The War against Parents
SYLVIA ANN HEWLETT AND CORNEL WEST
We parents are so used to being trampled on, sneered at, or just plain ignored that we often fail to understand how embattled we are. But occasionally some especially flagrant example of parentbashing grabs our attention and we catch our breath. For a fleeting moment we glimpse ourselves from the outside in, and see and hear the contempt and carelessness American society routinely throws our way.
A few months after my (Sylvia Ann Hewlett) book When the Bough Breaks came out in paperback, I was invited to discuss issues of parental overload and child neglect on the Larry King radio show. In the early 1990s this was one of those hugely popular callin radio shows that reached vast numbers of people across the country. It aired between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., and all kinds of people called in to talk to Larry: lonely truck drivers spinning along interstate highways, trying to stay awake; security guards and insomniacs killing the dead hours in the middle of the night; etc. Most of the call-ins on this particular show were eminently forgettable, but one seared my consciousness in ways I will never forget.
Gary called in to talk to Larry King and me. He was twenty-seven years old and lived in Phoenix, Arizona. Gary wanted to talk about what was going on in his family. He and his wife had just put their three-week-old baby daughter into a kennel.