All Joy and No Fun
By Jennifer Senior
Published by Harper Collins Ecco
Review copy provided by the publisher
Review by Ginger Mayerson
Modern parenting – duty or privilege? Or something else?
Full disclosure: I chose not to have kids.
I don’t have anything against kids or families, mostly I salute them for their bravery and grit when I’m not feeling sorry for them because they seem so stressed out and miserable most of the time. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s noticed this and wondered about it, but I didn’t write a whole book about it. Jennifer Senior’s book, “All Joy and No Fun,” is an entertaining read with the facts and research seamlessly and painlessly integrated into the illuminating anecdotes. It focuses mainly on the middle class family, divorced moms, and one grandmother raising kids in the 21st Century. These people worked hard to have these kids, work hard to raise them, and worry like crazy about the future of these kids. They worry in kindergarten about what kind of job the kid can get in the future job market when the kid graduates from college in fifteen years. They worry that the kid won’t be aggressive/assertive enough of a team player, so they have ‘em in sports from soon after the kids starts staggering around on their little feet. In one family, the kid wanted to do sports, music, and a few other things outside of school. It seemed like it would be almost worth it for the mom to get a job just to hire a driver. And, yes, the parents know they’re exhausted, but raising a child is such an important thing that they’re working very hard at, so of course they’re exhausted because it’s a helluva lot of work because it needs to be a helluva lot of work in this tough future world that no one knows what it will be like yet, except that it will tough, maybe tougher than now. And, holy mackerel, it’s a tough world now so it’s more work to shield and prepare their children for it. It’s such a tough, exhausting, dangerous, economically dire, stressed, vicious, cold, insert-your-own-alarming-adjective-here world these wan and pale middle class people are preparing their children for, does it ever occur to the parents in this book to get out of the Suzuki violin class and make the world a better place so they can relax a little about their child’s future? I mean, it’s too late to consider what kind of a world you wanted to bring a kid into, but it’s never too late to do something to make it a better world you brought your kid into. But, oh well, that’s not what the book is about. This book is about how children affect parents, and it seems kids wear their parents out because parents are pouring their lives, souls, marriages, and happiness into raising their kids. And this supreme sacrifice is freaking exhausting! Continue reading