Bookmarks Issue: 
Po Bronson

New Thinking About Children

A-NurtureShockPo Bronson is the author of several novels and nonfiction books, including What Should I Do with My Life?. Ashley Merryman, in addition to her journalistic work, runs a tutoring program for inner-city children in Los Angeles.

The Topic: Parents who praise their children's every move, carefully shelter them from divisive ideas about race and gender, and isolate them from violent movies and films are about to receive a slap on the wrist from science. Well, perhaps nothing so prescriptive--NurtureShock is not exactly a book of advice--but a massive download of the latest data on child rearing, much of which goes against the accepted wisdom. Conceived and born in a cloud of buzz, NurtureShock's marriage of pointed essays and illuminating anecdotes may make it the Freakonomics of child rearing.
Twelve. 336 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 9780446504126

Daily Beast 4 of 5 Stars
"A parenting book that contains no advice? That's the conceit behind NurtureShock, a new non-instructional tome that will make you a better mom or dad without you even knowing it." John Douglass Marshall

Onion AV Club 4 of 5 Stars
"[Bronson] delights in showing that most parental intuition and supposedly common knowledge about child rearing is just bullshit, and he has the facts to prove it. Much like in his previous work, he's entered a genre known for emotional cheese, and produced a book that's hard to put down and easy to take seriously." Samantha Nelson

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"The authors, who have collaborated on articles about the science of parenting for New York and Time magazines, throw open the doors on this research to create a book that is not only groundbreaking but compelling as well. Even if you don't have children, or your kids are grown, you should find the revelations about how the brain works and the rigors and frustrations of the scientific process captivating." Regan McMahon

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"As he did in What Should I Do With My Life?, his 2002 best seller, Bronson has adroitly polished a fairly unoriginal subject into high-gloss pop psychology. This isn't the big news of the day, but the small, consequential news that affects our daily lives; it's the stuff of breakfast shows and private-school parenting seminars. It's ‘What Should I Do With My Kids?'" Pamela Paul

Critical Summary

Reviewers were generally wowed by Bronson and Merryman's breezy synthesis of the latest parenting research. They often favorably contrasted NurtureShock with traditional parenting guides, which seem old-fashioned compared with the authors' cutting-edge approach. But at least one skeptic felt that NurtureShock was just more of the same; the New York Times Book Review noted that every generation has a "revolutionary" book of parental advice, and this one may only seem novel because of a new kind of packaging. Nevertheless, even Pamela Paul found parts of the book interesting, suggesting that there may indeed be something in NurtureShock for everyone.