The goal of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children is to tell us that anxious parenting, hovering, is simply the wrong way to raise children. The best part of the book is the middle third, in which the author details the ingenious experiments that have made her famous, here experiments about how young children learn about the world. It turns out that young children are better than older ones (and adults) at figuring out unlikely scenarios. They can also distinguish remarkably well between experts and charlatans. Sadly, to get to that middle third we need to navigate a long, hectoring tirade against those who want to build the perfect child (the carpenters), extolling instead the virtues of the gardeners, who simply provide a loving environment and step back. And then there is the last third, with a curious rant against the way we treat older people. Agreed but what does this have to do with child development?
I heartily recommend the author’s other books instead of this one, in particularThe Scientist In The Crib.