Under Pressure by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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									Under Pressure
Author: Carl Honore

"Why do grown-ups have to take over everything?" This innocent question from acclaimed journalist and
international bestselling author Carl Honoré's son sparked a two-year investigation into how our culture of
speed, efficiency, and success at all costs is damaging both parents and children. When the impulse to
give children the best of everything runs rampant, parents, schools, communities, and corporations
unwittingly combine forces to create over-scheduled, over-stimulated, and overindulged kids. The mere
mention of potty-training, ballet classes, preschool, ADD, or overeating is enough to spark a heated
debate about the right way to raise our children. The problem is that despite the best intentions of all
involved, the pressure to manage every detail of our children's lives from in utero through college is
overwhelming.Delivering much more than a wake-up call, international bestselling author Carl Honoré 
interviews experts in Europe, North America, and the Far East, talks to families around the world and
sifts through the latest scientific research. Not only do we see the real dangers of micromanaging
children, but Honoré also shows us an emerging new movement inspiring many to slow down and find the 
natural balance between too little and too much. Blending the finest reportage, intellectual inquiry, and
extraordinary true stories, Under Pressure is the first book to challenge the status quo by mapping out an
alternative to the culture of hyperparenting that is presently pushing children and their parents to the

It's the Adults, Stupid On these magic shores, children at play are forever beaching their coracles. We
too have been there. We can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.
—J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan On a summer afternoon toward the end of exams, the ancient colleges of
Oxford are a playground for gilded youth. Sunshine warms the stone buildings as a breeze riffles the ivy
clinging to the eaves. At Magdalen College, students from around the world hang out on lawns of putting-
green perfection, reading newspapers, chatting on mobile phones, listening to iPods. A croquet game
starts up, sending laughter echoing round the old quad. This is a snapshot of the new elite at rest. To
paraphrase Cecil Rhodes, father of the Rhodes Scholarship program, these young people have won first
prize in the lottery of life.Or have they? George Rousseau, codirector of Oxford University's Centre for the
History of Childhood, is not so sure. We meet in the old smoking room of Magdalen College. Faded
paintings of rural scenes hang on the paneled walls. Professors chat donnishly over cups of tea and
coffee beneath a beamed ceiling. From our worn leather armchairs we can see students ambling across
the courtyard below. Rousseau, who has spent thirty-five years teaching at elite colleges on both sides of
the Atlantic, kicks off by telling me that twenty-first-century children get a raw deal."I feel sorry for many
young people today, particularly those in affluent families," he says. "They don't face the threat of death
and disease that earlier generations did, and they have many advantages, but they are also nannied,
pressured, and overprotected to the point of suffocation. They are left with no sense of freedom."If that is
going to change, then we must first understand how childhood evolved into its present form. This is not an
easy task, Rousseau tells me. Generalizations are hard to make because children's lives vary so widely,
not only across time but also across social classes and cultures. The history of childhood as an
academic discipline only really took off in the 1960s, and even now our knowledge of adult-child relations
in the premodern era remains patchy. "The result is a lot of speculation and guesswork," says
Rousseau.One common myth is that childhood did not exist at all in the past. This idea entered
conventional wisdom in the 1960s when Philippe Ariès, a French historian, argued that children in 
medieval Europe were treated as miniature adults from the moment they were weaned—wearing the
same clothes, enjoying the same entertainment, working the same jobs as everyone else.Ariès was right 
that the distant past was a very adult place, but his claim that our forebears had no conception of
childhood and therefore never treated children differently was wide of the mark. Two thousand years
before NetNanny, Plato insisted that a society should monitor what its young see, hear, and read. Even
the Rule of Benedict, the leading monastic guide in medieval Europe, stipulated that child monks be
granted extra food and sleep, as well as time to play. "Ariès came up with a compelling narrative for his 
time but it was partly wrong, or at least incomplete," says Rousseau.Another misconception is that,
hardened by high death rates, parents in earlier times avoided forging an emotional bond with their
offspring, treating them instead like disposable servants. Families often recycled the name of a dead child
by giving it to a sibling. In the first century A.D., the Roman philosopher Seneca...
Author Bio
Carl Honore
After studying history and Italian at Edinburgh University, Carl Honoré worked with street children in 
Brazil. This inspired him to take up journalism. Since 1991, he has written from all over Europe and South
America, spending three years in Buenos Aires along the way. His work has appeared in publications on
both sides of the Atlantic, including the Economist, Observer, American Way, National Post, Globe and
Mail, Houston Chronicle, and Miami Herald. His first book, In Praise of Slowness, was an international

“...a must-read book for parents, educators and all concerned with the health and well-being of America’s

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