An important guide to an occasionally overlooked aspect of modern parenting.

THE BIG DISCONNECT

PROTECTING CHILDHOOD AND FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Parents and children may be enjoying “swift and constant access to everything and everyone on the Internet,” but they are losing “a meaningful personal connection with each other in their own homes.”

So warns Steiner-Adair (Psychiatry/Harvard Medical School; Full of Ourselves: A Wellness Program to Advance Girl Power, Health, and Leadership, 2005, etc.), who argues that family life has been dangerously eroded as parents have become increasingly addicted to digital devices. Their obsession with online connectivity provides an inappropriate role model for their children and takes a special toll on young children, who need undivided attention. Instead, parents use digital devices to occupy their children; these days, the author notes, some preschoolers are more adept at manipulating digital devices than tying their own shoes. Parental inattention is responsible for increased injuries to children, according to the Centers for Disease Control; 22 percent of adults who send text messages are “so distracted by their devices that they have physically bumped into an object or person.” Steiner-Adair's primary concern, however, is not the physical but the psychological damage inflicted on children by multitasking parents; in her clinical practice, she finds children “tired of being the 'call waiting' in their parents' lives.” The author also addresses psychological issues that can arise when children are overexposed to the media and to inappropriate content such as the violence and sexual stereotyping in computer games. She is concerned that the current tendency to substitute texting for direct communication may be eroding empathy by creating a rapid-response environment in which sexual flaunting, rumor and gossip flourish. She emphasizes that indirect communication is inherently impoverished, eliminating body language and vocal cues. This makes it even more important for parents to create an emotionally satisfying, sheltering family environment that fosters character development.

An important guide to an occasionally overlooked aspect of modern parenting.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-208242-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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