The ""Democratic Parent,"" Palmer purports to show, can avoid a psychological battering from his or her children; but he gives only occasional glimpses of what such an ideal parent might do. For the most part, he takes a grim view of parenting indeed, offering meager solace and even less advice. Children are assumed to harbor an internal monster (remember Cain?), to actually prefer to disobey, and, by adolescence, to present onerous childrearing problems. From night-time feedings through homework to separation at the end of adolescence, there are cautions aplenty (e.g., don't raise your children to satisfy your own ambitions) but little to allay anxiety. Palmer sees drug problems as those of overuse--and then supplies, in lieu of guidance, just an anecdote about parental drinking, teenage amphetamine abuse, and the inevitable car accident. Problems of adolescent sexuality are seen mainly--and curiously--in terms of competition between parent and same-sex child. Again, the guidance consists chiefly of platitudes (be aware of physical development and peer pressure, assure your children that they don't have to do anything they're not ready for) and omits mention of contraception, VD, or even hugs and kisses. Chapters on grandparents, shaky marriages, and divorce follow the same pattern: anecdotes and description, with minimal advice. Considering the many helpful books on the market, this one can be recommended only to masochists.