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Home » For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar: Jennifer Senior (Transcript)

For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar: Jennifer Senior (Transcript)

Full text and summary of author Jennifer Senior’s talk titled “For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar”. In this TED talk, Jennifer reflects on the anxiety and confusion associated with raising children in modern times. She discusses the multitude of parenting guides available today and question why parenting has become a crisis for many individuals.

Listen to the audio version here:


When I was born, there was really only one book about how to raise your children, and it was written by Dr. Spock. Thank you for indulging me. I’ve always wanted to do that. It was Benjamin Spock, and his book was called The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. It sold almost 50 million copies by the time he died.

Today, I, as the mother of a six-year-old, walk into Barnes & Noble and see this. And it is amazing, the variety that one finds on their shelves. There are guides to raising an eco-friendly kid, a gluten-free kid, a disease-proof kid, which, if you ask me, is a little bit creepy. There are guides to raising a bilingual kid, even if you only speak one language at home.

There are guides to raising a financially savvy kid and a science-minded kid and a kid who is a whiz at yoga. Short of teaching your toddler how to defuse a nuclear bomb, there is pretty much a guide to everything. All of these books are well-intentioned. I am sure that many of them are great, but taken together, I am sorry. I do not see help when I look at that shelf. I see anxiety.

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