Book Reviews of How to be a guilty parent

How to be a guilty parent
How to be a guilty parent
Author: Glenn Collins
ISBN-13: 9780812910346
ISBN-10: 0812910346
Publication Date: 1983
Pages: 105
Rating:
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Publisher: Times Books
Book Type: Unknown Binding
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Hardcover Humor book. Very funny with cute cartoon illustrations.

below review by Dan Carlinsky:

JUST who is supposed to need a book called ''How to Be a Guilty Parent''? Every parent alive, as Glenn Collins freely concedes, already feels as guilty as can be. In fact, the author would probably be the first to admit that most parents could have written this book themselves. As the author would also be the first to point out, of course, they didn't - he did, and that's what book publishing is all about.

Mr. Collins, a confessed parent who knows so much about parental guilt that he often reports on families, children and behavior for The New York Times, has given us a breezy shopping list of guilt, from Genetic Guilt ('' 'God, she might get Grandpa's trick earlobes, the ones he could make turn signals with!' '') to Pet Guilt ('' 'No, Mikey, your mom and me, we're both allergic to cats' ''), plus dozens of other varieties familiar to any child owner. They are dished up with a few laughs, a lot of chuckles and nonstop nods of recognition.

A parent, we learn, is a person who, when confronted with two options in child rearing, will invariably feel guilty no matter which is chosen. City or suburb? Try living suburban: '' 'Well, I just can't believe that we're spending an entire afternoon in J.C. Penney's Tot World in this godforsaken mall, and do you know what is going on right this very second in the city? The Great Hall of Science is having that Mollusk Day for kids.' ''

Or try city dwelling: '' 'Have the kids ever gone to the Young People's Vermeer Lectures at the Municipal Museum Society? Oh, no, it's always television for them. I mean, for all the exposure to culture they get, you'd think we didn't even live in the city.' ''

Then there's Stay-at-Home Guilt ('' 'No, I don't miss writing those ads and winning those awards - well, not all the time, anyway' '') versus Can't-Stay-at-Home Guilt ('' 'I found a great housekeeper. The baby loves her just like she used to love me - I mean, still loves me - you know, when I get home from work' '').

The lesson is that parents invariably reverse the legendary King Midas: what they touch turns not to gold but to guilt. Parenting is, as they say at Yankee Stadium (or on Wall Street, or wherever it is they say it), a no-win situation.

What we have here, then, is a clear case of mistitling. This is no how-to guide. At its simplest, the book can be an instant diary for parents too busy to write their own. But more exciting is its potential as a birth-control manual for Zero Population Growth.

Presented with Mr. Collins's roster of things to be guilty about (your car, your neighborhood, your cooking, your dinner conversation, your divorce), spiced with Gahan Wilson's wonderful drawings of huge-eyed children, whose lives are obviously being ruined by Mommy and Daddy, any potential parent would surely think twice. Or thrice. In fact, air-drops of ''How to Be a Guilty Parent,'' particularly over suburbs with high birth rates, could have a sociological impact far beyond that of a mere how-to book.

Actually, right up in the introduction, Mr. Collins discards the whole notion of parental guilt. In what sounds like a discussion of street crime by a liberal who has never been mugged (if there are any unmugged liberals left), the author suggests that nothing a parent does deserves blame; instead, blame society. ''Is it remotely possible,'' he asks, ''that any other parents in any other age have had the opportunity to feel as guilty in as many ways as we have? Did they have PG movies? Dinky Donuts Breakfast Cereal? Video games at the checkout counter? I mean, could Ozzie and Harriet have survived the two-paycheck marriage? Could 'Leave It to Beaver' have flourished in an era of joint custody?'' The answer, of course, is: No way. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Review by Dan Carlinsky is a journalist and author of more than 20 books, including ''College Humor, an Anthology of Campus Wit From the 1870's to the 1980's.''