In her new book "All Joy and No Fun," Jennifer Senior explores how children reshape their parents' lives — for better and worse.

Why you should listen

Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York Magazine, where she writes profiles and cover stories about politics, social science and mental health. In a groundbreaking 2010 story for the magazine, called "All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting," she examined the social science around modern parenting, looking at happiness research from Dan Gilbert, Danny Kahneman and others, as well as anthropological research (she was an anthro major) around how families behave. Her conclusion: Hey, parents, it's okay not to feel blissfully happy all the time.

She expanded the piece into a book that dives deeper into the research and paradoxes of modern American parenting styles -- including parents' sometimes inflated expectations of constant awesomeness, meaningfulness and bliss. As she says, "I think of this book as a series of mini-ethnographies -- portraits of how American families live now."


What others say

“'All Joy and No Fun' captures the complex texture of parents' lives, the joys and the sorrows, highs and lows, with remarkable insight, intelligence, sensitivity, and subtlety.” — Alison Gopnik

Jennifer Senior’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Jennifer Senior

We humans

How to raise successful kids without overparenting

November 7, 2017

Moms and dads often feel like they can’t win. If they pay too much attention to their kids, they’re helicopter parents; too little, and they’re absentee parents. What’s the happy medium that will result in truly happy, self-sufficient kids? Here are five tips.

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Live from TED

The crisis of modern parenting: Jennifer Senior at TED2014

March 21, 2014

Why do so many people today experience parenthood like a kind of crisis? That’s the question Jennifer Senior sets out to answer on the final day of TED2014. The parenting section of Barnes & Noble is packed with books for eco-friendly kids, gluten-free kids, science-minded kids. For Senior, those shelves don’t seem helpful — they […]

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