First of all, despite the sudden rash of parenting books that I’ve been reviewing, I am not pregnant. A good portion of my friends and family are pregnant though, so its no wonder I’ve steered myself into this reading genre.
Parenting Inc. is written in the same vein as Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day. In Parenting Inc. Pamela Paul focuses on the various ways that parenting has evolved into a consumer market, how the media and major corporations blurs the line between the necessary and useless baby toys, skills and other products. The book is divided into 7 chapters, each focusing on a different element of the financial strains, pains and gains of parenting. For the most part, I found the book to be insightful but repetitive. Full of information but long-winded, and at times full of extreme examples that seem to only be found in New York. Often, Paul would make a statement, then repeat that statement with five different examples all highlighting the same point. The book also felt incredibly one-sided. I was looking for tips on how to avoid the consumerist parenting arena. The whole book was “this is how you’re being tricked” but nothing on what to do otherwise.
Paul is a parent, and much of the research for the book came from her research into what products to register for and purchase for her children. I think she did an admirable job of focusing on how the American public is easily swayed by advertisements and muddled information. I thought she made some valid points that parenting now is not what it was fifty years ago. Fifty or sixty years ago, families where much larger, and adults who had their first child had already helped care for and raise their siblings. For people in my age group, the first child is often the only child that person has ever held or been near. With all this newness, parents freak out about not doing the right thing or providing all the appropriate learning tools for their children. Paul’s main point throughout the entire book. Parents spend money because they are afraid not to spend the money to ensure their child’s success and accomplishments. New parents are full of insecurities and not having prior experience with children before their firstborn leads them to make impulse purchases and fall into marketing traps.