Liberation's Children: Parents and Kids in a Postmodern Age
by Kay S. Hymowitz
Contributing editor, City Journal,
and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow
“These are strange times to be growing up in America. A mere 20 years ago, who could have imagined a world where nine-month-olds use computers, ten-year-olds dress like Las Vegas showgirls, and high schoolers pass through halls with armed guards?” So opens City Journal contributing editor and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Kay Hymowitz’s latest book, Liberation’s Children: Parents and Kids in a Postmodern Age (Ivan R. Dee, 2003).
Hymowitz chronicles the moral decline of modern America’s privileged youth. Liberation’s Children follows an anecdotal path that leads where today’s childhood experts fear to tread—on a quest to learn “What are American children learning from adults about?” Among Hymowitz’s assertions:
- Today’s child “experts” have created the impression that socializing children—bringing them into a community of shared meanings and values—barely requires adult attention.
- Today’s parents, teachers and child “experts” know only how to celebrate the individual child, empowering him to “find his own way”—even as pop culture beckons him in the wrong direction with its enticing fantasies.
- Popular culture has glamorized “cool”; an emotional style of tough, don’t-need-nobody individualism that often leads to feelings of isolation or despair among children.
Hymowitz argues that although our society produces overachievers dedicated to the gospel of “ecstatic capitalism,” it leaves them without a sense of fulfillment. No book chronicles this emptiness—from infancy to young adulthood—better than Liberation’s Children.
Kay S. Hymowitz is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She writes extensively on education and childhood in America. She has also written for many major publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Public Interest, Commentary, Dissent, and Tikkun.
Kay S. Hymowitz received a B.A. magna cum laude with honors in English and American literature from Brandeis University, an M.A. in English literature from Tufts University, and a Masters of Philosophy from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three children.
Kay Hymowitz's widely acclaimed first book, Ready or Not: Why Treating our Children as Small Adults Endangers Their Future and Ours, offers a startling new interpretation of what makes our children tick and where the moral anomie of today’s children comes from. She reveals how our ideas about child-rearing have been transformed in response to the theories of various “experts”—
educators, psychologists, lawyers, media executives—who believe that children should be treated as small adults, autonomous actors who know what is best for themselves and who have no need for adult instruction or supervision. Says nationally syndicated columnist Mona Charen, Ready or Not is "the wisest piece of social criticism to be published in many years."