MM 2001: Family & Demography - Books

December 21, 2000

Parenting: What Really Counts?
By Susan Golombok. Routledge, £45.00

What would happen to children if cloning led to a world without men?

Susan Golombok says this was one of a battery of press inquiries that prompted her to write her latest book on parenting, which brings. It brings together a few decades' worth of empirical work on the effects of family structure on children's development and is expected to set the agenda for future family policy. The book challenges myth after myth about the "best" way to bring up children, and it examines the impact on children of medical techniques such as in vitro fertilisation and donor insemination.

The message of the book is that family structure itself is not as important as secure attachment relationships.

But what about a world without men?

Fathers can have a positive effect, but "it does not seem to be their maleness that matters". They "have a positive effect in the same way as do mothers".

Changing Britain
Edited by Susan McRae Oxford University Press, £40.00

Geographers, demographers, sociologists and gerontologists, brought together by Susan McRae, shatter the myth that we are experiencing the "death of the family".

McRae showsthat today's supposedly dysfunctional, non-traditional family is historically more typical than the "ideal family" of the 1950s and 1960s, so often held up as the benchmark.

Before 1850,there were five ways to end a marriage, including "wife sales", McRae points out. Death often left children with single parents. Pregnancies out of wedlock and living together outside marriage were not uncommon.

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