So you want to prep yourself for Thanksgiving table discussions of the Overparenting Crisis, but, what with the baby yoga and Mandarin playgroups, you don't have time? No problem. Joan Acocella has summed it all up for you in this week's New Yorker magazine. She compiles the shocking findings from both books by leading academics and NY Times trend pieces.
Brain plasticity and the 0-3yo overstimulation industry? "A scandal." Baby Einstein and the infant video market? "A scam." "You should hear Honoré on the subject of today's high-end birthday parties." Too much self-esteem? "Every doodle ends up on the fridge door."
Nine percent of DC students getting time limits waived on their SATs? Their higher scores were "sent out to colleges, with no notice of the dispensation." Overparents tracking kids with GPS-enabled cell phones and buying second homes in their kid's college town? The inevitable result of parents who aren't satisfied with the "foremost technological adjunct of overparenting." Ivy League application consultation? "forty thousand dollars," italics in the original. And on and on.
Until the last paragraph, where she literally dismisses the entire Overparenting trend as just another example of a much larger trend. "For the past three decades, Mintz writes, discussions of child-rearing in the United States have been dominated by a 'discourse of crisis,' and yet America's youth are now, on average, 'bigger, richer, better educated, and healthier than at any other time in history.'"
Which is fine, if your goal is population-level research. But most parents who read the New Yorker--or who buy overparenting books--are not seeking to raise average kids.