Parents Under Pressure: Struggling to Raise Children in an Unequal America
by Karen Zilberstein
One in six American children live in poverty. One in six struggle with a developmental disability. An estimated 70 percent of American adults have experienced a traumatic event. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of these circumstances, societal expectations and the country’s fragmented, under-resourced service systems make it nearly impossible for families experiencing hardship to keep up. In many cases, the system makes their situation worse.
Parents Under Pressure: Struggling to Raise Children in an Unequal America, which has won two 2019 Indie Next Generation Book Awards, provides a candid look at how parents contending with poverty, illness, disability, or other constraints are expected to do so much with so little—and the price they and society pay. Through the unforgettable portraits of six overburdened families, Parents Under Pressure shows how health crises can quickly devolve into the loss of jobs and homes, how public perceptions of poor people hamper the chances for a better life and the ways in which race and income affect access to assistance. Judged by family, friends and professionals who question their abilities and choices, parents feel inadequate and drained, rather than supported. Couched in a rich account of how American parenting ideals and public support systems have evolved over time, Parents Under Pressure offers a panoramic view of where we are today how we got here and how we might do better.
Karen Zilberstein, LICSW, is a practicing psychotherapist and Clinical Director of the Northampton, MA chapter of A Home Within, a national nonprofit that provides pro bono psychotherapy for individuals who have experienced foster care. She worked as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Smith College School for Social Work for 12 years, where she taught and coordinated the Child Development Team. She has co-authored a children’s book entitled Calming Stormy Feelings: A Child’s Introduction to Psychotherapy and published numerous journal articles on child therapy, parenting interventions, the treatment of foster and adopted children, and the clinical implications of attachment and complex trauma in children.