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The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children Hardcover – Sep 11 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Trade Sales Dept; 1 edition (Sept. 11 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060011831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060011833
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,585,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Penny Thoughtful on Jan. 31 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'll begin with what I like about this book: The chapter called "The Truth and Consequences of Child Care" is a well done illustration of the rock and the hard place parents are driven to today in order to provide for their children while they are very young.
The rest of the book is a suave combination of good advice, observations that should be obvious to anyone, and Chicken Little. Shaw is right that parents who buy their children everything instead of spending time with them are probably going to raise jerks. My guess, though, is that any parent who cares enough to pick up a book about parenting is probably smart enough to figure this out already. Shaw is not right that we are all going to hell in a handbasket. Just look at the title of this book: Epidemic, rot, permissive, plague, joyless, selfish. He's just trying to make money from making people think the world is worse than it actually is.
The biggest problem I have with this book is that Shaw seems to think there is only one acceptable parenting style. No baby should be fed at night beyond six months of age? All two-and-a-half-year-olds should be completely potty trained? Forcing your baby to sleep in a crib when both you and the baby would rather sleep together is necessary? I've got news for Shaw: There's more than one way to raise a kid, and implying that a child is going to be a sociopath just because he's still nursing all night at 18 months (or isn't potty trained at 3, or has a parent who adds "okay?" to the end of sentences, or...) is ridiculous.
There is more than one way to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved child. I'm sure the methods Shaw suggests work for some folks, but all children are different and all parents are different and all families are different.
Take the good stuff away from this book, and take the rest of it with a can of salt. The sky is not falling.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 30 2003
Format: Hardcover
I still recall reading a translation of a Latin text from Rome (around 100AD) bemoaning the sorry state of youth and how kids just don't listen anymore.
Here is a hint: kids have never listened, and never will. At best (with enough threats) they just might be quiet about it.
Knowing that the author is clueless about the long history of behavior variations in children, I read the book anyway. Actually it is not bad. Yes it lacks context (for example the author bemoans youth violence in large cities even though is nothing compared to the 19th Century). However the author is essentially correct in that if you are not around to raise your kid and if you give them material things to make up for your lack of presence your kid will most likely be a twerp. He is also correct in that if your kid is over 15 right now probably smoking dope (that they buy from other kids in their church youth group). Just go look in his closet to see where they are hiding it.
Just don't freak out and decide kids have suddenly all become monsters, because in all likelihood you were a monster.
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By A Customer on May 19 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have read Dr. Shaw's wise, wonderful book and wish everyone I know with kids would read it. I have friends whose lives and households are absolutely dominated by their infants or toddlers - who can't eat, shower, wash dishes, have a quiet evening with their spouses or do anything normal because they are so obsessed with gratifying every want expressed by their small children. We need a return to common sense and Dr. Shaw is just reminding us that we have the power to make childrearing an enjoyable and rewarding experience for everyone involved. Let's stop raising brats!!!
Thank you Dr. Shaw!!!
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By A Customer on April 25 2004
Format: Hardcover
he says that Shaw thinks that there is only one acceptable parenting style but this is clearly not what he is saying:
page 50: There is no reason to believe that any adviser knows for sure about the best child rearing practices or has more common sense than you innately have yourself. I include in that statement the advice of pediatricians, psychologists, lactation consultants, nannies, early childhood educators, self-annointed or media appruved gurus, family and friends, and even what I say in this book
Shaw repeately suggests that you use common sense and test approaches with your child- although he has strong opinions about ineffective or conterproductive methods
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Format: Hardcover
Although the book opens with a discussion of tragedy of the school shooting at Columbine High School, the purpose of The Epidemic is not to pinpoint an immediate or public causes that causes youths like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to do what they did, but to highlight their cases as symptomatic - an extreme one, admittedly - of a broad problem of children who grow up oversaturated with stimuli, incapable of emotional development, and uncontrollable at school and at home. All of these, Shaw says, "are signs that our society has become toxic to children".
On this foundation, Shaw's goal is to give instructions for parents in preventing these problems before they arrive. This begins as early as infancy, where Shaw encourages the parent to begin a dialogue with the child (at this early stage, the "dialogue" being nonverbal expressions of affection, such as kisses on the baby's head). While the message for parents to be involved in the child's life seems to be self-evident, pressures for the parents in the workplace can threaten the development of this bond. Also, Shaw is very thorough in instructing parents on the *right* way to develop this bond, mixing anecdotal evidence from his practice with broad guidelines and checklists of symptoms to watch out for, so that the time and effort spent with the child won't be in vain.
By focusing on the internal family structure rather than the external factors that might threaten it, Shaw's book avoids criticizing many of the outside cultural factors surrounding the Columbine shooting that others have pointed to (whether correctly or not), and thereby makes the book accessible for parents of nearly every political persuasion who are looking for practical childrearing tips.
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