- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (Sept. 23 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060011831
- ISBN-13: 978-0060011833
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,812,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children Hardcover – Sep 23 2003
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“I rather hope this book becomes the twenty-first century childcare bible.” (Fay Weldon, The Times (London))
About the Author
Robert Shaw, M.D.,was an internationally renowned child and family psychiatrist practicing in Mill Valley and Berkeley, California, and the director of the Family Institute of Berkeley. He specialized in child psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and taught at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he was chief of the Family and Children's Mental Health Services for the South Bronx. He then directed the Family and Children's Mental Health Services for the city of Berkeley. Dr. Shaw died in 2009 and is survived by his wife, Judith Bloom Shaw, four children, and five grandchildren.
Stephanie Wood is the executive editor of Parenting Early Years and Parenting School Years, where she oversees articles on child development, health, and education. She lives with her husband and three children in Blauvelt, New York.
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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.
Thank you Dr. Shaw!!!
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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