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Liberation's Children: Parents and Kids in a Postmodern Age Paperback – June 30, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Most education criticism focuses on poor children's schooling and assumes that more money would make it better. Hymowitz's literate articles on the education of upper-middle-class children, from day care to university, argue that money buys a different, not necessarily a better, education. She shows high-achieving parents cramming their tots for entrance exams at elite day-care centers and kindergartens, and in general attending to cognitive rather than social development. The tykes they deposit in elementary schools lack manners, fellow feeling, and due respect for authority, and since court rulings exalting students' individual rights have derailed school discipline, the kids are successively worse in middle and high schools. Hymowitz doesn't blame the schools per se, however, as much as she scores such encompassing phenomena as sexual liberation, postmodern nonjudgmentalism, and what she catchily dubs ecstatic capitalism, in which the workplace becomes the arena of all meaningful achievement and validation. This is a collection rather than one long essay, and among its rewarding side trips from the main thrust are penetrating dissections of Sesame Street and contemporary feminism. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


This book is both engaging and brutal as social observation... (Paula S. Fass The Review of Higher Education)

An informed, intelligent and very powerful critique...Written with wit, with pointed examples and with passion. A very important book. (Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D.)

Adults...should take note of Hymowitz's observations about what 'liberation' has wrought. (William J. Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, author of The Book of Virtues)

Rewarding...penetrating. (Booklist)

One of America's best analysts of child-rearing...fascinating.... Hymowitz is on to some very important truths...a masterpiece. (National Review)

Scrupulously points out the all-too-familiar obsession with individual autonomy. (The Weekly Standard)

Hymowitz raises difficult questions that should not be ignored, and she presents them with a befitting urgency.... Thought-provoking... (Foreword Reviews)

Offers an original and coherent reading of contemporary bewilderment about what our children need.... (Times Literary Supplement)

A very different set of insights which parents will appreciate. (Bookwatch)

Sharply drawn analyses... (Adolescence Magazine)

A devastating debunking of fashionable ideas that have brought much frustration and heartache to parents and children alike...It is impossible to summarize the many insights of 'Liberation's Children'. Get a copy of each and discover their sobering message yourself. (Thomas Sowell, Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University Capitalism Magazine)

Liberation's Children is a collection of essays that deserves to be knit together into the fabric of a book. (Mark Daims Human Nature Review)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (June 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566635985
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566635981
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,097,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen Armstrong on January 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hymowitz's collection of essays has not received the attention that it deserves. This is too bad, because it is a powerful scolding the the laissez-faire, "modern," "child-centered," "feminist you-can-have-it-all," day-care and sex-education society that has little moral wisdom to pass to its children. Her observations on how "experts" have caved into what she calls the "Americal Pastorale Child" motif are apt, and acidic. Her fundamental axiom is this: that all (good) child development depends on a transmitted morality based on self-denial and self-discipline. The only way to achieve these is not to depend on the "inherent" capacity of children to develop these, but, instead, on powerful, care-giving, available adult(s) who decline to take shortcuts, and who take moral stands in their lives.
I loved a number of sections of this book. Hymowitz dissects Sesame Street elegantly as a public TV enterprise that teaches kids to watch TV, not learn literacy. She points out that it is a paradox to teach children and adolescents to be free and also to have self-restraint. She takes exception to the "expert" view that children and adolescents "naturally" develop empathy: "And why are well-nurtured teenagers so lacking this natural feeling when it comes to the suffering that their flagrant rudeness causes their parents?" (p. 61).
Great book, a little hard to read casually, but her message is not a casual one. After you finish it, however, you may wonder, "Well, what do I do now?"
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Format: Paperback
Subtitled Parents and Kids in a Postmodern Age, this book features a number of incisive essays on the perils and pitfalls of parenting in today's world. American author Kay Hymowitz is painfully aware that raising children today is a difficult task at the best of times. Children today are exposed to all sorts of pressures and temptations that many of us never had to worry about.

Much of the current wisdom as to how children should develop and how moms and dads should parent is simply wrong advice, argues Hymowitz. Today's children may be richer, better educated and healthier than any other generation, but many are emotionally, morally and spiritually deprived. We have pampered our children, spoiled our children, and immersed them in all the toys, gadgets and fashion they can stand, but most are still ill-equipped to face adulthood.

The proper moral and intellectual training of our children is giving way to trendy socialisation and the impoverishing effects of popular culture. These chapters highlight some of these disturbing trends, and demonstrate how our children are suffering as a result.

The opening chapter takes head on the day care establishment, and the myths surrounding it. Hymowitz documents how the feminist script is harming our children. Get a career, moms are told, and let the day care centres look after the kids. It will be good for them. But the research points in the opposite direction. The younger kids are, and the more time they spend in day care, the worse they fare. But a feminist-dominated media and a child-unfriendly culture seeks to cover up these truths, and make women feel guilty, not for abandoning their children, but for letting their maternal instincts tell them otherwise.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains a collection of eleven essays written by Kay Hymowitz and which originally appeared in CITY JOURNAL between 1995 and 2002. The subtitle captures the essence of the common subject matter thread which provides the link between them, they are about the relationship of PARENTS AND KIDS IN A POSTMODERN AGE. The essays in the book are arranged to form a sequential analysis of her topic following the age of children from their early experiences in day-care through graduation from college (essay number nine is titled J. CREW U.) and subsequently into a career; they conclude with an examination of the frequent rejection of the goals of radical feminism by many young women today. However, the dates of original publication indicate a much less direct progression of the author's thought process and commentary, they appear to be a combination of responses to her own experiences and research, reactions to the topic du jour and pieces specifically complementing other commentary from the Manhattan Institute (the publishers of City Journal)
My experience is that pieces in collections of this nature are often uneven in quality, but these are uniformly very articulate and well reasoned commentaries by an extremely thoughtful author with a very definite point of view. That point of view can be summarized as a belief that our culture has largely lost its moral moorings, and that we have no intellectual and spiritual base of agreed upon beliefs with which to educate our children.
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By A Customer on September 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What has always bothered me at a low level is explained here with incisiveness and an uncommon sense. I told my husband who is a pediatrician that he needs to make this a required reading for every parent that walks in his door.
The book is a collection of essays, each covering a particular age, from daycare to preschool to tweens and so on. Each essay discusses the the pernicious effect of such venerable institutions as Sesame Street (sugar-coated fast pace pushing of empty movie and TV icons) on our children. In every essys, her analysis is so completely on the mark.
We are being manipulated and as parents we are not fighting. We buy tank tops for our tweens, high-cut bikini underwear and all sort of nonsense with out a whimper. We allow our baby girls to dress like Vegas show girls and are brainwahsed into thinking that it means nothing and has no effect on our girls' psyche. On all fronts, schools, media, clothing, everyone has dropped their standards.
No matter what age your child, I highly recommend this book. I am buying a bunch to give to my friends.
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