How parents have been set up to fail, and why helping them succeed is the key to achieving a fair and prosperous society.
Parenting is, by many measures, the largest industry in the United States. Yet it receives little political support, and its many workers—also known as parents—toil in isolation, without recognition or compensation. If they ask for help, they are made to feel guilty. The parenting industry has no centralized organization representing its interests, and it spends almost nothing on research and development. It's almost as if parents are set up to fail. In The Parent Trap, Nate Hilger explains how this inefficient, inequitable, and demoralizing situation has come about and what we can do about it.
Parents are expected to do more than care for their children. In the 90 percent of the time that their kids are not in school, parents must help them develop the skills they will need to survive in today's socioeconomic reality. But most parents, including even the most caring parents on the planet, are not trained in skill development, and many lack the resources to pay for help—a situation that exacerbates inequality and constrains a child's chances for success later in life. How can we fix this? The key, Hilger argues, is to ask less of parents, not more. Parents need the kind of large-scale support that is best supplied by government—because, contrary to myth, government programs are effective at helping people. And a comprehensive program to help families—call it Familycare—would be an investment with a big payoff. To make this happen, parents need to organize—to build an organization that could lobby as effectively for Familycare as AARP does for Medicare.