The author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood does a great job of capturing the contrast between the drudgery of raising children (childcare seems to rank lower than even housecleaning as a non-enjoyable activity) and the great joy of having children and seeing them grow into independent adults. But I found the book to be rather weak otherwise. For one thing, the author seems to have chosen parents for the many vignettes throughout the book who are quite extreme. There is a mother of three (including a toddler) who somehow thinks she is going to raise them full-time while running a business from her home. Who could possibly achieve this feat? There is another who, although exhausted, will not, absolutely not, allow her children to cry during the night without getting up, against the opinion of her husband. And that brings up my other beef: why are the fathers portrayed in the book so calm and efficient (and involved!) and the mothers such airheads? Surely there are a few mothers out there who are smart enough to hire a babysitter, who expect their children to sleep through the night, and yet are having no fun trying to survive it all.
And where are the practical recommendations at a societal level? Where are the public nursery schools? The arrangements for emergency childcare for sick kids? The schools that don’t shut down at 3pm? It may be true that parents should be less protective of their children but we can’t really abandon them entirely!