An incisive investigation of the many complex “points of intersection” between “parenthood and fear.”
Making a quick trip into a store, Brooks (The Houseguest, 2016) was only gone for five minutes, leaving her 4-year-old son in his car seat inside the locked car, with the windows ajar. Yet those moments transformed her life in more ways than she could have imagined. With nonapologetic honesty, the author shares her story of that day and the aftermath as her case of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” worked its way through Virginia’s court system. The author skillfully interlinks her personal story with interviews of other mothers who have done similar things—e.g., letting their children play at a local park alone or going to get coffee while leaving a child in a car. She also provides a well-researched look at the American parenting system; she discovered that not only are Americans highly competitive in the parenting realm, they are extremely judgmental as well. More often than not, her experience brought her shame and made her question the extreme role that parents, particularly mothers, play in child-rearing. The intense scrutiny by others and the pervasive fear that surrounds American parenting are contributing to a generation of children lacking independence and autonomy. Brooks also shares insights into European methods of parenting, which are far more permissive for the children and more relaxed for the parents. This is a surprisingly moving account of what is a fairly common experience, delivering readers much food for thought on the multilayered issues of how much control parents should have over their children’s lives and how much input parents should offer other parents. “Fear is neither wrong nor right. It is what it is,” writes Brooks. “But in the end, it can’t give us the thing we most desire…control.”
An engaging, enlightening story that reveals the potential harm parents and society can do to children when they don’t allow them any freedoms at all.