Cover image for Paranoid parenting : why ignoring the experts may be best for your child
Paranoid parenting : why ignoring the experts may be best for your child
Furedi, Frank, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Chicago Review Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
vi, 233 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Previously published in a substantially different form in the United Kingdom in 2001"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ755.8 .F87 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Hardly a day goes by without parents being warned of a new threat to their children's well-being. Everything is dangerous: the crib, the babysitter, the school, the supermarket, the park. High-profile campaigns convince parents that their children's health, safety, and development are constantly at risk. Parents are criticized by one child-care expert after another, but even the experts can't agree on matters as simple as whether or not it is wise to sleep next to a child. Parents don't know whom to trust; the only clear message is that they can't trust themselves. Fresh and accessible, Paranoid Parenting suggests that parental anxieties themselves are the worst influence on children. Based on new sociological research as well as dozens of interviews with parents and experts throughout the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, this groundbreaking book will bolster parents' confidence in their own judgments and enable them to bring up confident, imaginative, and capable children.

Author Notes

Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent He has written for many newspapers and magazines and appeared on dozens of TV shows

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Furedi, a father and sociology professor, laments the barrage of photographs of missing children, reports of child abuse, and warnings about child safety that have heightened parents' distress. From the moment a child is born, parents face anxieties about crib death, potentially abusive day-care centers and baby-sitters, and the proper food, toys, and amusements. Furedi cites studies indicating that overly paranoid parents have created such structured and supervised environments that their children fail to develop enough independence and ingenuity. Based on interviews and studies in the U.S. and Europe, he also cautions parents about the erosion of their authority and the politicization of parenting as professionals and the government become more involved in parent-child issues. Furedi then points to alarmist and contradictory advice offered by an array of professionals on everything from spanking to allowing babies to cry themselves to sleep. Aside from offering some sound advice, Furedi concedes there are no simple answers; however, this thoughtful book should help parents balance paranoia and appropriate concerns about child safety. Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

A sociologist at the University of Kent, author (The Culture of Fear), and father of a six-year-old, Furedi doesn't tout his Ph.D. on his book jacket, perhaps to distance himself from the "experts" he hopes to topple here. Furedi argues that parents are not just worried but downright paranoid, due, in part, to a glut of much-publicized expert advice. In a well-constructed diatribe, Furedi outlines how parents have become victims of scare tactics about everything from breast vs. bottle to whether to let their kids play outside. Furedi first takes readers through a series of topics, ranging from pedophiles to co-sleeping, only to debunk that very climate of fear and anxiety that he accuses others of fueling. Lashing out at such venerable experts as Penelope Leach, Benjamin Spock and others, Furedi notes that experts often disagree, contradict themselves and shift their advice in reaction to the moral and cultural attitudes of the time. Claiming that society has become "child-obsessed rather than child-centered" Furedi calls for a return to reliance on parents' own instincts, and for the re-establishment of adult trust and collaboration in caring for children. Though prone to occasional bouts of exaggeration, Furedi's text is unsettling and insightful, and contemporary parents are sure to recognize themselves in these pages. Parents weary of glancing over their shoulders every time they fill a baby's bottle or head for the park will find this a welcome departure. "Parents are no more ignorant than the experts," Furedi concludes. His overriding message parents know best is one many will be happy to heed. (Oct.) Forecast: The book's controversial and unorthodox approach should get attention and with it, sales. Its suggestive cover may catch the eye of many bookstore browsers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In a time of child-snatching, Megan's Law, and "Amber alerts," Furedi (sociology, Univ. of Kent, UK) bravely critiques contemporary standards of child rearing. He asserts that self-described "experts" and the media have disenfranchised parents with pseudoscientific principles and contradictory advice. By exposing those myths and paradoxes, Furedi seeks to reempower parents with his global perspective, which reiterates the theories in many books and articles (e.g., the author's own Culture of Fear: Risk-Taking and the Morality of Low Expectations). His discussion relies on published research and statistics, interviews with parents, personal anecdotes, and a review of the most popular child-care manuals, ranging from those by Dr. Spock to Penelope Leach. This book is provocative, well argued, and clearly written, though the rhetoric can be stinging. Recommended for large public libraries and professional parenting collections, where it would complement similarly thoughtful and countercultural works like Bruno Bettelheim's A Good Enough Parent.-Antoinette Brinkman, MLS, Evansville, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. v
Introductionp. 1
1 Making Sense of Parental Paranoiap. 21
2 The Myth of the Vulnerable Childp. 44
3 Parents as Godsp. 58
4 Parenting on Demand A New Concept in Child Rearingp. 75
5 Parenting Turned into an Ordealp. 93
6 Why Parents Confuse Their Problems with Those of Their Childrenp. 104
7 Confusions About Facing Up to Adulthoodp. 125
8 The Problem of Holding the Linep. 132
9 Unclear Rules Prejudice Masquerading as Researchp. 151
10 Professional Power and the Erosion of Parental Authorityp. 175
11 The Politicization of Parentingp. 190
Conclusionp. 197
Notesp. 202
Bibliographyp. 217
Indexp. 227