The author of more than two dozen works of good humor (You Can’t Be Serious, 1990, etc.) gets tough as well funny as he disses the nitwits who push their offspring toward superstardom from birth—and even before.
A solid family man, Schoenstein launches an effective assault on those who play Mozart to the fetus, those who drill a kid in her nappies in the arcana of geopolitics or iambic pentameter, and all the “Fun for Ones” and “Creepy Crawler” crowd. Creepy, indeed! In his exhaustive research, Schoenstein travels from “Learning Zone” to “Better Baby Institute Activity Zone,” from “Prenatal U” to “Postnatal Upgrade” and reports that it’s all a scam. He relates the grotesque goings-on at a kiddy beauty pageant. The scramble to produce designer infants and the passion to turn toddlers into bimbo contest queens, eminent policy wonks, corporate CEOs, precocious tax evaders, or whatever Mommy and/or Daddy deem most estimable is, he worries, bound to take a toll on the besieged tots. The quest for the fastest track to render offspring superior to the best of any generation won’t accomplish anything anyway, according to the author’s wise friends. Early reading has “no bearing on whether a child will end up in the Institute for Advanced Studies or the Witness Protection Program,” he says. You can’t make Baby read before Baby is ready to read, so there’s no need to haul out Dick and Jane for an embryonic audience. Nor will Beethoven quartets played for the occupant of a womb bring forth a musical genius. Forget the maniacal mind games and let Junior’s psyche develop in the time-tested ways, says old philosopher Schoenstein. Abandon “push parenting,” as he calls it. Let the kids alone and don’t try to fix what’s not broken. Respect the “best blessedness around”—the sweet grace of childhood.
Sensible, warm, and funny, with or without the benefit of pushy parents.