Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ships Without a Shore: Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Ships Without a Shore: America’s Undernurtured Children
Author: Anne Pierce PhD
ISBN-13: 978-1412807166
Publication: Transaction Publishers (January 28, 2008)

Summary Statement: A Very Important Book -- A Must Read

“Ships Without a Shore” by Anne Pierce PhD is a unique and much needed book about the state of parenting today.

Mainstream parenting as it is being done right now is analyzed thoroughly, that is, the lifestyle of babies and children raised in daycare and toddlers taking classes and doing sports, children being raised in institutions (including public schools), children busy with after school programs, extra-curricular activities after school and on weekends and summers filled with camps. The author asks questions about how the children, the products of their parent’s lifestyle choices, are turning out. With many citations to studies, the answer is that today’s teens are already in a disaster state and todays youngest are headed down a sad road also. By looking at the results of these parenting choices such as the rising rates of alcohol and drug abuse, rising eating disorders, rising self-mutilation, rising child and teen depression rates, suicidal teens and detached apathetic children and teens, the author asks how they got that way and the answer is that they are the products of their upbringing: they have been under-nurtured due to the parenting decisions and lifestyle choices of their parents. Yes, the children are suffering due to the choices that their parents made.

Pierce looks back over history and seeks to find the answer to how we got here. Mothers of today who were happy with their own childhood usually choose a very different lifestyle for their own children. We who were raised in the 1970s and 1980s are being guided to parent our children very differently than we ourselves were parented. Why is that? How did we get to a place where we abandoned the typical way of parenting for thousands of years and jump to this other way? Pierce calls our modern day parenting a ‘social experiment’. No matter how much some would like to think that their lives are fantastic, if their children are turning out to be a mess then our society should be rethinking things. The author explains the history of America and changes brought on by feminism and moral relativism. The role of a woman in our society and the role of today’s mother is analyzed including discussion of how a mother who chooses to stay home to raise her children is marginalized and shamed by society and the media. The skewing of statistics in order to lead the public to believe that more mothers of very young children is done intentionally by some in our society in order to push an agenda that working mothers are the norm. Another interesting topic is the uniqueness of males versus females, how the attempt to make our culture androgynous is hurting our society. Topics such as absentee fathers and divorce and the effects on the child are examined. Later, Pierce looks at Russia in the early 20th century and shows the effect of socialism and how it altered the family dynamic and the way children were brought up. Surprisingly, today’s America resembles socialist Russia, and the negative outcomes of socialist Russia’s children are explained—is that what we want for our children?

Some other topics covered are related to American public schooling and the content that is being taught or not taught to today’s children. Issues the author explains in depth are the problems with teaching negative content about the environment and man’s ruination of the Earth, before children even know the basics about the environment. The author discusses the problems multiculturalism, the effect of the bashing of American history and the overall dumbing down of the curriculum. Today’s children have rising rates of learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and problems thinking—some of which the author ties to being raised in daycare situations or being rushed to formal academics at a too-young age when their brain is not even physically developed enough to handle the processing of that type of learning, and is damaged as a result.

Pierce has carefully crafted this book, digging deep to find historical references or studies to back up what some would like to say is ‘just her opinion’. The fact of the matter is that studies and statistics have been showing for years, the negative effects of things such as babies separated from their mothers and turned over to strangers for paid daycare. The author shows how the American media filters and hides information from the public which ‘they’ don’t want us to know as the information is disturbing and would lead people to consider changing their ways. Clear documentation of some suppression of scientific data is provided. We, the public, have reason to be wary of the media and even our government who doesn’t always disclose all the findings of the NIH studies funded by our own tax dollars.

Beyond the daycare issue, the subject of the innocence of children and the importance of parents working to ensure that their children are protected and allowed to grow up and through each developmental stage rather than being rushed to adulthood with too much exposure to mature content is addressed. The importance of time to think and play and relax and ‘be a kid’ is discussed. Moral relativism is another cause of the state of today’s affairs in America. This is examined and applied to many different aspects of parenting and the negative ramifications of it are glaring.

I read the book cover to cover with pencil in hand. I couldn’t stop myself from underlining passages and making notes in the margins. This book is one that should be read slowly and carefully. The book is not filled with fluff nor is it a lot of white space. The author chose her words carefully and writes in a precise style. I had to read it slowly so as to be sure to not miss a single word. This is not a book to skim as you may miss something. This is a very serious book that should be required reading for all people who think they will one day become parents, and for all parents too.

As a mother who has chosen to put her own career on hold in order to be home to raise my children, I found validation of my choices in the pages of this book. Things I had wondered about or strongly suspected were the root causes of some outcomes that I have witnessed in some young children were confirmed. Learning new things about the problems associated with this ‘new parenting’ that is going on all around me has confirmed that our family made the wise choice. Just as the author asks readers to do, I too have always based my parenting decisions on what is best for the child, which is not necessarily the easiest thing or the best thing for me. Active parenting takes work and Pierce drives home the point that children do need our presence and our attention for their entire childhood.

What the author does is ask ‘what is best for the child’? What do children need physically and emotionally? Then after we know that, we adults, the parents, should make our lifestyle decisions based on what is best for the children. We should be informed and make informed decisions.

This book is brilliant. It will leave you wanting to talk about the ideas with someone. It would make an excellent book club book.

Please buy and read this book. Then tell all of your friends about it and get them to buy it. (We need to keep this book in print and support the work of this author!)

Let’s really get a dialogue going about this very important topic. Our children and the future of our country depend on it.

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DebD said...

This sounds like a fascinating book. What an excellent review...thanks!

Blueberry said...

Thank you for such a great review! I'm looking forward to purchasing this book and reading it this summer.

You said, "It will leave you wanting to talk about the ideas with someone. It would make an excellent book club book."

I wish I had someone locally to discuss this with, but sadly I'm afraid alone in this area. I have yet to meet anyone that has connected the dots of today's America to Russian socialism.

Crimson Wife said...

Fantastic review! I actually made a library purchase request for this very book after seeing it advertised in Brain Child magazine. I'm now anxiously awaiting it to come in and become available for borrowing!

Alasandra said...

It has gone on my reading list. I can't wait to read it for myself.

molleebranden said...

I am a student and just read this book which filled me with self-reflection (although I am not yet a mother myself...) and forced me to take a good look at our society and the way we justify the choices we make for children. Your review is right-on in the various approaches and arguments Pierce makes in her text; it is filled with psychological, sociological, scientific and political connects as well as personal accounts as to the damaging effects the popular opinion has inflicted upon today's children. Dual working parents (or single-working) may find themselves in NEED for financial stability but what is more often neglected is the fulfillment of relational needs between parent and child at the expense of institutionalized care and structured activities. I do not believe that Pierce condones sports, arts or community groups, but rather is suggesting that we critically examine the amount of effort our children put into outside programs, rather than their personal and familial growth. The effects of 'over-worked' children are emotionally drained and uninterested teens who turn to destructive patterns to relieve themselves from boredom. If the mothers out there would go out and read this book, support Pierce's work, there would be a better understanding to the role of parenthood - hopefully our society will become more aware that parenting is a FULL-TIME job with the benefits being a well-rounded, loved child rather than being focused on the financial security from an income.