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Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children Paperback – March 31, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“An entire industry preys on parental anxiety… Paul nicely dismantles the claim [and] tries to lead us out of the catastrophization of childhood.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Fascinating… Paul shows how companies selling everything from infant movement monitors to education DVDs have built a booming business convincing parents they cannot trust their children's safety or well-being to themselves.” ―Reuters
“[Parenting, Inc.] offers the reader a distilled version of the parenting products and services that are truly useful, as opposed to those that prey on our fears.” ―Cookie magazine
“Paul has cleverly identified this subset of our consumer culture run wild... Perform[s] a useful service, debunking the most absurd of the baby-marketers' claims.” ―New York Observer
“Sing it, sister Pamela! At last, a baby-book trend even a father can dig.” ―The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“An absorbing examination of the commercialization of parenting.” ―The Guardian (London)
“Through interviews... Paul helps consumers figure out for themselves just what items they need and which ones are a complete waste of money. Her book is part investigative journey, part resource manual.” ―The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)
“Paul... looks closely at the nonstop spending spree associated with parenting (designer shoes for newborns, anyone?) and offers a sobering critique of the combined industries she dubs 'Big Baby'.” ―Time Out New York Kids
“Paul's journey through the maze [of marketing] is frightening and, frankly, a bit embarrassing. Her conclusions champion restraint.” ―Courier-Journal (Louisville)
“A meticulously researched piece of cultural criticism… Parenting, Inc. just might reassure [parents].” ―St. Petersburg Times
“Before you plunk down forty bucks for a Christian Dior pacifier, think about Paul's warning about a consumer-driven culture that's raising over-protected, over-stimulated, and over-provided-for children.” ―CNBC Business Radio
“Paul… took a hard look at the ‘parenting industry' and found that not only are the companies creating and marketing these products actively play on parental fears, but we parents have readily bought into the hype.” ―The Greenville News
“Like Judith Warner's Perfect Madness, this sine qua non for new parents is highly recommended.” ―Library Journal
“Paul explains just how ludicrous today's infant product marketplace has become.” ―The Ottawa Citizen
“It's only natural to want the best for our kids; all parents do. But what does ‘the best' mean? Pamela Paul takes us on a hair-raising journey of the products, services, and ‘expert' guidance from which parents today feel compelled to choose and the time pressure, financial pressure, and self-doubt that turns them into nervous wrecks. Parents need the courage to be sensible again--they and their kids can use it. Buy this book and carry it with you whenever you walk into a baby store.” ―Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice
“You don't have a Crumb Chum chin-to-toe cover to put on your toddler at meal times? You haven't hired your ‘momcierge' to organize your child's home library? Or a specialist in thumb sucking, under-sleeping, nail biting, or giving up overnight diapers? Relax. In this riveting book, Paul very much empathizes with the anxieties of eager parents. At the same time, she gently helps us wonder whether we aren't, as a culture, going overboard--and deftly, brilliantly, helps us see the beauty in an alternative. She rings a bell we need to hear.” ―Arlie Hochschild, author of The Time Bind and The Managed Heart
“There has been a great deal written about the commercialization of childhood, but Parenting, Inc. makes it clear that the commercialization of parenting is equally extensive and even more troubling. This important book will help parents become aware of how much of their parenting is being forced upon them by an unrelenting sales pitch.” ―David Elkind, professor of child development, Tufts University, and author of The Hurried Child
Top Customer Reviews
This book tackles the question of how this happened. Why do parents think that they need an $800 stroller? Why do they think their kids should watch "Baby Einstein" videos? Does the baby really need $80 face cream? Bugaboo strollers are treated in particular detail, with their initial marketing plan and the response by consumers dissected in fascinating detail.
My favorite chapters talked about the companies that supply this stuff -- from entrepreneurs (especially moms) who had a good idea and are looking to turn it into a profit, to the most cynical and crass corporate marketing machines. Many of the products discussed in the book may harm children, but the companies that sell them spend millions of dollars convincing parents that their children will be somehow at risk without them.
Modern society has weakened the extended families and tight-knit communities that once played an important role in the raising of children. Many parents have no good source for advice about the baby that is about to arrive, or has just arrived. Corporations have gleefully filled the void, and neither the kids nor the parents benefit from this.
To be clear -- this book is even-handed, and where Paul sees value in a good or service, she gives detailed credit to the people responsible. Her discussions of the bad stuff are, for me anyway, more fun to read.
I loved the book. About the only thing I wanted more of was the discussion of "kids as fashion items," where toddlers are dressed in expensive clothes and paraded about by egocentric parents. I still do not understand why people do such things.
This book is interesting from a sociologic perspective. But it's also practical. I think that any new parent (or parent of a pregnant child) should read it to get a clearer vision on what children "must" have, and what children truly need.
The bottom line: children need more of what money can't buy. And if you spend less time going out to earn the money, maybe you'll be home more to give your kids what they need: you!
In countless ways parents seek the health, safety, comfort, happiness, and positive development of their children. According to Ms. Paul, this understandable impulse has lost all sense of proportion in America. She describes an explosion of baby stores and internet merchants that sell tens of thousands of products to new parents. Not just normal necessities. But extravagances like stroller speedometers, child-size toilet paper, infant perfumes, and baby monitoring systems that employ multiple infrared cameras and wireless technology. She also describes a growing designer aesthetic for baby gear: $55 pacifiers, $195 children's jeans, $900 high chairs, $700 crib mattresses, and a $1500 diaper bag.
For parents who want to give their children an academic head start, there are in-utero educational programs, infant flash cards, infant and toddler reading and foreign language instruction, music appreciation programs, and countless educational DVDs. Instead of the traditional play date or visit to the playground, parents can now enroll their children in junior country clubs, various infant and toddler classes, and countless other structured activities. And the average American child is drowning in toys. According to Ms. Paul, the U.S.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the only baby books that I read while pregnant. It really helped me look at the baby industry with a clear head. Read morePublished 5 months ago by LizzyBee
My child was born in 2009 - looking back this book still stands out to me. I read this in 2010 and I bought it that year. I still recommend it to new parents. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Cate
... One you will be able to quote at dinners to other flabbergasted parents and probably start some enjoyable debates as well.
The subtitle says it all really. Read more
I read Parenting Inc. because I am appalled by the consumerism surrounding baby products and services, and I thought that the book would support me in my "back to basics,... Read morePublished on August 20, 2011 by R. Stewart
This book is really good for any first time parent. It helps you decide what your baby actually needs and when things are getting out of hand. Read morePublished on March 20, 2011 by blondness1o1
The book is well written and well researched. My main problem with the book is I don't agree with many of her opinions. Read morePublished on June 8, 2010 by Katrina Siron
I love Pamela Paul's book - it is one of the few "parenting" type books that I have read multiple times. Read morePublished on January 7, 2010 by Budinello
As many have remarked, the author does an excellent job of pointing out the absurdities of our current child-centered age. Read morePublished on August 2, 2009 by Shannon Chamberlain