What qualifies me to write this book?
I am a family physician, board-certified in family medicine, currently in practice in suburban Philadelphia. I also have a PhD in psychology. I earned my undergraduate degree in biology at MIT. I earned both my MD and my PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. After doing a three-year residency in family medicine, I practiced for 19 years in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. I then relocated to Chester County Pennsylvania. My primary sources for this book are the more than 90,000 office visits I have conducted in my role as a practicing physician between 1989 and today. I have seen children, teenagers, and their parents, from a wide variety of backgrounds and circumstances. I have seen, from the intimate yet objective perspective of the family physician, the profound changes in American life over the past three decades. I have witnessed first-hand the collapse of American parenting.
In 2001, I began visiting schools and communities, first just across the United States, and then in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland: meeting with teachers and parents, talking with students, listening to professors. From July 2008 through June 2013 I took an extended leave from medical practice in order to devote myself full-time to these visits. I have now visited more than 400 venues across North America and around the world, encountering students, teachers, and/or parents face-to-face. Listening to children and their parents outside of North America has convinced me that we in the United States and Canada now face challenges – of our own making – which are significantly different from the challenges facing parents in Scotland or Switzerland or New Zealand. We American parents are no longer doing a very good job of parenting, despite our large and growing expenditures of time and treasure on the task. I now understand where we have gone wrong, and how to fix it. My prescription is based primarily on what I have seen in the office, but also draws on what I have learned from my conversations with parents, teachers, and kids both within the United States and outside of the United States.