Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Regan Books / HarperCollins
Release Date: September 23, 2003
ISBN: 0060011831
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre:   Parenting / Self-Help
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Patricia Aliventi
Reviewer Notes:  

The Epidemic
The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children
By Robert Shaw M.D. with Stephanie Wood

   How many times have you heard someone complain, "I don't know what's the matter with kids today?" In his book The Epidemic, Dr. Robert Shaw puts the blame for the current crop of seemingly narcissistic children squarely back on the permissive parenting styles advocated in many other books. By citing specific conflict situations between parent and child and showing two very different results of the possible reaction by parents, he manages to drive his point home.

   I’ve all too often seen parents surrender control of their households and lives to their children in the same way Shaw describes, although I think it’s often for different reasons than he cites. He also addresses problems in a broad sense, not allowing for parents who have children who suffer from genuine learning and emotional difficulties, nor varying circumstances. In his chapter on childcare, he always makes it seem as if it’s an option for parents, not a situation where some people really have no choice. One example he gives is of a woman who chooses to stay home while her husband, a retail clerk, works and they cut back on their lifestyle. In our part of the country they would not be able to afford to live on a retail clerk’s salary.

   Still, Shaw has many valid points and I felt his voice advocating more discipline and parents taking back control of their households is one not often heard in today’s world. There are enough examples of how parents who have already lost control of their children can take it back that the book is definitely helpful, even if you don’t want to follow each and every one of his suggestions.