Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting

Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting Review

From a distinctive, inimitable voice, a wickedly funny and fascinating romp through the strange and often contradictory history of Western parenting

Why do we read our kids fairy tales about homicidal stepparents? How did helicopter parenting develop if it used to be perfectly socially acceptable to abandon your children? Why do we encourage our babies to crawl if crawling won’t help them learn to walk?

These are just some of the questions that came to Jennifer Traig when—exhausted, frazzled, and at sea after the birth of her two children—she began to interrogate the traditional parenting advice she’d been conditioned to accept at face value. The result is Act Natural, hilarious and deft dissection of the history of Western parenting, written with the signature biting wit and deep insights Traig has become known for.

Moving from ancient Rome to Puritan New England to the Dr. Spock craze of mid-century America, Traig cheerfully explores historic and present-day parenting techniques ranging from the misguided, to the nonsensical, to the truly horrifying. Be it childbirth, breastfeeding, or the ways in which we teach children how to sleep, walk, eat, and talk, she leaves no stone unturned in her quest for answers: Have our techniques actually evolved into something better? Or are we still just scrambling in the dark?

Title:Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Julian

    Interesting history tidbits but got repetitive or at least thematically redundant to me. It might be the subject matter's fault, but I feel like the book could have been 25% it's volume and communicat...

  • Liz

    3.5. The chapter on children's literature got a little overlong (this one's for you, Agnes!), but otherwise this book kept me entertained and smiling on a 13-hour-flight....

  • Erin

    I have no idea if one has to have children to find this entertaining, but holy moly did I like it. Her footnotes were as interesting as the book itself. I wish the chapter on children's literature wer...

  • Varina

    This book mostly made me feel gratitude to be me, a parent in 2019 (despite the constant fear of what climate change will do to my kids’ lives). Grateful that I’m not a hyena pushing a FOUR POUND ...

  • Rosey Waters

    Reading this over the course of five days felt endless and I don't know why. The writing was amusing and definitely had that little bit of flair that you need in a book like this, and the author wasn'...

  • Elaine

    Warning: do not read this book in public unless you are fully prepared to explain why you are giggling, snorting, and choking on your lunch. I laughed so much that my kids started asking why I was lau...

  • Kate

    I was entertained throughout most of this book, however, I feel each chapter would have been better as a stand alone essay. There were many things the author covered that she insisted on repeating aga...

  • Yunis Esa

    History with a lot humor. As parent, Professor Traig's book give a lot of insight to parenting throughout history. One of the biggest takeaway from the book is seeing that older generation ideas of ch...

  • Leah

    This was going to be 4 stars but oh man do the last few chapters slog on. I liked most of this one. A sort of light hearted nonfiction similar to Mary Roach’s style with humor in footnotes and littl...

  • Katie Bruell

    This was hilarious and a ton of fun to read. I did get the feeling that instead of telling a straightforward history she picked out the most ridiculous, shocking, or strange pieces. Which, of course, ...