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Paranoid Parenting: Why Ignoring the Experts May be Best for Your Child [Paperback]

Frank Furedi
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 Dec 2002 --  

Book Description

1 Dec 2002
Hardly a day goes by without parents being warned of a new danger to their children's well-being. High profile campaigns convince us that our childrens health, safety and development are constantly at risk. It is hardly surprising that parents become paranoid, afraid to let their children out of their sight. Even then, they are criticised by one childcare expert or another. It seems that parents can do nothing right. Parents do not know whom they can trust, but one thing is made clear to them - they cannot trust their own judgement. "Paranoid Parenting" investigates contemporary parental anxieties and suggests that these fears are themselves the most damaging influence upon children in modern society. Children are actually physically safer than they have ever been before and perhaps more in danger from the conflicting advice handed out to parents by different generations of "childcare experts". Frank Furedi explains why parents feel paranoid and looks at how they can deal with the insecurity which is fostered by experts and the media. He goes on to give examples and build a case for parents relying more on their own judgement and circumstances.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: A Cappella Books (1 Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524646
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 15 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 618,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


"In 201 pages he supports what I have suspected all along. There is no such thing as a child-raising expert." -- D.L. Stewart

"[A] provocative attack . . . this is not feel-good stuff. . . . A worthy wake-up call for those of us willing to hear it." -- Washington Post Book World

About the Author

Frank Furedi is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He is the author of numerous books including Culture of Fear Revisited, Where Have all the Intellectuals Gone? and Invitation to Terror, all published by Continuum. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Furedi is good when he is pulling apart some of the bad science that surrounds parenting and worryingly makes its way into government policy, particularly when he is looking at sociological trends.

However, in some chapters he seems to wander out of his depth. He is interesting when he talks about hysteria about spanking, but looses the argument when he talks about spanking in the context of a 'warm and responsive' relationship, as though this is honestly when most parents hit their children, rather than when they are at their wit's end. I would agree that there is a tendency to pathologize normal but inconvenient behaviour, however when Furedi starts to suggest that ADHD is the result of parents being reluctant to punish their children he starts to sound like an old lady in a supermarket.

"To a surprising degree, parents have also internalized the stricture to negotiate and to use reason instead of punishment". Really? When Furedi crosses the line into psychological advice, he appears to start making up his own bad science.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As a practising health visitor and former midwife I approached this book, subtitled 'Abandon Your Anxieties and be a Good Parent' with some trepidation, fearing it might be another 'how to do it' tomb for anxious parents by yet another 'expert'. This however is refreshingly different because it genuinely attempts to reassure parents that they, not professionals, gurus or politicians are the experts with respect to their children. They are instead encouraged to trusts their own judgement and instincts.
Though the publicity surrounding its publication has concentrated primarily on its importance for parents and (indirectly) children, I think this is also an absolute must for any health professional who gives advice to parents about parenting and childcare issues. This book addresses issues and dilemmas that also arise for us, and puts them into context e.g. cot death, smacking, child safety. It also provides more factual and unbiased information about these issues than do many advocates and campaigners. So long as we don't get defensive, we too can learn a lot from it.
One of the best bits for me is Chapter Three where the author explains that though parenting and family make an important contribution to a child's development, they do not determine its outcome. Other influences - social, cultural and environmental, also play an enormously important part. Ironically, despite the plethora of advice on parenting, little is actually known of its actual impact on children.
The psychologising of child rearing is also discussed. Advice is frequently based on unscientific and conflicting evidence. That this puts parents under so much emotional pressure to get it right, is described in detail. It helpfully situates how this has happened and how health professionals have contributed to it, consciously or otherwise.
This book should become essential reading, not just for parents but also for politicians, experts, gurus and professionals.
Bríd Hehir
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all new parents 29 Jan 2003
When my husband and I had our first child 7 months ago, we found ourselves under a barrage of advice from friends, family and "experts". Many well meaning friends constantly told us the latest "expert" study and why we should know about it. There is always the underlying idea behind all this advice that if you don't do what the "experts" say your child will be damaged for life.
I found this book so refreshing! In a rare exception to most parenting books, Furedi actually elevates the role of parents over professionals in shaping children! Other books may claim that parents know best, but they then follow it up with endless advice on how parents need to change. Other advice books always point back to the experts as really knowing what is best for a child, and that parents should defer to the latest research and expert advice. Furedi turns this around and shows why the best people to deal with children are parents. Parents are the ones who know children best, and can best meet their needs.
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This is a wonderful book which explains, in clear and well-written prose, how stupid parents are to be paranoid about paedophiles etc and how much damage that is doing to their children - in fact, what they are doing is child abuse.

The author is rather more tolerant than I would be. People who cannot assess risk properly should be told how wrong they are. However, looking at the psychologically damaged, semi-autistic, depressed, drug-addled, Ritalin-popping, obese generation of kids we are bringing up in the UK, I think everyone can see how wrong that is and how very damaging not only to children's health but to the whole of society.

Children are now safer than ever before - yet many are cooped up inside their whole childhood lives, in front of screens, becoming infantilised blobs of worry who never learn through experience, exposure and risk-taking how to grow up - and then we wonder why the UK has such high rates of depression in teenagers?

One of course has to mention our huge divorce and single mother family rates here. In countries with more solid family structure, for example in the Mediterranean, children are given much more freedom and are less obese and unhappy.

Sadly, our media will continue to stoke the flames of paedo-obsession, and parents (hysterical helicopter mums really) will continue to abuse their children by not allowing them to be children, because of ignorance and imagined fears. Sad sad sad.
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