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Book Reviews and Other Media
May 2003

Child Rearing in America: Challenges Facing Parents With Young Children

Author Affiliations
 

ABRAHAMBERGMANMD

 

edited by Neal Halfon, Kathryn Taaffe McLearn, and Mark A. Schuster,448 pp, $24, ISBN 0-521-01264-3, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(5):493-494. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.5.493-a

Via a combination of cohesively analyzed original data (from the Commonwealth Survey of Parents with Young Children) and review of current research, the authors provide an insightful and well-written account of social, psychological, economic, and societal variables affecting parent-child relationships and outcomes. The book is divided into 4 parts. The first section, "Conditions of Families With Young Children," covers resources devoted to child rearing by families and society and the challenges of large family size, low income, and, above all, the disproportionately small allocation of governmental resources to young children. A chapter called "Preparing for Parenthood: Who's Ready, Who's Not?" addresses the impact of pregnancy intention on child and family outcomes. The effects of childbirth and parent training classes enjoy particular attention (mixed but generally favorable results), as does the influence of social support networks (generally positive, although kinship networks do not always prompt positive parenting practices, eg, breastfeeding, reading to children, and nonpunitive disciplinary style). Parents' psychological resources are also addressed: confidence in their child-rearing ability decreases, surprisingly, with education, and emotional distress, often due to parents' own abuse histories, almost invariably results in less desirable parenting practices.

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