Best Parenting Book. Girls and Sex: navigating the complicated new landscape by Peggy Orenstein. At least once a year I try to read a book about dating, relationships or human behavior to continue my self-development in an area where I get little practical experience. This year, because so many of my friends now have kids in high school and college, I chose Orenstein’s volume, which focuses on girls between the ages of fifteen and twenty and examines a diverse set of topics: self-objectification, oral sex, virginity, the hookup culture, gender and sexual identity, campus assaults, and sex education. Orenstein cites numerous studies on these topics, both historical and recent, and conducted seventy interviews with young women across the country to get their frank and, ironically, sobering perspectives. Although her liberal, progressive bias is prevalent throughout, most of the book would be considered reporting rather than editorializing. On some points, I found there was too much research presented and not enough in the way of solutions. As a 50+, male non-parent, I am not sure if I would be comfortable having detailed discussions about these topics with my friends, but I am comfortable recommending that they read this book. The landscape has certainly changed and they need to know how to make it better for their daughters and sons.
For all my previous “books of the year” lists, see my dedicated page for these titles.