates and encourages disrespect toward others.  The author shows that the youth culture of disrespect is ubiquitous and grounded in a lack of connection between youth and adults.  Far too many children and adolescents look to their peers for connection and a sense of belonging, rather than their parents and other adults in their lives.  In addition, the constant presence electronic devices and the unhealthy scheduling of extra activities create enormous challenges for the modern parents.  The children need to develop self-control perhaps more than any other quality, and today’s parenting trends often fail to do so.

Parents need to appropriately exercise their parental authority in a variety of ways that often has to do with meals.  Making time for family meals has enormous benefits for children as does making family time a priority.  Training children to have self-control is perhaps the highest calling of parents, more important than high test scores, athletic skills, or artistic proficiency.

Overall, the book has a great combination of pointing out serious challenges in the world of modern parenting while also offering helpful alternatives to prevailing practices.  The overall layout of the assertions with the rationale creates a truly captivating read.  I often find non-fiction a bit dry and usually read it in 15-25 pages at a time.  I found myself reading this one in 40-75 page chunks because it is both fascinating and well written.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their parenting.  I also recommend the book for educators wanting a better understanding of the current deterioration of parenting in America.


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