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parentology book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted to Ask is the story of Dalton Conley, whose idea of raising children includes a bit of science, a tad of theory and a pinch of parent-wise common sense. His story starts with the rushed and heart racing emergency birth of his daughter whom he calls “E” in the book (that’s it, just “E”), and follows the course of his marriage to his wife Natalie and the later addition of his son named “Yo”. The book starts out being an exercise in parenting techniques but quickly turns into a dissertation on Dalton’s life and times, thoughts, family problems, family travels and personal life lessons. I am sorry to say that the book takes on a rambling tone quite quickly; I lost interest once I realized Conley was speaking less from researched and identified theories on child-rearing and more from dumb luck, guesstimation and whatever else he felt like throwing into the pot.

Anyone interested in reading a story of someone else’s life may find this story interesting enough. I just found it difficult to accept anything that was said as a valid parenting strategy. For example, the author says that his children appreciated private school, and they became more conscious of their standard of living as a result. Two sentences later, he states that his son Yo “still called [him] bee-yotch in private” which left me wondering what specific parenting strategy allowed or condoned that behavior?

In addition to ten chapters on discipline, divorce, child rearing and so on, Conley offers additional resources for further reading and supplemental notes for each chapter. I advise parents interested in new and effective child rearing techniques to please keep looking. That said, this book does read well if you care about Conley’s life and times and hey, children really don’t come with instruction manuals and we are all “winging it” in a way, aren’t we?

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.