All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior

All Joy and No FunI have to admit that reading is such an escape for me that I rarely read anything directly applicable to my life. This includes books about: work, parenting, self-help, spirituality, politics, and global issues. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood is the exception for me.

Ever since I became a parent around 4 years ago many questions have plagued me. I have questions beyond:
“How do I make her stop crying?”
“When was the last time I took a shower?”
“Did I just tell my co-worker I had to go potty?”
I often wonder why parenting seems so hard when I do not remember my mother and her generation having the same struggles being a parent.

This book answers a lot of those questions; however, it is not about how to be a better parent. The writer clearly states that this book is about the effect of children on parents . Author Jennifer Senior explicitly outlines all the things that are different today. She cites real studies, observes real parents in action, and even throws in some humorous parenting anecdotes from the likes of Erma Bombeck and Louis C.K.

Senior posits that even though parents experience moments of rapturous joy more frequently than our childless peers (like hearing my daughter laugh hysterically), we also don’t have a lot of fun the rest of the time and childcare is low on the list of fulfilling day-to-day activities. I know that sounds alarming and you think, “But I love spending time with my child!”. Look, children have never been on the top of the list to parents EVER. Senior points out (with physiological evidence) that you are dealing with an illogical being who may insist that she does not know how to put her shoes on —even though we know she does know how to put her shoes on, or screams over and over from her bedroom that she “forgot how to take a nap” (Step 1: stop screaming). So please, admit to yourself that it is not always fun, and that’s ok. But we have to put up with all the no fun to get to the joy. That’s the same with toddlers and teenagers.

So has All Joy and No Fun made me a better parent? Yes. Although Senior says she does not want to make the reader into a better parent, just more relaxed and aware of the process. That to me is a vast improvement in my state of mind and outlook on day-to-day life with my tiny caveman dictator (and bundle of joy). Now that I am taking fewer anxiety-laden guilt trips (you know, those trips that go absolutely nowhere), I may actually have the mental energy to read a book about being a better parent!

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One Response to “All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior”

  1. Best New Books of 2014: Amy W’s Picks | Wake County Libraries "Book a Day" Staff Pick Says:

    […] All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior Why, why, why is parenting so hard today? This thought has crossed my mind a lot, well, more accurately, this thought lives in my mind and it ain’t goin’ nowhere. Parenting seemed easy for my mom (it also did not hurt that I was a perfect child, am I right?). This is really the only parenting book I have ever read and boy, do I love it! It is not a book about how to parent , but a look at what parenting is about these days from a sociological and psychological perspective. So, I was right — it is hard–but now I spend a lot less time focusing on the no fun aspects of parenting. See my full review. […]

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