All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

by Jennifer Senior


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Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. In All Joy and No Fun, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior now asks: what are the effects of children on their parents?

In All Joy and No Fun, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior tries to tackle this question, isolating and analyzing the many ways in which children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear.

Recruiting from a wide variety of sources—in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology—she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. The result is an unforgettable series of family portraits, starting with parents of young children and progressing to parents of teens. Through lively and accessible storytelling, Senior follows these mothers and fathers as they wrestle with some of parenthood's deepest vexations—and luxuriate in some of its finest rewards.

Meticulously researched yet imbued with emotional intelligence, All Joy and No Fun makes us reconsider some of our culture's most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives. By focusing on parenthood, rather than parenting, the book is original and essential reading for mothers and fathers of today—and tomorrow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062072221
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York magazine. She lives in New York with her family.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Autonomy 15

2 Marriage 45

3 Simple Gifts 95

4 Concerted Cultivation 117

5 Adolescence 183

6 Joy 237

Acknowledgments 267

Notes 273

Index 301

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All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard about this book on the radio. It very much in line with my parenting experience. I wish it was written 11 years ago. I would say it is a must read for anyone thinking about being a parent and has a choice not to.
Oma2 More than 1 year ago
The great thing about this book is that it's not about how to raise your kids but rather how to survive raising them. Parenthood is so tough. Those of us who have survived it know that the days are long but the years are so short. But when you're struggling through those exhausting toddler to teen years, it can be hard to remember the part of your life that is YOU. This is a great help in just knowing you will survive it. This is a tough world in which to raise balanced, happy children. This book helps.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be the perfect balance of research and anecdotal information. I could find so many things in every chapter that related to my own experience as a parent. I felt validated as I read about the trials we all experience as parents and cried my way through the parts about the true joy parenting brings. I think every parent should read this book and I have told every parent I know about it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard the author on NPR and was moved to purchase this book. I have been recommending it to every parent or soon-to-be parent I know because it is such a wonderful examination of parenthood.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
I was immediately drawn to the title of the book considering I generally think this way. Parenting is so much joy - but not always so much fun. Still, it isn't NO fun. My favorite thing about this book was the science. I loved all the research into child psychology and appreciated the anecdotal stories of mothers and fathers who exemplified the research. Still, there was just something always missing from every chapter. It felt a little too much science, story, and very little connection. Wish the arguments would have been flushed out a tad more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand three times post this on three diffrent books then look under your pillow.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
This book was so interesting. I loved sociology in college. In this book Senior discussing modern parenting. She doesn't give advice or solutions; she just reports on a whole slue of studies and observations about the shifting focus of parenting from satisfying children's basic needs to fulfilling our children's emotional needs. The early chapters of his book validated a lot of feelings I have been having regarding the inequity of domestic chore/children care division between husbands and wives. It was nice to know that I am not alone in my frustrations. She also shares some insight from modern dads that were helpful to hear. Good dads don't compare themselves to any gold standard of parenting, so they don't have guilt. They hold themselves up as the standard, and they aren't afraid to claim time for themselves. She also discussed how children live in the present - something else we moms could stand to emulate. Too often we give into the distractions of the clock, TV, and our phones. She points out that childhood is a modern construct. Up until the 18th century (I think?) children were expected to work. Only in the 1910s did the toy industry explode. Before then children played outdoors and with household objects. Parents today spend more time playing with their kids than any other generation. And we middle class parents spend a ton of time shuttling our children from activity to activity, robbing us of time alone or time to do chores, etc. The audiobook was read by the author, and while she wasn't the best voice to listen to, I found that I enjoyed the book immensely anyway, especially the earlier chapters. Although the last chapter on adolescence did give me a glimpse into my future. And my one take away there was to make sure I have other interests outside of my son because one day he'll begin to withdraw (and eventually leave the house), and I need to have other things to fall back on. Overall, this book was very insightful, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. I recommend it to parents with children of all ages, or even those who are expecting or planning on having children. Senior highlights how much our lives are changed by having children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walked in, a gun in his hands.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He purred back. He sat down next to her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chat with me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laughs sliding my pants off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CiullaML More than 1 year ago
Every parent today should read this book. I could not put it down. It was a fabulous read - very down to earth but informative. It is going to be my go to baby gift for friends now. Everyone should read this. 
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Looks at him
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GeorgeBeam More than 1 year ago
Answers to Questions Are Not Reliable I’m not recommending Jennifer Senior’s All Joy and No Fun because it’s based on answers to questions which, according to extensive research , are not reliable. Even Senior acknowledges (unintentionally, I presume) the unreliability of answers when she writes that some surveys generate contradictory results or, as she puts it with nicer words, “disparate trends” (p. 151), and that respondents are sometimes dishonest or, again, nicer, “more ambivalent . . . than we care to admit” (ibid). Similarly, Zoe Heller, in an overall favorable review of Senior’s amalgam of responses, writes: “of course” some respondents could be “lying or at least sentimentalizing the truth” . Respondents’ memory also can skew answers. Moreover, answers to questions are made unreliable, not only by respondents, but also by the other three components of the asking method: asking instruments, situations/environments in which questions are asked and answers given, and by askers themselves. To be sure, not every answer to every question is incorrect; thus, some of the information in this book about the lives of parents could be accurate; but how can you distinguish between what’s accurate and what’s contradictory; between correct answers and the incorrect responses given by dishonest respondents? Well, you can’t! When all you have are answers—and that’s essentially all that Senior has—it’s impossible to know which, if any, are correct or incorrect. The only way to know is to check or verify answers with observation, documents, or from other non-asking sources of data. Senior does not check her answers with data from these other sources; all she has are answers, all she has is unreliable information. If you want to find out what’s really going on (concerning parents, or anything else) don’t ask!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hugs u. Im soo sorry
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smiles. Ok
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any nice single guy wanna chat?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi and some one is fake being me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im sorry some one told me to come here and say that....i didnt mean to be rude or anything