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Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes Hardcover – November 4, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As if women didn't have enough to worry about trying to decide on the correct balance between careers and motherhood, and then worrying about their decisions, Eberstadt maintains that working mothers are responsible for rising juvenile delinquency, underperformance in school, childhood obesity, and a host of other maladies. To her credit, she doesn't let fathers off the hook, but mothers are seen as the main culprits. Citing research detailing the adverse impact on children of absent parents, Eberstadt makes a passionate, convincing argument that Americans have focused too much attention on the needs of adults. Nearly half of all children have no fathers in the home, and more than half under the age of six have working mothers, leaving young children to fend for themselves in day care, where they are exposed to all manner of illnesses and bad behavior. The results are children who act out in various ways and a society that drugs them or ignores them. She offers no "snappy solutions" but strongly urges parents to spend more time with their children. Vanessa Bush
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...Eberstadt does not apologize... -- Edward Wyatt, New York Times

...[u]rges all adults to think about the needs of children, and some to make drastic changes... -- World Magazine

Home-Alone America is a fine first salvo in what may be a changed war. -- Kelly Jane Torrance, Washington Times

A book that should be read by every concerned parent, pastor, and policy maker. -- R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

An intense meditation on what matters most... -- Maggie Gallagher, syndicated columnist

Goes way beyond the headlines to show the effects of absent parents on nearly every area of children's lives. -- Susie Currie, Weekly Standard

Mary Eberstadt has written an unwelcome book. That doesn't make it any less important or less necessary. -- Rich Lowry, syndicated columnist

Mary Eberstadt has written an unwelcome book. That doesn't make it any less important or less necessary. -- Rich Lowry, syndicated columnist

The great and unarguable theme...is that families are a very good thing and parental care is of decisive importance... -- James Q. Wilson, Wall Street Journal

[An] important, thought-provoking book. -- Myrna Blyth, National Review

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sentinel HC; First Edition edition (November 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595230041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595230041
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,008,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Eberstadt is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She has written widely for magazines and newspapers, among them First Things, Policy Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal, and Commentary.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Eberstadt actually focuses on parents (that's plural) both Moms and Dads, deadbeat Dads, as well as divorced parents who use toys and junkfood for short-term rewards or to compensate for the face to face time that they can't have with their children.

She talks about busy parents who use junk food, videos, video games, locked houses, and perscription drugs as substitutes for their attention.

She talks about the dangers that she sees with the early socialization of children before they're really ready. (i.e., putting kids in Daycare before the age of 3).

She talks about the dangers of kids who come home from school and are alone until parents return from work.

She also devotes considerable time to the rise in childhood obesity and how the above factors contribute to that.

This is certainly not a mere "Blame the mom" screed as some might call it. THere is a nuanced and deep look at parenting in these busy times.
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Format: Hardcover
There is a lot of noise in our society about our troubled young. And that is well because it is true. There are also an almost infinite number of suggestions on how to "manage" these problems: counseling, more counseling, medication, raising daycare standards, yet more counseling and more medication, and on and on it goes.

This powerful book asks a somewhat different question. What if the problem isn't the kids? What if their reactions are reasonable responses to a toxic environment of outsourced childrearing (to daycare and medication), of absent fathers, of transient relationships in their relationship role models, and in consistently bad advice given them on sex, careers, and marriage?

She points out the current themes in popular music are abandonment, hurt from missing parents, rage against parental neglect, and the need for oblivion to escape the pain of loneliness. It isn't rebelling against mom and pop anymore. It is more like where are mom and dad and why don't they care about me. This is sad and painful on all fronts.

Mary Eberstadt is clear and honest in her facts and analysis. She admits there is neither simple panacea nor even a complex solution. She advocates beginning with a new consensus that it would be better for both children and adults if more American parents were with their kids more of the time. I know that sounds simplistic, but it is not simple. Given the financial burdens most families have taken on, it is very hard to make something like this happen. However, if we decide we believe we need our kids and they need us and that time together is important, we can make adjustments in our lives to make that happen.

I hope this book is widely read and widely discussed in thoughtful ways rather than just the normal political yelling at the other side. The topic affects us all. We all have an important stake in this and we all shoulder some of the blame. So, let's get at it.
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Format: Hardcover
Many of Eberstadt's points are very astute and worth considering, and for that, I give her three stars. For instance, the amount of medication our children are taking to make them "normal." The rise of aggression in our youngest children. The rise in childhood obsesity, because we no longer live in a world where children play, outside of highly structured, controlled events.

I don't disagree with anything descriptive she says about these issues. (And in fact, her chapter on GenX and Hip Hop music is quite well done.) But she blames this on a current culture where women (and men) leave their children in daycare, too focused on their own careers to care about them.

And given her personal experience, there is much that probably bears this out. She lives in Washington DC, in a very nice, very expensive neighborhood. The mood around her is definitely a liberal, career driven one.

However, I live in a red town, in a red county, in a red state. I live in a neighborhood of stay at home mothers, and fathers who are able to attend games and volunteer for boy scouting events. And what do I see? Children who are aggressive. Children who are obese. Children who are on medication. Most children do not play outside on our cul-de-sac because it "isn't safe." (I honestly have no idea what that means -- it is far safer from anywhere else I've ever lived.)

So even the right knows there is a problem with parenting. They blame the left, perhaps because they live in a left-wing world themselves. But for those of us who are NOT living in left-wing cultural milieus, those explanations fall flat.

But the parenting problem remains in the US today. One of the few things the left and the right agree on.
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Format: Hardcover
The author explores a number of issues arising from children not being raised by their parents. Over the last couple decades more and more children no longer have a parent to greet them at the door when school is over. This is largely driven by the mother going into the workforce, and to some extent by the huge increase in divorce. Children are now being raised by daycare centers, by the schools, and sometimes they are raising themselves. The author covers in detail many of the problems that have resulted from these changes.

There is no easy way to summarize all the types of problems explored in the book. I'll just mention of few of them. The author shows how many daycare centers are germ factories, for children are much more likely to catch a disease in a daycare center. The less time a parent spends with a young child, the more likely the young child will become violent. There has been a huge increase in the percentage of children who are fat and truly obese. Historically parents controlled how much children got to eat, but now often children get to decide. There are a lot more mental health problems now, versus a couple decades ago. Teachers and daycare centers are turning to drugs to medicate children for what had been considered normal juvenile behavior. Many of these drugs haven't been fully tested. It was fascinating to read about how much of the popular teenage music now is a cry for parents to be parents. Five of the top ten most frequently reported diseases in 1995 were STDs. Most children having sex are having sex in an unsupervised home. This is just a small sample of the dozens of problems children in America are now facing.

If you have children, this is a good book to read. It will help you understand the true costs and potential dangers your children may be exposed to if you try to outsource the raising of your children.
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