What is life like for children coming of age in an era after feminism, after the sexual revolution? Kay Hymowitz explores the predicament of a generation growing up in a world where adults lavish them with Tommy Hilfigers, Gameboys, and Disneyland vacations but don't know how to provide them with the ordinary truths that give life meaning. Without a coherent moral and intellectual order to pass on to the young, Ms. Hymowitz argues, parents, teachers, school principals, the media, and the child-rearing experts know only how to celebrate the individual child, "empowering" him to find his own way even as MTV beckons. As Liberation's Children shows, some young people flounder in this spiritual and imaginative void. They curse out teachers and coaches; they try too much too soon; they turn from children into tweens by the time they are eight, and into jaded adults by the time they are fourteen. They become the malcontents of suburban communities. Meanwhile many others eagerly latch on to the one value that seems to cause their elders no ambivalence or embarrassment: personal achievement. As babies they listen to Mozart tapes and use lapware; as toddlers they watch Sesame Street and begin music lessons. By the time they are of school age, they are initiates in the religion of "ecstatic capitalism"-child development has become career preparation. In sharply drawn analyses which first appeared in City Journal, Ms. Hymowitz takes the measure of a young generation afflicted with a loss of deep connection, civility, and moral clarity, as well as a depleted vision of the human predicament.
Kay Hymowitz is the author of Ready or Not: Why Treating Children as Small Adults Endangers Their Future and Ours. She has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the New York Times, and is a contributing editor of City Journal.