In America parents are supposed to play god but, mere mortals after all, they quake when confronted with this stupendous responsibility. Thus, Callahan suggests, there is a ready market for how-to books -- she does not deplore this as parenting must be learned -- which reflect our mainstream culture (""the individualism, privatism and sexism of American society"") and treat the family as an isolate from a larger world. But in putting her own two cents into the debate Callahan limits herself to definitions of what parenthood ought to be (a ""form of midwifery to a remarkably complex and subtle process of development"") and generalized basics which reflect her affinity for the golden mean -- protection without smothering, guidance coupled with a willingness to let go, permissiveness with the possibility of frustration, defense of the child before other authorities (""Be your child's advocate in the world"") while teaching him to compromise (""It's not fair but then life is not fair and the child has to learn to adapt to a certain amount of injustice to survive""). She's for non-sexist child-raising, day-care, etc. but also a strong supporter of the nuclear family and biological parenting, with adoption seen as a deviation from the norm (""there is a felt difference, a discomforting discrepancy. . .""). In short this book is a Boojum, neither guide nor sociology -- a seesaw lightly weighted at both ends.