In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel? Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter? Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie? What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language?NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring - because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, the authors' work is an insightful exploration of themes and issues that transcend children's (and adults') lives.More
Starting with the introduction, in a loving, but firm voice, journalist and author Po Bronson delivers the bad news to parents: everything you know about parenting is wrong.
Bronson and collaborator Ashley Merryman willingly indict themselves, along with all of American society, in that collective "you", as they confront again and again our abundant misconceptions about parenting and the nature of children, when exploring the newest research findings in the science of child development.
Bronson and Merryman do not debate the existence of a biological imperative to nurture. in fact, they wholeheartedly accept that all parents possess the innate instinct to "nurture and protect" their kids, and even report that current research supports the location of this impulse in the brain with physical evidence. instead, the book, and its title, are meant to invoke the shock most new parents experience when they open up their bundles of joy, eager to get started and realize the manual is missing.
As a guilty participant in many of the contemporary parenting practices referred to in the book, it was a pleasure to receive my verbal spanking in Bronson's nebbish and neighborly tone, rather than the authoritative and detached voice of yet another social scientist detailing the 10 new ways i'm failing as a mother. Perhaps because he himself admits to being "father knows less", rather than best, i was better able to withstand his slaughter of a wide range of our current parenting sacred cows, such as:
kids are positively powered by praise (then why do so many run out of self-esteem?)
too much TV makes children fat (actually, it's too-little sleep), but at least today's gentle programming is making them less aggressive (wrong, again!)
and my child is color-blind when it comes to race (blind maybe, but not deaf or dumb)
Bronson's steady and measured narration moves the serious subject matter along nicely and creates an atmosphere of inclusion and intimacy for the reader not easily achieved with nonfiction. We can share his sincere surprise, evident in his voice, when confronted with the many 360-degree reversals in thinking that the latest research demands.
i do wish Ms. Merryman had shared in the narration of the book, if only for a glimpse into her personal feelings on each topic. But it's easy to believe their assertion that they were moved to change their own parenting and teaching practices inspired by their findings. i've already made subtle changes in dealing with my seven-year old based on Chapter 4, "Why Kids Lie", with remarkable success. Lisa Duggan
"A provocative collection of essays popularizing recent research that challenges conventional wisdom about raising children...[Bronson and Merryman] ably explore a range of subjects of interest to parents... Their findings are often surprising." (Kirkus)
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I liked it and I don't even have kids.