Dreams of the Overworked: Living, Working, and Parenting in the Digital Age

Stanford Univ. Jun. 2020. 312p. ISBN 9781503602557. $28. CHILD REARING
Working harder, living more anxious lives, busy, and frenzied is how Beckman (public policy, Univ. of Southern California) describes parents and all Americans these days. In Part 1, Beckman and Mazmanian (organization and management, Univ. of California, Irvine) lay bare the myths and impossible ideals that hold us back: the call to be the ideal worker and perfect parent, to have the ultimate body, and other false hopes. Technology creates the expectation of being constantly available and accessible, intensifying the impossible expectations and creating further discouragement. Encouragingly though, Beckman and Mazmanian believe we are succeeding beyond our own expectations. Scaffolding and social support are more crucial than ever in a technology-driven society and are explored in the final section. The authors use the examples of nine real-life families to illustrate the varying yet similar struggles faced by parents across the country in the digital age. Though the work would have benefited from more variety of perspective—all of those profiled work for the same hotel management firm—few would argue the role perfectionistic expectations play in parenting today.
VERDICT Counselors and social workers may find these case studies and suggestions especially helpful as they attempt to help their clients navigate this brave new world of technology and the stresses it creates on parents.
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