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Continued: Author Jennifer Senior explains why parents are unhappy but joyful

  • Article by: KATY READ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 16, 2014 - 1:36 PM

Q: You note that parents are happiest in places like Sweden, where families enjoy strong social services such as paid parental leave and subsidized day care. Among industrialized countries, the United States has both the least government support for parents and the highest happiness gap between parents and nonparents. Were you tempted to stop your research with that fact and just blame the government?

A: There’s a very strong will in this country to go it yourself and to not rely on the government for things. I could sit there and blame the government but that just seems like an unproductive instinct, because I know where I live and I can’t change it. But you know, I think we can all take a breath and maybe resolve to do things differently. There’s no material evidence that scheduling our kids for 9,000 things is any more helpful than scheduling them for 4,500 things.


Q: One review of your book warned, “If you want to have kids but your partner is on the fence, do not let your partner read this book.” Are you afraid of turning off prospective parents and causing the human race to die out?

A: [Laughs.] No. I think people ought to have honest conversations about this. If people are on the fence about having children and they read my book and decide they don’t want to have kids, I’m not going to feel like I did anybody a favor or like I did anybody a disservice. I feel like I laid it out in as clear a way as I could.

My hope is that parents will feel affirmed. The feedback I’ve gotten suggests they are. And I also have heard from people who are about to have kids or are on the fence, who feel affirmed by the joy stuff, who feel like the joy alone is worth it.


Katy Read • 612-673-4583


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  • Jennifer Senior

  • "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood," by Jennifer Senior


    Who: Jennifer Senior will discuss her new book, “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting.”

    Where: Talk of the Stacks, Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.

    When: 7 p.m. Tue.

    Tickets: Free. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and a reception and book-signing will follow.

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