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Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times Hardcover – May 24, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“Nelson tries to trace what’s behind the [parenting out of control] phenomenon, looking at it from a sociological view, not a psychological one. She points at a confluence of socioeconomic factors including a reaction to sex and violence in the media, perceived danger from crime, and the feeling that today’s children must work harder to prepare for going out on their own.”
-Gordon Dritschilo,Rutland Herald

“Placing this phenomenon [hovercraft parenting] within a sociological context, Nelson explores the effects of this approach on both the children and the parents and why it is so persistently practiced by the professional middle class. Sociologists and academics will find much to glean here. The appendixes, outlining the technological choices of various populations, are both insightful and alarming.”-Library Journal, Academic Newswire

“Nelson goes beyond simplistic criticisms of ‘helicopter parents’ to illuminate the complex motivations, personal histories, and practical dilemmas that affect the parenting choices of educated professionals in our changing world. Using rich interview data, she shows that their new parenting styles reflect and in turn exacerbate the growing social isolation of these mothers and fathers and even put their marriages at risk. Persuasively argued and highly readable.”-Stephanie Coontz,author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

The perfect antidote to all those hyperbolic articles about overbearing, overprotective moms who hover, helicopter, and micromanage, grounded as it is in actual social-science research, nuanced analysis, and an eagerness to look beyond cliches... The result is a fascinating and sometimes surprising portrait of modern parenting.” -Bitch Magazine

“In Parenting Out of Control, sociologist Margaret K. Nelson bemoans the social isolation of today’s families and describes the disservice overanxious parents ultimately do. . . . While parents insist they want their offspring to be free thinkers, their tactics result in young adults still tethered to the home.”

-Fit Pregnancy

"Right from the first pages, and on through the book as a whole, she offers a highly engaging analysis that elegantly situates rich and intriguing examples in a broader social context, allowing us to understand those examples in new ways. The work is lively, carefully argued, and compelling in its qualititative data analysis as well as its links to multiple scholarly literatures."
-Emily W. Kane,American Journal of Sociology

About the Author

Margaret K. Nelson is Hepburn Professor of Sociology at Middlebury College and is the author of many books, including The Social Economy of Single Mothers: Raising Children in Rural America, and co-editor, with Anita I. Garey, of Who’s Watching? Daily Practices of Surveillance Among Contemporary Families.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (May 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814758533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814758533
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By W. E. Wargo on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Have mothers and fathers become Big Brothers?

Would you read your child's diary? Do you use a keystroke monitoring system to keep track of your child's computer use? Do you test your child for drugs? Based on the answers to these and other penetrating questions, Margaret Nelson explores the attitudes of today's anxious parents toward new technologies of "connection, constraint, and surveillance." The results of her research are fascinating--and scary. Not only does Nelson paint a picture of parenting out of control, she also presents an unsettling portrait of a fearful, class-divided society. If you want to keep track of where parents are at today--and where they may be headed--this is an excellent book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By FurryMonster on June 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In "Parenting Out of Control," Margaret Nelson examines extreme parenting from a sociological perspective. She compels us to consider the origins of different parenting styles, how they are shaped by class distinctions, and how they reinforce social inequalities.

Nelson paints vivid portraits of professional middle class parents who are afraid their children will not be able to secure a competitive place in the world. She contrasts these with working class parents, who fear their children will be harmed by the violence and temptation of crime. Nelson then reveals how initially confounding parental behavior is now explicable in light of these class fears and expectations.

This is a provocative book that I'm looking forward to sharing.
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