Parents in Canada today get information and advice from all sides on how they should be raising their kids. Figuring out what’s best is a challenge, especially when ideas about what’s best are in conflict. Parents know too that others will judge them on their choices, and on their practices. The work is hard, and often, they’re managing without much social support.
That is the world that sociologist and writer Gillian Ranson explores in this book. Drawing on interviews with 84 parents across Canada, she describes life on the ground with children ranging from infants to high-schoolers. She sets parents’ experiences in the context of recent research that examines changes in ideas about child development, shifting perceptions of risk, the effects of social media, and the anxiety about “parenting”—as a job, not a relationship—that seems to trouble many parents.
But Ranson also finds parents who value their children’s uniqueness, and want to do what works for them, parents who recognize that children are often more resilient, and more capable, than we give them credit for. The real story, and the focus of the book, is the balance between what’s expected of parents and children (and by whom) and what actually happens in the homes and backyards and neighbourhoods of families across the country.
GILLIAN RANSON is a professor emerita of sociology at the University of Calgary. Her publications include Fathering, Masculinity and the Embodiment of Care (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Against the Grain: Couples, Gender and the Reframing of Parenting (University of Toronto Press, 2010).