The Parents and Children Project

Raising Kids in Canada Today

Gillian Ranson

What is it like to be a parent raising kids in Canada today? Sociologist and writer Gillian Ranson put that question to more than 80 parents across the country. The answers she got were often surprising. She learned that parents are bombarded with competing advice, from many sources, and must figure out for themselves what will work best for their own children. Often, they are stressed for time, and managing without much support on the ground. They know that, in a world driven by social media, they will be judged on their child-rearing practices. Many spoke of a stifling environment of surveillance, of watchful eyes in neighbourhoods and public places constraining
their own and their children’s activities.

For many researchers, and many parents too, it’s the sense of parenting as a job—requiring particular skills leading to measurable outcomes in children—that is the heart of the matter. At what point did raising kids shift from being something that parents learned by doing to something they needed expert-driven parenting classes and parenting books to figure out? At what point did parents get turned into teachers, charged with producing model children—and blamed for less than optimal outcomes? How did judgment and surveillance come to loom so large? How did raising kids come to be such hard work?

Ranson provides an innovative and compelling picture of life on the ground with children ranging from infants to high schoolers. The book is the first of its kind in Canada to take this approach. It looks at the balance between what’s expected of parents, and by whom, and what actually happens in the homes and backyards and neighbourhoods of families across the country. And it imagines a future where raising kids might be less stressful—and more fun.

192 pages • 6 x 9 • paperback • 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-77244-055-3
$34.95 CANADA / $24.95 US