Worried All the Time
Rediscovering the Joy in Parenthood in an Age of Anxiety
In the tradition of Dr. Benjamin Spock, who in 1946 revolutionized parenting with the famous opening words of his classic child-rearing guide, "You know more than you think you know," child and family therapist David Anderegg reminds contemporary parents that "parenting is not rocket science. It's not even Chem 101." So why do those of us with children worry so much?
Whether they're thinking about school violence or getting a child into the right college, American moms and dads are a pretty worried crowd. Even though most American families are safer and healthier today than at any other time in our history, studies show that parental worrying has, in recent years, reached an all-time high. In Worried All the Time, Dr. Anderegg draws on social science research and his more than twenty years' experience as a therapist treating both parents and their children to clarify facts and fantasies about kids' lives today and the key issues that preoccupy parents. In the process, he offers a comforting and useful message: Parents are suffering needlessly -- and there are things they can do to take the edge off and focus on what their children really need.
In Worried All the Time, Dr. Anderegg identifies some of the causes of worry in contemporary American families, including fewer children, exaggerated fear of competition, and overblown media reports of children at risk. Anderegg calls this the "tabloidization of children" and critiques the fashion for media portrayals of "children in crisis." One at a time, he takes on the hot-button issues of our times:
the use of day care and nannies
overexposure to media
experimentation with drugs
and looks a little closer to see the facts and the fantasies beneath the hysteria. Calling himself a "crisis agnostic," Anderegg persuasively argues that needless worry has negative consequences for families and for our culture as a whole. The cardinal rules of good parenting -- moderation, empathy, and temperamental accommodation with one's child -- are simple, he says, and are not likely to be improved upon by the latest scientific findings. Anderegg helps parents to understand the difference between wise vigilance and potentially crippling anxiety and to gain the confidence to trust their own common sense.